We all watched, riveted to our screens, as the 2011 people’s revolution to topple Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak voiced their decades-old feelings of anger and frustration in massive rallies and protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. And there, in the middle of that square, singing the songs that expressed that anger and their hope – providing the unofficial soundtrack to the Arab Spring – was a musician named Ramy Essam. Essam’s song Irhal, which urged Mubark’s resignation, is referred to as “the anthem of the revolution”.
Since then, life in Egypt for Ramy has been hard. He has been arrested and tortured. But in October of 2014, Malmo, Sweden offered Essam safe city residence for 2 years, and he has been living in Sweden and studying and playing music since then. That is, until Sweden offered to help bring Ramy here to Vancouver to perform for us at the festival.
Together with a band of Swedish and Egyptian musicians, Ramy keeps the message of the revolution alive. His shows are supercharged, groovy and rocking. A live show with Ramy and his band is a high voltage political rally aimed to inspire, to encourage and to enlighten.
To see the dramatic footage of Ramy performing at Tahrir square, watch the 60 Minutes interview, HERE. Here’s the video for his blistering new single Ya Aksaray.