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Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle

by Reem Kelani

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Let us in! 02:25
Let us in! Let us in! Our loved ones, don’t you go upsetting us Our tradition is to dress in finery Our tradition is to marry well Our generosity is unsurpassed! We’ve received an edict from the Sultan, Aamaan Aamaan… He who gives us his daughter’s hand in marriage, Shall be made leader of all the Arab tribes, Aamaan Aamaan... And he who doesn’t give us his daughter’s hand, Shall be made to clean up after our cattle, Aamaan Aamaan... Let us in! Let us in! Aamaan Aamaan!
Our loved ones have left home Gone away, without saying goodbye… When I went by their place one morning to salute the mulberry tree, No one was there to invite me in… All I found was a crying bird Regret stopped me short and pinned my feet to the thorny ground... I sought in vain to learn what had become of them From the houses where they once lived Alas, my tears stained the walls of their homes… O cameleer of the caravan! If you come across them Let them know that I still cry for them Tell them my loving eyes haven’t yet closed in sleep The good nights are gone that should have lasted forever... Do tell our loved ones who’ve moved away, That for anyone, hardship never lasts forever Never lasts forever… Never lasts forever…
O gazelle of all gazelles You, who plan to go away! As you set out on your journey Offer your praise to Prophet Muhammad… My eyes flooded with tears I cried over our parting And I’ll continue to cry over our parting… I’ve taken a vow of silence I’ve forbidden myself from dancing the dabke I dyed my clothes dark, and I’ve gone into mourning... I dyed my clothes indigo blue Over the loss of my sprinting gazelle There is none as tall or slender I’ve looked everywhere And I haven’t found its like... There’s nothing like it left in this world... The day my fate was sealed, I’d planned to send a bird with a message Asking how my gazelle was faring… If it were in trouble, I’d rescue it... As I asked the bird to carry my message away The bird soared above me And then abandoned me… Hey, my coquettish beautiful one! Hey, my pampered mate! I’ve lain ill in bed, but you didn’t visit me… O Lord of all mankind! You give life and You take it away You bring life to those who’ve been driven away My heart has been torn apart Because of this parting… O gazelle of all gazelles You, who plan to go away!
O my eye, stop crying O my eye, or you’ll burst My tears pour forth without relent At those who stole my birthright… Those of you visiting the Prophet’s shrine Take me aboard your caravan I’m neither as heavy as iron Nor will I burden you with children… They dressed for the journey Saying they’d be away for two days But their parting lasted forever… They dressed for the journey Saying they’d be away for two days But their parting broke my back… Bring me the quill and inkwell Fit for a Sultan’s scribe And I’ll write letter upon letter About what I had, and have no more… I’ll sing you a lullaby, my child I’ll bring you seven camel loads Of pistachios and hazelnuts When you grow your first tooth, my child… Close your eyes, my love You’re fast asleep by day And wide awake by night… Close your wide eyes, my love You’re fast asleep by day And beautiful as a bride by night… I’ll sing you a lullaby, my child I’ll bring you seven camel loads Of pistachios and hazelnuts When you grow your first tooth, my child…
Tighten the belt over your waist! Nothing else will do you good There’ll come a day When your Lord makes things better... If you find carrying a heavy load on your back humiliating It’s more dignified than holding your hand out in charity… Come along, the lot of you! Let’s seek God’s help and give it our best We’ll earn what’s meant for us And if we only make a meagre income, then so be it! So long as you have bread to dunk in your oil There’s no need to worry Don’t take things to heart Don’t make excuses! And now the express train is stuck on the pavement And we haven’t made a penny for the past few days All railway stations, north and south, lie idle And trains have been derailed Lord have mercy on us! They’ve cut the telephone lines And brought down the telegraph Would you believe that even travelling to Dilingat Now requires a passport? Donkeys are knackered From carrying six people at a time And the only means of travel Is on beasts, by day and by night… What else can I say? All things come to an end I know you’ve suffered a blow And it’s for all to see Poor you, there’s no money coming in or out There must be a way somehow Just have faith in the Almighty… Tell me, on the Prophet’s honour Haven’t we had enough to cope with already? Whilst some lucky sod can afford two wives Such misery this life has dealt us! Yet the jinxed shall remain jinxed forever Even if they hang a lantern over their doorstep... ‘Siktir!’ Money is not everything True happiness lies in the richness of the soul... Come help me with my load! Hardship never lasts One day, you’ll live as well as you once did! Hardship never lasts Hela, hela, hela, hela! Hela, hela, hela, let’s go!
Read the news, Shaykh Quffaa’a! In the latest Bourse journal I’ll shave my beard If you don’t dance with joy You’ll dance and dance and dance! This morning augurs well And life is getting better Dear Sirs, shout: Hurrah! Shout: Brava! The war is now finish–ed Finish–ed! Finish–ed! Finish–ed! After eating bread and broth And salad and patties that knock you out We can now scoff two or three ounces Of horsemeat smothered in ghee We’ll scoff and scoff and scoff! As long as mutton is dear And so too is veal We shouldn’t be fussy A horse or a donkey or a mule will do For sure, we’ll never starve For sure, for sure, for sure! There’ll come a day When we gloat at the merchants of war And just as we’ve suffered They too shall suffer And we’ll laugh our hearts out Ha ha! Ha ha! Ha ha! Come, let’s unwind our turbans And dress à la mode And bathe in a tub full of cologne And travel to Europe to see the world The world, the world, the world!
The Vinegar Cup Poem by Mu’in Bseiso Cast your lots, people Who’ll get my robe After crucifixion? The vinegar cup in my right hand The thorn crown on my head And the murderer has walked away free While your son has been led to the cross… But I shall not run From the vinegar cup Nor the crown of thorns… I’ll carve the nails of my cross from my own bones, and continue, Spilling drops of my blood onto this earth… For if I should not rip apart How would you be born from my heart? How would I be born from your heart? Oh, my people!
The ship sounded its horn Sailing out to sea Turning its back on home, the best place of all… The ship sounded its horn Ferrying men to their drowning On their way to far–off lands Where the pain of exile burns like unquenched thirst... Turning its back on friends And companions… Families’ faces pale and yellow In sorrow and grief… The ship sounded its horn so loud Sailing back home Carrying men beloved of their people Their hands trembling… Their loved ones’ tears Sting and burn their faces Their eyelids smarting with pain… The ship sounded its horn Heading out to sea Sailing off to foreign lands Turning its back on bright skies Uprooting young men from fertile lands To a life so harsh Just as the rain–soaked valley Fills up with tree trunks and branches… The ship sounded its horn Driven away from home With a bow so sharp Slicing through the foaming waves Like a knife through cheese Spouting coffins into the blue sea Making ships quake in fear As the sea surges backwards and forwards… The ship sailed into the mist Shrouded in fog Packed to the gunnels with the best of men Offered up to foreign lands Without respite, like mules The only difference between them and the cattle on board Is the passport... the passport... the passport…
This is Yarmouk! O moon... Your light will wipe the darkness of the siege On your white doorsteps… The children’s smiles will vanquish The pains of my demise… And the martyrs’ blood Will breathe life into me… And through the blessings of old mothers I’ll imbibe the anthems of my triumph… This is Yarmouk! My song... my desire... my yearning Are all for my home... This is Yarmouk! This is Yarmouk!
Imhaaha: Aweeha! Praise God, my heart’s patience is finally rewarded Aweeha! And the wound of longing is healing after so much pain Aweeha! I swear by Him who created the clear stars above Aweeha! I’ve waited endlessly for this day Song: Praise God, praise God, praise God! Praise God, that evil is no more We planted peppers in the heat Our foes said they wouldn’t turn red Praise God, our peppers grew and turned red! Praise God, that sorrow is no more We planted carnations in the heat Our foes said they wouldn’t bloom Praise God, our carnations grew and bloomed! You built a room And we built a room Our brides are finely dressed In the ways of our fathers and forefathers… Fill up the builder’s pitcher You, with hands dyed in henna! It’s neither in the bragging of women Nor in the boasting of our song… You saddled your horses And we saddled our horses Our young men are serving coffee In the ways of our fathers and forefathers… Praise God, that evil is no more We planted peppers in the heat Our foes said they wouldn’t turn red Praise God, our peppers grew and turned red! “O Abdul Qadir al–Jilani, our love for your message brings us closer to God!” Praise God, that sorrow is no more We planted carnations in the heat Our foes said they wouldn’t bloom Praise God, our carnations grew and bloomed! Praise God, our peppers grew and turned red! Praise God, our peppers grew and turned red! Praise God, our carnations grew and bloomed! Praise God, we built a house! And it’s now full of newlyweds! Praise God, praise God, praise God! Praise God, praise God, praise God!


Entitled “Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle”, the album comprises a live recording of Reem’s concert at the Tabernacle, London W11, on 22 November 2012. The concert formed part of Kensington & Chelsea’s Nour Festival, organised that year by Alan Kirwan. The album consists of two CD’s, with almost 80 minutes of playing time.

Each CD includes a PDF of the album booklet, which can be opened on your computer. The first CD also includes a short promotional film by the Venezuelan filmmaker Ignacio Crespo Valdez, in which Reem talks about her music and about the making of this album. Manchester-based Adam Orton provided the animation for the ‘sprinting gazelle’ motif on the promotional video.

The second CD includes a specially edited excerpt from the French film-maker, Axel Salvatori-Sinz’s award-winning documentary film “Les Chebabs de Yarmouk”, for which Reem composed the title music “Yarmouk”. The lyrics of the song were penned by Iyad Hayatleh, the Glasgow based Palestinian poet and son of Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

The songs which Reem performed on the night encompassed some old favourites from her 2006 classic “Sprinting Gazelle: Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora”, as well as several presentations from her on-going project on the great Egyptian composer Sayyid Darwish (1892-1923). Reem’s set also included new Palestinian songs, plus a Tunisian track from her collaboration album with the Anti-Capitalist Roadshow (featuring Leon Rosselson, Roy Bailey, Peggy Seeger & Robb Johnson, amongst others).

Reem’s band at the Tabernacle concert included a Jazz rhythm section comprising Bruno Heinen on piano, Ryan Trebilcock on double bass and Antonio Fusco on drums and percussion. The concert also featured a guest appearance by the acclaimed Palestinian musician Tamer Abu Ghazaleh on ‘oud.

Over the years, Reem has introduced many non-Arab musicians to the theory and practice of Arabic music, including the exceptional rhythm section which accompanied her in this concert. Moreover, she has facilitated opportunities for her band members to work with musicians from Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Iran.

The concert was faithfully recorded by Gurjit Dhinsa, who acted as assistant engineer on Reem’s Sprinting Gazelle album, and the recording was later edited by Steve Lowe, who was the principal engineer on her debut album. With his expertise, diligence and patience, Steve has played a vital role in helping Reem to bring her music to the enjoyment of a wider public.

Alongside the aural experience of this memorable concert, Reem has, in keeping with the standards she set herself on her debut album, provided in the 60-page booklet detailed historical and musicological notes on each song, plus the lyrics, in Arabic and translated into English (under the supervision of Palestinian poet and literary historian Salma Khadra Jayyusi). There is also a glossary of musical and cultural terms.

The design and layout of the media book and sleeve notes was done by the talented Egyptian graphic designer, Nora el-Gazzar. She worked tirelessly to develop Reem’s concept into masterful design reality.

For the continuing support, paternal care and practical assistance given by the great songwriter Leon Rosselson, we owe so much. Like Sprinting Gazelle before it, this album is published courtesy of his company, Fuse Records.

Lastly, we salute the 148 Kickstarter pledgers, who answered our call for help, and without whose funding the album would not have seen the light of day. Grassroots support, without conditions and in the service of independent art.

Reem sees her albums as a project, not as a product. Her field trips, research into the songs, their arrangement and performance, plus the literary and creative work which go into her albums take time and energy, inevitably. It was during one of Reem’s field trips to Egypt, researching some of these very songs, that Reem found herself in the middle of the Egyptian revolution. She later reported on the music of the revolutionaries in Tahrir Square in her radio documentary ‘Songs for Tahrir’ on BBC Radio 4.

Add to this, Reem is continuing to work on a new album of Palestinian songs, a duo project with Jazz pianist Bruno Heinen, and on her vast project on the Egyptian composer Sayyid Darwish. She has also been involved in special performances, including:

• her performance as a soloist in Sir Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, alongside the Royal Philharmonic orchestra;
• her appearance as a soloist in Orlando Gough’s Stemmer, which was premiered at Bergen National Opera with the Bergen Philharmonic orchestra in 2014;
• her various appearances with the acclaimed Turkish collective Kardeş Türküler.

And finally, Reem continues to devote much effort to workshops, master classes and presentations in schools and colleges and with community groups and choirs.

"[Reem Kelani's] off-mic introduction turned out to be an endearingly apt overture to a performance in which she combined restless energy with vigorous political engagement, persuasive audience involvement and an illustrated, impressively far-reaching musicological dissertation." Rob Adams, The Herald Scotland, January 2016


released March 11, 2016

Fuse Records: Leon Rosselson
Production engineer: Steve Lowe (www.stevelowe.co.uk)
Recording engineer: Gurjit Dhinsa
Mixed by: Steve Lowe & Reem Kelani
Mixed at: The Miktab Ltd, Notting Hill, London
Mastered by: Nick Taylor
Mastered at: Porcupine Studios, Kent
Liner notes: Reem Kelani
Translation of lyrics: Reem Kelani & Christopher Somes–Charlton
Tunisian dialect consultant: Dr. Emna Rmili Wesleti, Sousse University, Tunisia
Turkish language consultant: Ülker Uncu, BGST Organizasyon, Turkey
Literary consultant: Dr. Salma Khadra Jayyusi, East–West Nexus/PROTA
CD design & artwork: Nora ElGazzar
Photography: Christopher Scholey
Additional photos: Omnia Abdo, Noemi Caruso, Paul Da’Costa, Karim El Degwy, Nora ElGazzar, Nono Hu,
Fabiana Lettieri, Maya Levy, Sonia Marconi, Rima Maroun, David Packard, Susannah Tarbush, Ignacio Crespo
Valdez, Laura Zanutti
TV footage: Afaq programme at BBC Arabic, 2012
Audience video footage: Karim Khartabil, Susannah Tarbush & Leila Younes
Promo video animation: Adam Orton
Promo video (CD I): Ignacio Crespo Valdez
Documentary video (CD II): Axel Salvatori–Sinz
Director, ‘The Shebabs of Yarmouk’: Axel Salvatori–Sinz
Executive producer, ‘The Shebabs of Yarmouk’: Adalios/Magali Chirouze & Taswir Films, France
Poster for ‘The Shebabs of Yarmouk’: Thomas Guillou
Disc manufacturing & print production: Akcent Media, St. Neots, UK
Website design: Steve French (www.stephenfrench.com)
Executive producer: Christopher Somes–Charlton
Produced by: Reem Kelani
Reem Kelani management & booking: The Miktab Ltd, PO Box 31652, London W11 2YF, UK
Website: www.reemkelani.com


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Reem Kelani London, UK

Reem Kelani is an independent artist. Please buy Reem’s music & support her work.
Get your copy of Reem's 2022 EP release "The Singer Said: Bird of Dawn". Reem's amazing booklet comes with the download!

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