Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Kamilya Jubran (born 1962)
Jubran grew up in the north of Israel and was born into a musical family. Her father Elias Jubran is a well respected musician and oud maker who started to study music after hearing his neighbour play in 1954. Jubran herself is an oud and qanun player, and joined the group Sabreen as a lead singer in 1982. In 2013, she featured on a song called Multi_Viral with the Puerto Rican hip hop band called Calle 13 and Julian Assange (yes that Julian Assange). She has recorded four albums with Sabreen, and five more solo albums, collaborating with musicians such as Werner Hasler and Sarah Murcia. She is currently the artistic director of a nonprofit called Zamkana which encourages 'innovative artistic projects, respecting freedom of expression and secularism' (KamilyaJubran.com).
Mohsen Subhi (1963-2009)
Subhi was a performer, composer and arranger of Palestinian music. After emigrating to the USA, he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, performing on the oud which was his main instrument. He was also a great percussionist, and incorporated rhythms from different cultures into his music.
He was well known for his film scores including The Inner Tour (2001), The Imaginary Village (2004) and Salt of this Sea (2008). Unfortunately, he died in an accident in 2009 soon after being granted the funds to record his second album.
Reem Kelani (born 1963)
Kelani was born in Machester, England and had a strong musical upbringing, listening to a lot of jazz music her father played in the home. After visiting Nazareth for a family wedding, her passion was ignited for Palestinian music. She graduated from Kuwait University with a degree in biology in 1986, and performed whilst in Kuwait, fusing jazz with traditional Palestinian music. Her first album was called Sprinting Gazelle - Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and Diaspora (2006) and she has since performed across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North America. She has worked with many musicians from around the world, and often appears on BBC Radio as a presenter, including writing a program on different UK migrant communities called Distant Chords (2001-2003).
Reem Kelani on Spotify
Rim Banna (1966-2018)
Banna was a singer, composer and arranger born in Nazareth. She started her career by recording traditional Palestinian children's songs in the early 1990s. Her music contained many messages about the suffering of many Palestinans, but also sought to preserve traditional Palestinian texts and poetry by composing melodies for them. She collaborated on a CD in 2004 called Lullabies from the Axis of Evil which brought together lullabies sung by women from Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Iraq and other countries. She released seven solo albums and performed in various countries, including a fundraising concert in Aligarh, India to support a charity that houses street children. Tragically, she passed away from a long battle with cancer in 2018.
Rim Banna on Spotify
Nasri Atweh (born 1981)
Nasri is of Palestinian heritage and was born in Toronto, Canada. Since the age of 6, he has been singing, writing songs and playing the guitar. He started to become well known, won competitions and signed with Universal Canada when he was 19. He is a prolific songwriter and producer, and formed a duo with Adam Messinger called the Messengers. They have written songs for superstars including Justin Bieber, Akon, Christina Aguilera and David Guetta. They have won multiple awards including Grammy and Latin Grammy awards in 2012, 2017 and 2018. He joined the group Magic! in 2012 and reached #1 on the US, UK and Canadian charts with the hit song 'Rude'.
Wissam Hatem Joubran (born 1983)
Joubran is a composer, lute maker and one third of the group Le Trio Joubran with his two brothers. He was born into a family of musicians and instrument makers and made his first instrument when he was only 6 years old. He studied instrument making in Italy, and was the first Arab luthier to graduate from the Antnio Stradivarius Institute. Aside from making violins and ouds, he has written the music for a few films including The Last Flight (2009). With Le Trio Joubran, he has won awards at the Dubai International Film Festival for best soundtrack, and National Order of Merit and Excellence Medal in 2013.
Le Trio Joubran on Spotify
DAM (founded 1999)
DAM are a hip hop group who were started by the brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar and their friend Mahmood Jreri. They started to make music in their home remixing and sampling instrumentals from existing US songs, having been influenced by similar scenes of poverty and crime depicted in music videos. Their music became more political in 2000 after the death of one of their friends. They often discuss issues related to the Israeli-Palesinian conflict in their music, and in the last 20 years, have recorded three albums and over 100 singles. The name DAM comes from the Arabic verb which means 'to last forever/eternity'. They are the first Palestinian hip hop crew and one of the first to rap predominantly in Arabic (they also rap in Hebrew and English). In 2017, Mahmood Jreri helped to found the Palestine Music Expo which has showcased some of the best Palestinian talents including Rasha Nahas and Zenobia. The singer-songwriter Maysa Daw became an official member of the band in 2019 when the band released their LP entitled Ben Haana Wa Maana, which explores what it means to be young and Palestinian in the 21st century.
DAM on Spotify
Bashar Murad (born 1993)
Murad is a singer, songwriter and activist. His father formed the band Subreen, of whom Kamilya Jubran was a member. Returning to East Jerusalem after studying in the U.S.A., he set about growing his audience on YouTube. He is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and worked with UN Women on his single 'Ana Zalameh (I'm A Man)' in 2018, and collaborated with the Icelandic band Hatari on a song which helped to bring awareness to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019. About this, he said,
'Eurovision is a very queer event. It's also a musical event, so it was not just pinkwashing, it was also artwashing. As a gay artist, it was so important for me to make a statement. They were also emphasizing the fact that Eurovision is not political when it's the epitome of politics. It's different countries voting for and against each other and flags being waved everywhere. But when it comes to Palestine and our voices, we were shut down. We were told that no, this is not a political event, this is a party and this is a happy event.' (The New Arab, 2021)
The Chéhadé Brothers (formed 2003-)
The Chéhadé Brothers are a duo from Jerusalem who are made up of the brothers Farid and Rami Chéhadé. They became famous in the Middle East after performing traditional Palestinian songs in various countries at festivals and events. They joined the big band Oriental Roots Orchestra which greatly influenced the direction of their music. They play many different Arabic instruments including the oud, kanoun, riq and katem, and have released two albums which infuse styles from many different countries including Greece, Turkey and Lebanon. They have also been nominated for two BBC Awards, and have performed all over Europe and the Middle East.
The Chéhadé Brothers on Spotify
Nahas is a singer-songwriter from Haifa who tells her story through hard-hitting poetic verses and genre-blurring music. She is an accomplished classical guitarist, and wrote her first song at the age of 15, questioning her identity as a Palestinian girl. “I write feelings, observations, and sometimes monologues,” says Rasha. “I write about life and death, about home, land, and love, knowing and not knowing. Much of what I do as an artist is in pursuit of the sense of freedom that comes with writing a song and going with it, wherever it may lead you.” (Greenbelt.org.uk). She has performed across the world including Glastonbury (UK), SIM São Paulo (Brazil) and Midem (France). Her debut album called Desert was released in 2021.