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Guest Feature: Fatma Elsayed
One of the most well-known facts about Sabah Fakhri is that one time in 1968, he performed in Caracas, Venezuela for 10 hours straight without a break.
If you don’t know who Sabah Fakhri was, he was a giant in Arabic music. The pride of Aleppo, Syria, Fakhri was one of the few remaining artists from an era of Arabic music that revolved around tarab, an emotive and traditional Arabic singing style.
His death this week was unexpected, and hit many of us on a personal level. Sarah Dadouch, a correspondent with The Washington Post, wrote a beautiful tribute to Fakhri that I included below. I highly recommend reading it.
Fakhri’s artistry was mesmerizing, and his presence will be missed.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Fatma Elsayed!
Fatma is an undergraduate student at Yale University studying Global Affairs and Modern Middle Eastern Studies, but is currently based in Dubai for a gap year to serve as a Youth Ambassador for the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. She was born in Kosti, Sudan and raised in the United States, and currently runs "Sudani Weekly" as a way to connect the Sudanese diaspora to Sudanese music. Alongside her newsletter, Fatma is also a collector of vintage Arabic music records which she posts on her Instagram.
Honestly y’all, Fatma is too important and her work is too vital. Her effort to connect Sudanese diaspora through music is so beautiful. In fact, when I asked if she would be willing to share some of her go-to songs, Fatma shared this with me:
”I have intentionally chosen to recommend solely Sudanese songs because as evident with my newsletter ‘Sudani Weekly’, I am very passionate about Sudanese music and sharing it with more members of the diaspora and Arabic-speaking world.”
1. What is your favorite song right now?
What I love about this recording of Insaf Fathi is how she begins the songs by musically reciting a poem before the beautiful beat drop into the song. This song is one of several famous Sudanese songs of the "Haqeeba" genre, which you can learn more about here in an online piece by Locale.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
This classic cover of جسمي المنحول by Nancy Ajaj is one of my favorite performances by her that I also recently featured in my newsletter "Sudani Weekly". I don't think there is a single emotional song that Nancy Ajaj can't perform well, and her silky voice is one that will live in Sudanese musical history.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
The song قطر كوستي, translating to "The Train of Kosti" reminds me of home because Kosti is actually the city I was born in in Sudan before I then moved to the United States. Mamoun is an incredibly talented singer, and I always think of my friend Mona who inspired me to listen to his music more.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
Igd Allooli is a song that will always make me feel beautiful while listening to it. Saied Khalifa's voice is one that carries emotion in a way that makes you feel like he is literally pouring his soul into the song, and I really hope you enjoy this song sung by an all-time legend.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
To end my music recommendations, I have to give it to Mohamed Bashir who is one of, if not my favorite modern Sudanese singer. I have already decided that he is singing at my wedding inshAllah, and his song "مافي زيو" is one of his more recent singles that will definitely be on the playlist.
Big shout out to Fatma for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Fatma’s songs are included in this week’s playlist too, so be sure to take a listen. And please, sign up for Fatma’s newsletter here and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Zaman Ya Zaman - Sabah Fakhri
Bansa Anam - The Synaptik featuring Marwan Moussa
Démarre - SRNO featuring DYSTINCT and 3robi
MANA - Adam Nabeel featuring Kami Leonne
Shno El Moshkla - Abdullah Trill
DO 4 LOVE - Snoh Aalegra
Ansayen n Tjeddit - Yasmine Taleb featuring NOIRA, Taous Arhab, and Celia Mould Olhand
Shayun Bi Qalbi - Karima El Fillali
Fayadan - Mazyn
Maey Solef - Nariman
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Quiero Rumba - Anitta featuring Chimbala and Dímelo Flow
Oh Na Na - Tainy featuring Camila Cabello and Myke Towers
Señor Juez - Ozuna featuring Anthony Santos
Máquina del Tiempo - Dalex featuring Rauw Alejandro and Lyanno
Adicto A Mi - MJ Nebreda
Ribeteadita - LUANA
SacaLaCamara - Manu Manzo
efectos secundarios - Salma
Me Has Dejado - Nicki Nicole featuring Delaossa
Picante - Ms Nina
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
YoYo - Ego Ella May
No Love - Summer Walker featuring SZA
Flowers (Say My Name) - ArrDee
Trust Nobody - Ama Lou
Love Language - Juls featuring Mayra Andrade
Glory - Snail Mail
Eternal Light - Free Nationals featuring Chronixx
Spooky (Quinten 909 Radio Mix) - Dusty Springfield
The Message - Cousin Stizz
I Want - ENNY
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Lebanon sentenced me to 10 years in prison for helping sick Palestinian children – I consider my work a badge of honour - Jamal Rifi, The Guardian
As a doctor, I believe turning away from desperately ill kids – be they in Palestine or elsewhere – is a far greater crime.
Artisanship Withers on the Vine in Lebanon - Lea Saad and David Wood, New Lines Magazine
Nation’s economic woes spell further trouble for a centuries-old tradition already in steep decline.
Protecting justice from political interference - Aya Majzoub, L’Orient Today
While Hezbollah and Amal have recently been leading the attacks against Bitar, most of the political establishment has united in their opposition to him.
Lebanon Faces Deepening Economic Crisis as Saudis Cut Ties Over Iran - Stephen Kalin and Nazih Osseiran, The Wall Street Journal
Riyadh, once a major financial donor to Beirut, had for years criticized the rising influence of Tehran and its local ally Hezbollah.
Fired staff at Lebanese daily demand unpaid salaries - Kareem Chehayeb, Al Jazeera
Employees at the English-language daily were not told when they will receive months of unpaid salaries after they were let go.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Behind the ‘photo of the year’: Life without limbs for a Syrian father and his son - Ellen Francis, The Washington Post
Syrian father Munzir al-Nazzal has struggled to get by since he was injured in a bombing of a market and fled to Turkey. But what occupies his thoughts most of the time is not the leg he lost: It’s the future of his 5-year-old son, Mustafa, who was born without limbs.
Arab-American brothers open manoushe bakery in same spot as grandfather's old restaurant - Ellie Sennett, The National
Brothers and business partners say opening their first brick-and-mortar venture is ‘emotional and surreal’
Yemeni Americans push for representation in key US Arab community - Ali Harb, Al Jazeera
Advocates say Yemeni Americans are becoming more involved in politics, as three vie for Dearborn, Michigan council seat.
Palestine’s 7amleh has a new tool to hold Facebook (and its peers) accountable - Bani Sapra, WIRED Middle East
As Big Tech struggles to police content from the Middle East, an NGO is gathering independent data to flag when posts are wrongly taken down.
Beyond Morocco’s agricultural boom: The invisibility and precariousness of a female agricultural workforce - Hind Ftouhi and Lisa Bossenbroek, Arab Reform Initiative
Women workers play a key role in the agricultural sector in Morocco. While their working conditions are known to be dire, the crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded their economic and social insecurity. This paper discusses the exploitative treatment of female agricultural workers, the poor state and social support given to them so far, and puts forward recommendations on how to improve their lives.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Sabah Fakhri, Syrian tenor who helped preserve classical Arabic music, dies at 88 - Sarah Dadouch, The Washington Post
Sabah Fakhri, a commanding Syrian tenor who helped preserve classical Arabic music with marathon-length concerts around the world, including one 10-hour performance without break in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1968 that earned him a Guinness World Record entry, died Nov. 2 in Damascus. He was 88.
Wale Is Just Making Sure You’re Listening - Logan Murdock, The Ringer
The brash rapper has occasionally let the conversation outside the music overshadow his work. He’s still got some things to get off his chest, but he’s also got a great new album, ‘Folarin II.’
"Some of the work is deliberately remaining outside of the structure," says musician and advocate Lilli Lewis of the efforts of Black musicians to make it in country and roots music industries. "We want to center different values and it's really difficult to do that from inside.”
Why Sesame Street Is More Vital Than Ever - David Kamp, The Wall Street Journal
It’s been over 50 years since “Sesame Street” changed the face of children’s television forever. Embracing new platforms, the show is making an effort to revolutionize education on a global scale.
Erasing Arabs from “Dune” - Khaldoun Khelil, InStick Media
“The sophisticated visualization of the novel’s often inscrutable characters show that director Denis Villeneuve and his team know that their predominantly American audience are often immune to subtlety and subtext. But by erasing Arabs from “Dune,” they threaten to undo all of that hard work by undermining the anti-colonial message at the story’s heart.”
📚 Other Reads 📚
The Migrant Workers Who Follow Climate Disasters - Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker
A growing group of laborers is trailing hurricanes and wildfires the way farmworkers follow crops, contracting for big disaster-recovery firms, and facing exploitation, injury, and death.
Putting The Law On The Driver’s Side - Jim Puzzanghera, The Boston Globe
In Iowa and elsewhere, Republicans push bills granting some legal immunity to motorists who hit protesters.
Poison in the Air - Lylla Younes, Ava Kofman, Lisa Song, and Maya Miller, ProPublica
The EPA allows polluters to turn neighborhoods into “sacrifice zones” where residents breathe carcinogens. ProPublica reveals where these places are in a first-of-its-kind map and data analysis.
Interviews with more than 70 former and current Suns employees throughout Sarver's 17-year tenure describe a toxic and sometimes hostile workplace under Sarver.
‘I Could Never Abandon Them’: Neopets Users Play On - Madeleine Morley, The New York Times
A devoted corps of users has kept this sparkly but outdated digital world, where magical pets have been reared since 1999, afloat. Recently, droves of pandemic-era nostalgia seekers have joined them.