Monday, December 7th, 2009
Denmark-based musician Simona Abdallah brings a new intensity to the traditional Arab drum, the darbuka. She is one of a brave new breed of Muslim women you’re going to hear a lot more about in the coming year.
This is going to be the year of the Muslim woman you’ve never heard of but should know. So here’s your head start. Simona Abdallah doesn’t just play the darbuka, a type of Arab drum. That’s too meek a verb. She kneads and strikes, cajoles and strokes, her hands moving so fast you lose sight of her fingers. Born in Germany to Palestinian parents, she’s lived in Denmark for most of her 30 years. Until Abdallah, I’d never seen a woman play a darbuka. How many Muslim women musicians do you know? In Europe?
There are plenty of Muslim male rappers in Europe, spitting angrily into a mic and cavorting with “party girls” on music channels. See them in Germany, see them in the Netherlands and there they are in Denmark too. But where’s his sister? At home, singing into her hairbrush, being a “good girl” no doubt.
But online in the Middle East there are fearless sisters who use social media as fearlessly as Abdallah hits that darbuka. You’ll hear more of these women in 2010.
The CDs of women singers from the Middle East line our shelves. Although the likes of Om Kalsoum belong to an era when the Middle East was less afraid of western influences.