Must Listen to Modern Arab Women Musicians
By: Nevin Girgis/ Arab America Contributing Writer
Music is an incredible part of Arab culture, constantly enjoyed throughout all generations. No matter the genre, Arabic music is listened to by millions of people from all cultures. From Oum Kalthoum to Elyanna, Arab women artists capture the hearts of many through their sensational voices and lyrics. Although the style is not the same as Fairuz and Oum Kalthoum, modern musicians take influence from the classics.
Arab women as musicians are crucial to removing the stigma against women musicians in the Arab World. Artists such as Elyanna, Felukah, and Zeina allow an increase in representation of Arab women in the modern Middle East.
The Arab artist that was a great sensation at Coachella 2023, Elyanna was the first artist to perform an entirely Arabic set in the festival. Born in Nazareth, Palestine, Elyanna grew exponentially in the past few years through social media. Elyanna uniquely projects her voice in an enticing way that mesmerizes listeners. Her use of older music from artists like Abdel Halim Hafez and singing them in a captivating and modern style. Famously, Elyanna has taken Hafez’s distinguished song “Ahwak” and covered it in a spellbinding way that only an Arab woman with a voice like hers can do.
An Egyptian female rapper? That’s Felukah! Born and raised in Cairo, Sara Elmessiry has named herself after the iconic Egyptian boat – the Felukah. Much like her name, her style has a “wavy” style. Felukah raps in both English and Arabic in most of her songs which are about modern Arab women and their image in the Arab World. Additionally, Felukah mentions iconic Egyptian women in her songs to bring a feminist perspective and make a point. Through her music, Felukah seeks to “redefine the image of an Egyptian woman, embracing self-confidence and individuality despite growing up around shame culture” (Nylon).
Originally of Lebanese/ Canadian descent, Zeina is an R&B artist that sings in English, Arabic, and French. Zeina began growing on Tik Tok with the duet song “Nasty” with Saint Levant. The song featured a mixture of English, Arabic, and French sensual R&B lyrics which captivated listeners. The collaboration between the artists broke records on charts in Egypt, Morocco, and France. Importantly, Zeina gained a following because unlike typical Arab artists, especially Arab women artists, she discussed taboo topics in her music. Things that Arab women experience and feel but are not allowed to ventilate are what Zeina is not afraid to express.
Music to an Arab woman means more than it seems. Many times the music is a leeway out of the troubles of the real world. To see and listen to women representing them is astounding. Putting Arab Women on the map, proving a presence in the music industry in the East and the West. The use of bilingual and trilingual lyrics has brought eyes and ears to the Arab women that are releasing smashing hits regularly. Different people fit within at least one of these 3 amazing artists as they present a different special style of music.
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