Palestinian singer and composer Reem Kelani will premiere a new composition, entitled Cry Palestine, at a fundraising concert for Syrian refugees in London this Sunday, 1 December.
The work incorporates songs from the album Sprinting Gazelle, which, according to Kelani, is part of her project to “demonstrate the fact of the Palestinians’ existence, now and in the past. She views her musical journey as both historical and political, personal and collective. She seeks to point out suffering and to highlight celebration. Her journey is a musical one through the written and oral history of a people who are proud of their collective sense of poetry, stories, music and existence.”
Cry Palestine features new workings on the traditional songs and poems of Sprinting Gazelle, and will be performed with the London-based community choir Vox Holloway.
Kelani toured in Syria in 2007, commenting at the time that “Syria, and especially Aleppo, is a very serious center of pure classical Arabic music, so before I went out I was very apprehensive, thinking, oh my God, I’m taking a jazz rhythm section — how are they going to take it?”
Since then, she has regularly worked with refugee musicians in Britain and supported the rights of refugees – not just Palestinians – to their own forms of cultural expression and narrative.