We asked filmmaker Dana Abdessamad to put together a Lebanese playlist for someone who travels to her country.
Lebanon, which sits on the Mediterranean Sea and has borders with Syria and Israel, has a long history that dates back to when it was the center of Phoenicia.
So, as you can imagine, its music has been influenced by an enduring history.
Here are Dana’s choices.
To listen to a sample of the songs, just click on the link. We decided to link Amazon because their payment system is so much more international friendly. In the meantime, keep in mind if you purchase we will receive a portion of the sales as a commission. Of course, we chose this playlist for its artistic value.
Ya Tair by Fairuz
Fairuz has been perhaps the most well-known Lebanese musician since the 1950s. “O Bird” (Ya Tair) is one of her classic songs, written by the Rahbani Brothers. One of the few singers whose husband and son have also been famous musicians.
Jayeen Ya Arz Al Jabal by Wadih El Safi
Wadi El Safi, who died at 91 in 2013, had been singing for 75 years and recorded over 5,000 songs. Because of his huge contribution to music, Google celebrated his 95th birthday with a Google Doodle in 2016.
Maiel ya ghzaiel by Najah Salam
Najah Salam began her career in Egypt. The daughter of Muhyiddin Salam, the famous oud player, Najah grew up in a family of artists. In the 1940s her father took her to Egypt, where she met Oum Kalthoum and collaborated with Egyptian musicians. In the 1970s she became an Egyptian citizen. Nevertheless, she had been honored around the Arab World.
Beirut Sette Donia by Majida El Roumi
Majida El Roumi became a force over the last 40 years. The daughter of a famed musician named Halim El Roumi, she went on to make a name for herself and is today a UN Goodwill Ambassador. Her choices of songs, complimented by her Soprano voice, has made her a household name.
Hamra by Khaled El Habre
You could say Khaled El Habre was born an artist. When he was in high school, he formed a band called “Rainbow Bridge,” named after the Jimi Hendrix album. Today he is one of the most well-known guitar players in the entire Arab World!
Waynak by Abeer Nehme
Trained in traditional music, Abeer Nehme has proved herself a musician who can cross all types of styles and plays the qanun, which is a zither-like ancient string instrument used across the Mediterranean cultures.
Metl El Chajar Mazrouin by Hiba Tawaji
Hiba Tawaji is the epitome of the modern musician. Although she has been on the Lebanese music scene since 2007, it was her 2015 appearance on France’s version of “The Voice” that led her to wider acclaim. She sings in Arabic, English, and French!
Shayef by Adonis
Four-member rock/pop band Adonis was formed in 2011. Since then, they graced the music scene with several albums. “Shayef” is a good example of their artistic rhythm. The group is composed of Joey Abu Jawdeh (guitarist), Nicola Hakim (drummer), Gio Fikany (bass), and Anthony Khoury (vocals).
Tal El Sahar by Dina Hayek (Ft. Toni Hanna)
Although Dina Hayek had been around since the late 1990s, it was her collobration with the Saudi label Rotana in 2005 that made her famous. In “Tal El Sahr” she is joined by the Dabe King himself, Mr. Toni Hanna, and they give you an upbeat song that will surely make you dance!
Baddi dii by Mike Massy
Mike Massy’s first album was spiritual hymns and he played Jesus in a musical, but he is definitely a pop artist at heart and his music crosses several genres. “Baddi dii” (I want to get lost) is from his latest album, Bravo.
Eltili We W3edtini by Sami Clark
Sami Clark, whose real name is Sami Hobeika, is perhaps the most global artist in the Arab World. He sang in languages like Greek, Russian, Armenian, Italian, French, and mixed them sometimes with Arabic! This track, written by Wahid Azar, was released in 1982.
Dana Abdessamad lives in Beirut. Follow her on Instagram.