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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Oslo World Music Festival to pay tribute to late Palestinian singer Rim Banna

The festival also boasts a string of impressive names from the Middle Eastern indie music scene

Palestinian singer Rim Banna. EPA
Palestinian singer Rim Banna. EPA

Regional music talents are set to shine bright at the Oslo World Music Festival this month.

Held in the Norwegian capital from October 30 until November 4, it is one of the most important global music festivals on the touring calendar and is defined by an eclectic line-up of artists that often includes acts from the Middle Eastern indie-music scene.

This year is no different, with electro-dabke group Ministry of Dub-Key headlining alongside fellow Palestinian ensemble Le Trio Joubran and Lebanese singer Tania Saleh.

However, one of the most important moments will come from an Arab artist who is no longer with us. The death of Palestinian singer and poet Rim Banna in March resonated far beyond the region and she will be honoured with a tribute at the festival.

Banna – who died from cancer – had artistic ties to the Scandinavian country as it is home to her record label Kirkelig Kulturverksted. In 2004 she released the album Lullabies from the Axis of Evil, a collection of traditional family songs sung by women from Iraq, Iran and North Korea (the nations referred to as the “Axis of Evil” by former United States president George W Bush); and to which Syria, Libya and Cuba were later added.

In 2013, she released Revelation of Ecstasy and Rebellion, and this year her label put out the posthumous album Voice of Resistance, for which Banna wrote all 15 songs bar one.With artists such as Ministry of Dub-Key, Saleh and Norwegian singer Kari Bremnes lined up to play at the tribute show, the festival organisers say Banna’s politically-charged work embodies this year’s theme of Freedom. “Rim Banna was first and foremost a freedom singer – she lent her voice to the Palestinian people, and their dreams of self-determination,” say the team behind the event.

“We are far from that dream in 2018, 70 years [after the Naqba], and it is not a music festival’s role to find ways out of the wilderness, to announce winners or to redraw the map. What we can do, in a year where we have chosen freedom as the overarching topic, is to lift up those who sing about a better world. The artists that ordinary people turn to in their struggle for a better deal. Rim Banna was all of this. She showed how painful struggle can become great art, until her last breath.”

Ministry of Dub-Key will also perform a solo show directly after the tribute show. The duo, consisting of DJ Bruno Cruz and singer Walaa Sbait (who is also the frontman of 47Soul) will showcase their mash-up of Palestinian dabke, hip-hop and dancehall in what is set to be a storming set.

Meanwhile, the instrumental group Le Trio Joubran will use their November 3 performance to introduce the audience to their recently released new album The Long March.

The evocative collection has already created a buzz due to the song Carry the Earth, in which the three brothers collaborate with Pink Floyd singer and bassist Roger Waters. The haunting song tells the story of four Palestinian youths who were killed in a controversial Israeli army air raid on a Gaza beach in 2014.

When it comes to musical talent from outside the region, the Oslo World Music Festival has invited leading names such as the electrifying Malian guitarist Bombino, US experimental group Kronos Quartet and the French Cuban sisters Ibeyi. The festival will also hold a series of seminars around the theme of Freedom, with discussions on political art and its role in various corners of the world.

For details go to www.osloworld.no

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