Marcel Khalife: The Music of the Arab Revolution


Marcel Khalife, hailed as the Bob Dylan of the Middle East, is a classical musician and composer from Lebanon who has become not only a musical icon, but a political one as well, with his songs about freedom and nationalism.

Khalife now has a new album out, Fall of the Moon, an homage to Mahmoud Darwish, a nationalist Palestinian poet with whom he often collaborated. He is famed for his skill at turning poetry into music but that’s not all he’s famous for: Khalife was once indicted on blasphemy charges when he sang the Quran in his song “Ana Yousef Ya Abi.”

These days he is playing a more important role in the Arab world than simply being a famous singer. His music has become the language of the revolution, often chanted on Arab streets.

“What is happening in the Arab world today should have happened a long time ago. These uprisings, these revolutions were necessary because we needed to move beyond the stagnation that we used to live in,” says Khalife. “But let us be clear, these revolutions need time. No revolution in the world resulted in positive outcomes that quickly.

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