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Emel Mathlouthi sings for Tunisia in London

A Tunisian singer and songwriter reflects upon the hardships faced during the Tunisian revolution through her songs performed at Dash Arts Café in London.

Emel Mathlouthi, a thirty-year-old famous Tunisian artist brings Tunisian music, with its rich artistic culture, to London and revives one of the most beautiful Rich Mix nights at the café.

There was a gathering of a large number of people from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures, all under the same roof. A number of Palestinians, Lebanese, British and Tunisians united for the sole purpose of listening to the Tunisian singer's performance. They were also remembering the people who gave their lives for the victory that Tunisian people are currently cherishing.

Emel Mathlouthi songs, which are all dedicated to Tunisia, express her feelings about freedom and respect for all the Tunisian martyrs who gave their lives for their country.

She has a distinguished vocal ability and captivating style which originates from the Mediterranean. Her Middle Eastern songs are a combination of Eastern and African rhythms and rock music. Her style is also inspired by the American singers Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the famous Arab singers Fairouz and Marcel Khaleefa.

 

My word is free

One of her favorite songs, Kelmti Horra, which means 'My word is free', is a song Emel wrote two days after the beginning of the Tunisian revolution that was triggered by Mohamed Bouazizi: a twenty-six-year-old man who put his life on the line by setting himself on fire, because he was not allowed to sell his vegetables for living on the streets of Sidi Bouzid.

This action led to demonstrations about jobs in one of the poorest provinces in Tunisia, to which the Tunisian government responded in a hostile manner and that ignited further protests elsewhere in Tunisia.

Emel's voice grabbed the crowd's attention from the moment she started singing the first song for the night and held it all the way until the end.

Her voice was so touching that even though most of her songs were in Arabic, it did not make the audience lose their attention towards her melodious voice. It was a voice that did not have any boundaries or constrained to the Arabic members of the audience.

As the concert was closing to an end, the crowd became very emotional. Affected by her powerful performance, they requested Emel to continue singing even after performing her last song of the night.

Moved by the affection and admiration of the crowd, Emel proceeded to meet each individual member of the audience. This filled many hearts with an overwhelming joy and for some, it was like a dream that came true.

 

Words, images & audio by Lina Musallam

Visit Dash Arts Café, Unit 1, Toynbee Studios, 
28 Commercial Street, London E1 6AB (020 7377 6606) http://www.dasharts.org.uk/
Nearest tube station: Aldgate East (Hammersmith & City and District lines)

Find out more about Emel Mathlouthi: http://emelmathlouthi.com

More articles by the author:

Edgware Road: The Arabs’ capital in London

Women and the spirituality of Islam

Busking in London: The sound entertaining Londoners

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