Rim Banna

In my latest visit to Jordan, I had the pleasure of meeting the singer Rim Banna and her family and attend her concert.

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Rim Banna is a Palestinian singer born and living in Nazareth, the city of Jesus Christ.

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Her concert was quite an unusual emotional experience to me filled with feelings and sentiments. Although the audience was small around 150 people the interaction was very livelyI was impressed by her voice when she started to sing solo without music, , it was quite intense I felt the chills and shudder all over my body, she was singing, with a very nice warm voice and with an elevated genuine passion, a song that she dedicated to all Palestinian mothers.

She was then joined by her husband Leonid Alexeienko who to my surprise was talking very good Arabic despite his Russian origins, accompanying her on his guitar.

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The concert lasted for almost two hours, two hours of passionate performance where she was singing a repertoire of folkloric Palestinian songs along with some new poetry dedicated for prisoners, mothers who lost their children and above all to innocent martyrs. I had tears to my eyes when she sang her song Sara dedicated to the 84th martyr of the intifada; Sara the one and half year baby killed in 2000 by an Israeli sniper. The combination of lyrics guitar music played by Leonid, the performance, the passion and the voice –in no particular order- was something outside of this world. I also observed Leonid and the passionate loving looks he gave to his wife while they were performing, I could not miss that gaze of admiration and love I have seen.  She suddenly reminded us of the injustice the people living in the occupied territory are suffering, something we forgot about because it became a normal part of our lives because we are watching atrocities everyday on TVs. What these people are enduring in their daily life is without precedent, they are imprisoned, their life is difficult they are undergoing every sort of harassment and yet Rim who is part of that life, finds the stamina and the will to sing, what a powerful soul.

I was wondering how she can find such power of expression and passion when she is living under oppression that she described to me in a brief discussion as highly humiliating and degrading, but she draws from these inhumane conditions such strong spirit, she said that she was singing once near Ramallah the capital of the West Bank, while the Apatchy helicopters were bombarding nearby posts, she stopped singing but people attending asked her to continue singing. She wrote to me saying:

Dear Rafik,
… thanks for everything, also for coming to the concert, and for sharing with us the Palestinian pain suffer and reality. Despite our hard and complicated life under occupation, we were, still and will be always strong Nation, will remain fighting till we will achieve our justice rights. We are fighting against darkness, but we are full of light, bliss and love…..Rim
I had the honor of dining with this brave family who is first of all united and second is using art to convey a message and fight injustice through the universal language of music and songs, it is amazing that despite the suffering; her lyrics did not include a single word of hatred.

I really find their stamina and determination a good role model, she should be a real role model for the ladies and for us men too, struggling and keeping and raising her family. What I have seen is really bringing the definition of family being together and united. A question came to my mind if she is so famous around the world why don’t we know anything about her?  She is the perfect role model and idol for all of us a symbol or resistance and perseverance as well as love and motherhood. I visited her website at http://www.rimbanna.com/ and discovered that she studied music and singing in the High Institute for Music “GNESINS” in Moscow and she specialized in modern singing and conducting singing ensembles. So we have a combination of talent, passion, and knowledge, I also found that her CDs are sold through Amazon.comOne last word I was so moved by this experience that I decided to share it for two reasons bring the light on an area that we are forgetting because we are seeing only a narrow angle when we need to see the real thing that is worth seeing and supporting  and it is the people not the political powers and second to spread the light on a family that deserves the attention and the spotlight.

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7 Responses to “Rim Banna”


  1. 1 rafiknakhla November 14, 2007 at 7:25 am

    As I posted the article on facebook, i received some comments that i would like to share.
    Marwa Rakha wrote:
    The first time I heard Rim, I was in Bahrain. I walked into a shop and I was about to try on some clothes when her voice hit me. I could not understand the lyrics, I did not know the singer, I only heard a voice that penetrated my soul and ….. I started crying in the middle of the shop.

    I am not sure what was it that made me cry … her passion, her stamina, her voice …. everything was far more reaching than the lyrics that I did not grasp.

    One of the workers came to me and asked if something was wrong. I asked her who was singing .. she told me Rim Banna … I flew back to Cairo.

  2. 2 rafiknakhla November 14, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Nidal El Okeily left me also a comment on facebook:
    I must admit that this is a great article, because although I never heard Reem before but I heard the echo of her voice in your article, and I although I hear and feel my nation , the Palestinian nation every second , yet still I heard them again out loud in your article, along with in Marwa’s tears.Thank you for sharing the experience and I wish I was there with you…………………………..

  3. 3 rafiknakhla November 14, 2007 at 7:30 am

    Rana Abdalla left a commenton the ararbic version:

    نعم لقد كانت ريم الصوت الرائع الذي جعلنا نحلق الى عالم واجهنا به حقيقة الواقع وطرنا في نفس الوقت لنستمتع بصوت رائع نقي يحمل قصة اخواننا واخواتنا في فلسطين، ووضعهم غير العادل تحت الاستيطان الاسرائيلي، فليباركك الرب لتظلي مشعلا ينير الدرب حتى يصل صوتك الى أبعد بقعة في العالم وينير درب الحقيقة

    It is true, May God bless her and all Palestinian there.
    I will never forget this event.

  4. 4 shady makram November 19, 2007 at 1:34 am

    كم جميلاان تجد شخص يحمل صوتا جميلا قويا واحساسا دفينا وايمانا
    بقضية كدنا ننساها

  5. 5 josep bertran November 19, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Barcelona 2007 Nov

    It’s trought music and art , a way where we can all meet and start our route towards a better understanding of each other.Thanks Rim Banna , and Rafik, Have a peacefull journey

  6. 6 rafiknakhla November 25, 2007 at 9:42 am

    Art has always been the universal language of understanding.
    In the turbulent world of today we need to remember our sufferings and also work towards clearing them through encouraging mutual understanding.
    Thank you Rim for giving me this wake up call that I am trying to communicate to others.
    It is worth mentioning that mutual understanding leads to things that last longer and are more stable

  7. 7 Ahmed Osman November 27, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Too bad I missed the concert to watch El Ahly loose to El Negm El Saheely in the final! I got my priorities wrong again….but I am waiting for the CD she promised to send!


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