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Guest Feature: Farah-Silvana Kanaan
Friends, we’re at the halfway point of 2022. I hope the rest of your year is restful, peaceful, and relaxing. Disconnect, unplug, try to live life as much as possible. Find moments to hold space for happiness and joy. We’re all trying to make it and stay above water!
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Farah-Silvana Kanaan!
Farah is a features writer and reporter for L’Orient Today, the Lebanon correspondent for Bureau Buitenland, a program on Dutch National radio which focuses on in-depth analysis of foreign news. She also writes a column about Lebanon for the Dutch newspaper De Leeuwarder Courant. She’s also written for The New Arab, Middle East Eye, Rusted Radishes and Al-Jazeera English and is currently the guest editor for the next issue of Arabpop, an Italian magazine that focuses on literature, art, music and culture in the Arab World.
A dear friend once described her as “tabbouleh meets tagliatelle”, which sounds cooler than saying she’s Lebanese-Italian. The most Dutch thing about her is her love for extra salty licorice and a perpetual longing for her raggedy bicycle. After studying Film at the Università di Bologna, she majored in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Amsterdam.
Her three biggest dreams are to publish her family saga, which will require her to travel to Italy, Syria, Egypt, and Greece, buy a tiny house by the sea filled with books and a piano somewhere on the Mediterranean and to see Palestine liberated in her lifetime, from the river to the sea. She lives in Beirut with her tiny black panther Lily, short for Lilith.
First of all, it’s Farah’s birthday this weekend, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Easily one of the funniest, most empathetic, and genuine human beings you’ll ever meet. Farah is not only a beautiful storyteller, but she truly is the epitome of a hype-person. She will always find a way to make her friends smile, and the multiple facets of her identity shine in her go-to songs:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
My favourite song right now would be, akh Danny what are you doing to me?, so many! Let me check my Spotify … I’m a creature of habit, a typical Moonchild, and I also tend to be very nostalgic so I listen to old songs more than new ones, simply because music is comfort to me and nothing comforts me more than the soundtrack to my youth. I’m ridiculously unaware of what’s new in music.
Anyway I guess these days I’d have to go with Prince’s version of “Mary Don’t You Weep” off the "Piano & A Microphone 1983" album. The Purple One, his piano and his raw voice akin to a religious experience. What more does a girl need to get through the day? I miss him so much.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Wow, this one is even harder because I’m always in my feels! And whenever I’m in my feels, which, again, is all the time, I tend to listen to songs that emphasize those feels because I’m a masochist. Two songs that really do that for me are Miss Lauryn’s “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind” off her MTV Unplugged sessions … just a total sobfest. Makes me want to hug Miss Lauryn, myself and everyone I care about. Another songs that really gets to me is Carmen Consoli’s “L’Ultimo Bacio.” And oh, I’ve been re-listening to Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You” because I have a crush on someone.
But there is one lady that just always has a way of calming me down, enveloping me like a cozy blanket on a crispy cold winter's day: Billie Holiday. She hits you where it hurts when you need to hear it the most, of that makes sense. The voice of an angel slapping you in the face. Amy Winehouse has the same effect on me. Her cover of Billie's "There Is No Greater Love" is just...
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
The concept of home is a very complicated one for me, as it is to all diaspora kids, and so I oscillate between feeling like I have three homes and none at all. I think that “Where is home?” is a question which, not to sound like a diaspora spoken word cliché, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to answer.
I was born in The Netherlands to a Lebanese father and an Italian mother. They were both in their early twenties when they had me, so the music I grew up with was a mix of songs from the homelands and contemporary ‘80s music. My favourite music memories are those of singing along to cassettes and the radio on the long drive to Italy or Greece in summer when I was a kid. We didn’t have Spotify then so my version of tyrannizing the aux chord back then was to just yell what I wanted to listen to. Back then it was usually Madonna, Michael Jackson, Wham! and Gloria Estefan. And of course the original Syrian-American Princess of Pop, Paula Abdul.
My mom would intervene by playing songs by Jim Croce, James Taylor, The Doobie Brothers, and Earth, Wind, & Fire. And baba, we’ll, he’d wait until I was falling asleep in the backseat, to softly sing along to everything from Marcel Khalife and Fairuz to Oum Khulthum and Abdel Halim Hafez — with passionate intermezzos by Ehab Tawfiq and George Wassouf to stay awake. Another song that reminds me of home is a song that I always used to sing with my younger brother when doing the dishes: “Easy Lover” by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. We still do that sometimes, hahaha.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
How does anyone answer this question? There are so many! Why are you making me kill my darlings by choosing just the one? That’s just cruel.
Okay, a song I’ve known all the words to since I was a little girl is “Buffalo Stance” by Neneh Cherry. I was absolutely mesmerized by her, especially after watching the accompanying video on MTV. She was and still is the epitome of cool. Of course I had no idea what she was singing about at the time which makes it even more hilarious. Two albums I know all the words to happen to both be MTV Unplugged sessions: Mariah Carey and Nirvana.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Lek khalas ba2a! Can I name five? Pretty please? I won’t elaborate if that makes it easier:
“Freedom! ‘90” by the unsung hero of pop George Michael (miss him too)
Big shout out to Farah for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Farah’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to check out Farah’s work and follow her on Instagram and Twitter!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Halla Bel 3wda - Dareen featuring Gelba
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - Marwan Moussa
Titi Titi - Kazdoura
Shaggi Majnoon - TooDope
Mour Lbher - Imad Maestro
In The Honey - Wafia
Badi Dal - Elyanna
gr8ful - Nadine El Roubi
Mi Corazon - Ali Ssamid
BROWN IS BEAUTIFUL - Soof
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Celosa - Duki
Lo Noto - Morad
Mala Suerte - Sofia Mata
Artesano - Tania Matus
Mojadero - Arcangel featuring Revol
Q-Lito - Sael featuring Emilia
LALALA - ANGEL22
Dembow Dominicano - Lennis Rodriguez featuring Leo RD
lunares - Valentina
Aura - Mario Baro featuring Jae Camilo
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Feel It All The Time - Soccer Mommy
PRICE OF FAME - Brent Faiyaz
Let Me Go - Giveon
Too Bad I Forget - Alex Isley & Jack Dine
Sandstorm - Mereba featuring JID
JÚJÚ - Sunni Colón
Turn Up -MzVee
Catch Me In The Air - Rina Sawayama
Get My Money Right - Timaya
Comfortable - THEY. featuring Fana Hues
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Can Lebanon’s National Conservatory of Music still be saved? - Zéna Zalzal, L’Orient Today
The resignation of Walid Moussallem who was replaced by the composer and opera singer Hiba al-Kawas at the head of the Conservatory has put the spotlight on the many problems facing the national musical institution.
Mayyas founder on 'America's Got Talent' triumph: Everything happened in slow motion - Fatima Al Mahmoud, The National
Nadim Cherfan says the female Lebanese dance troupe are 'fighters'.
Call to ban LGBTQ+ events in Lebanon sparks rights groups' anger - Tala Ramadan, Thomson Reuters Foundation News
LGBTQ+ groups say they will not be deterred by minister Bassam Mawlawi's order to ban their events for spreading 'perversion'
Community efforts help memorialize historic Laziza Brewery through public park - Richard Salame, L’Orient Today
At two years old, Laziza Park is one of the few parks to open in Beirut in recent years.
New Film Shows Lebanese Civil War From a Classroom - Lylla Younes, New Lines Magazine
Oualid Mouaness uses sound as an aggressor that drives the film’s characters to act.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Mohad Gasmi: The voice of Hirak in southern Algeria - Raouf Farrah and Hamza Hamouchene, The New Arab
The Algerian hirak activist Mohad Gasmi, who was involved in organising important mobilisations against shale gas exploitations, has been imprisoned for two years. Now there is a small window to free him.
Outcry in Egypt as iconic Nile houseboats are destroyed - Yolande Knell and Wael Hussein, BBC News
"Not only are these houseboats homes to people who have lived there for decades, but some of them are historic monuments. They are part of our heritage which cannot be erased.”
Morocco is prosecuting migrants instead of rogue police forces - Faustine Ngila, Quartz
The Moroccan government has started prosecutions. But not on its police forces who coordinated with Spanish police to exert brutal force that contributed to the loss of 23 lives but on 65 of the 2,000 migrants who attempted to cross into the Spanish north African enclave of Melilla.
'Our souls are split into two': Inside Mexico City's Arab community - Alex Shams, Middle East Eye
Arabs have played a huge role in shaping modern Mexico, and today, their influence can be felt in many aspects of life, even the cuisine.
Sudan: Voices of Protesters Should Be Heard, Not Sidelined - Mohamed Osman, Human Rights Watch
“We are determined in our peacefulness despite the repression that we are confronting.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Challenging Tunisian society’s homophobia through theatre - Yousra Samir Imran, The New Arab
LGBTQI+ NGO Mawjoudin speaks to The New Arab about how it uses art to raise awareness and confront homophobia in the North African country today.
Hassan Hajjaj, Mbari House & The Moroccan Rap Frontier - James Keith, Complex UK
The wealth of rap talent bubbling up in Morocco is far from a secret. The North African country has been churning out some of the finest in Arab-speaking rap for quite some time now, but the West is unforgivably slow at catching on.
Using vintage aesthetics with a modern twist, photographer Abdulaziz Al-Hosni challenges the rules of masculinity - Olivia Hingley, It’s Nice That
The Oman-based photographer and art director uses fictional narratives to imagine a new, more emotional way for men to exist.
Navigating the Club Cultures of Beirut, Amman, Riyadh, and Cairo - Thomas Gorton, GQ Middle East
The club cultures across the region are about more than just music. They are about class, cash, gender and community. The best thing of all? They're growing.
My band was silenced in the Middle East. But a global queer community gives me strength - Haig Papazian, The Guardian
Mashrou’ Leila have witnessed a crackdown on our LGBTQ+ fans, and devastation in our home country of Lebanon. Music is what helps us to share the burden.
📚 Other Reads 📚
With Arabic, Haitianole and other languages that are not protected by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act becoming more common among U.S. households, some voting rights advocates have been calling for the federal government to expand its requirements for multilingual election information.
Migrant deaths in San Antonio show urgent need for reform - Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, San Antonio Express-News
The death of more than 50 migrants in a human-smuggling operation shows the need for a sustained investment in updating laws to expand legal pathways, create an orderly humanitarian protection system and address the root causes of migration.
Abortions are now harder to access. Thanks to inflation, they’re also far more expensive. - Shefali Luthra, The 19th
Traveling out of state for an abortion was already unaffordable for many. But the end of federal abortion rights has come as inflation rates are pushing up prices for gas, hotels, plane tickets, medical supplies and food.
A Korean man’s shocking killing on streets of L.A. sends his daughter searching for answers - Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times
To Cathy Lee her father’s killing was so random and vicious that it at first seemed like some bizarre nightmare too outrageous to be real.
This summer, rising temperatures cause concern for agricultural workers - Yesica Balderrama, Prism
“Every year it gets hotter.”