Photo: Emma Studio
Youssra El Hawary is an Egyptian songwriter, accordionist, and singer who, as Beehype notes, first made a name for herself internationally in 2012 with “El Soor,” a politically-charged aim at Egypt’s rule in the aftermath of President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow from office and the rise of the SCAF. The song’s music video features Hawary climbing the wall in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the main location of the 2011 Revolution, and singing about the politics of the wall with a disarmingly simple arrangement (“In front of the wall/In front of those who built it/In front of those who made it high/Stood a poor man/Who peed/On the wall, and on those who built it and those who made it high.”). The video was a hit, and it even landed her a spot on NPR.
Hawary’s latest release, “El Alam” (“The Flag”), is another showcase of her trademark sound of combining classical and understated arrangements with sharp political and self-reflective lyrics. I think of her as a sort of PJ Harvey-like writer, someone who is smart enough to do more with less both in song and words. Make sure to keep your eyes out for more music coming out hopefully soon.