We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Sprinting Gazelle - Palestinian songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora

by Reem Kelani

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      £9 GBP  or more


The Nazarene women crossed the meadow of Ibn 'Aamer. Wailing and crying as they went. Some carried children in their wombs; some were breastfeeding; Some were virgins not ready to yield up their treasure… As cowards might yield up their daughters. Will anyone help us, they cried? Will anyone relieve our pain? Will anyone share our burden? So heavy it slides off our backs!
The cameleer tormented my heart The day he made up his mind to go; Cameleer, take me with you! My journey is far too long, he said; Cameleer, can I ride with you? My load is far too heavy, he said; I shall walk, then, cameleer; Patience is a virtue, he said! • The cameleer tormented my heart • The day he made up his mind to go; • Cameleer, how long have you travelled the road? • Over fifty years, he said; • Cameleer, what have you in your caravan? • Refugee families and children, he said; • Where are you heading then, cameleer? • To my homeland Palestine, he said Oh brother, don’t spread your mattress We are not staying over. And don't slaughter your lamb We are not hungry. The cameleer tormented my heart The day he made up his mind to go. I asked: what is your first load? Coffee and cups, he said; I asked: what is your second load? Ginger and spice, he said; I asked: what is your third load? Old women cooks, he said; I asked: what is your fourth load? Well-adorned young maidens, he said.
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 buildings. 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…
How can I recognise him? All headdresses look alike. How can I recognise him? You eternally long for your mate. Even the fish in the water longs eternally for its mate. The moon is rising. Oh my loving mother, the moon is rising. Let's welcome our loved ones. If they visit for only an hour, let's welcome our loved ones. • For God's sake, beloved. For God's sake, don't torment your soul! • Don't make me worry! Tell me what hurts you. Don't make me worry. 'Ataaba stanza: We fled our homeland, And the tyranny of fate estranged us further. We left at night, not daring to look back, And left our homes open to the stars. They did not bid us farewell. They moved their tents by night, not bidding us farewell. Oh eyes of mine, if you have compassion, pour out your tears. • May sickness strike me instead of you, my love. Let sickness strike me instead of you. • I'll watch over you all night. I'll watch over you, light of my eyes. From amidst the Arab tribes, my love rode gloriously on his steed; With a saddle of gold and a rein of silver, my loved one rode gloriously on his steed.
I lost a beautiful dream I lost the lilies' sting My night has been long stretched over the garden walls But I have not lost the way My palm has grown accustomed to my wounded hopes Shake my hands with vigour and passion, a river of songs will flow O Guide of my colt and my sword Variation I: O Mother! I can endure the daggers' stabbing But not the rule of a coward. Your hands hover over my forehead, like two glorious crowns If ever I should bend, a hill shall bow, and a sky will be lost Then I am no longer worthy of a kiss or a prayer And the door will be slammed in my face They asked: do you love the beautiful woman? I replied: my love is worship. Her hair is lavish and abundant Her breast the dearest pillow Wedding her is a sign of valour Variation II: O Mother! I can endure the daggers' stabbing But not the rule of a coward. The children of tomorrow pray in your hands And my own child says: “my days will brighten” For you are my sun and my shelter. I defend the roses in yearning for your lips I defend the sand in the streets fearful for your feet And I defend my right to defend my right I defend my right to defend my right. Variation III: O Mother! I can endure the daggers' stabbing But not the rule of a coward.
Yearning 10:11
The sky cried in rain, giving solace to the burnt-out man; It made him more impassioned. Can one drowning in the open sea ask for a helping hand from the sky? Does he want rain to freeze his body and add to his torments? No! I ask the sky. Stop your tears! This broken-hearted man is at the end of his tether… This broken-hearted man is at the end of his tether.
O gazelle of all gazelles. You, who plan to go away As you set out on your journey, Offer your praise to the Prophet. My eyes flooded with tears, I cried over our parting. Crying over our parting, I've taken a vow of silence, I've forbidden myself to dance the dabkeh, I've dyed my clothes dark and gone into mourning. I've dyed my clothes indigo blue Over the loss of the Sprinting Gazelle. There is none as tall or slender I've looked everywhere and I haven't found its like. There is nothing like it left in this world. The day my fate was written, 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. Never asked about me, and look at the state of me now! O Lord of all mankind You give life and take it away You bring life to those who've been driven away My heart has been torn apart because of our parting. O gazelle of all gazelles. You, who plan to go away…
Yafa! 07:17
Yafa! My tears have dried up; I weep for you with stricken eyes Will I ever see you? Will I live long enough? How are your sister towns? How are they? I long for them As if each were a paradise. And those we left behind? Those we left for dead … I'm weary! I'm weary! But in my weariness I only complain to God And to no one else. Yafa… Yafa!
Oh! Our faraway land is beyond your vision In her lies our buried secret, our young maidens' dreams In her lie the graves of my mother and father, the graves of our love and our smiles And our love-scorched hearts sing her tender psalms. We fashioned our songs for her out of prayer We love her burning sands and merciless wind And her woes… and her woes… We love our orphaned existence within her; we accept her even in death. And we'll head towards her The more we are exiled, the more we'll head towards her Whenever the pride of life is humiliated before our eyes. So, go away, you killer of our longing Yesterday was our wedding and our funeral Don't you realise that we'd embraced you in our longing? And that our longing for you is now dead Our longing is dead… Though our promise is yet to come…
il-Hamdillah 11:44
Imhaaha stanza: Aweeha! Thank 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! That I have waited endlessly for this day 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 way of our fathers and forefathers You saddled your horses, and we saddled ours Our young men are serving coffee, in the way 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 the boasting of our songs You pitched a tent, and we pitched a tent Our brides are waiting in the hall, in the way of our fathers and forefathers Praise God we could build a house And it's now full of newly-weds Praise God we could build a courtyard And we can now live in comfort Praise God, praise God, praise God…


Considered as one of the foremost researchers and performers of Palestinian music, Reem Kelani brings you ‘Sprinting Gazelle – Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora.’ Some of the songs on the CD are Reem’s research and arrangement of traditional (and some very old) Palestinian songs; the others are her own musical settings of popular and resistance poetry by the likes of Mahmoud Darwish, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Rashid Husain and Mahmoud Salim al-Hout.

Reem’s band includes a Jazz rhythm section comprising Zoe Rahman on piano, Idris Rahman on tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet, Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Patrick Illingworth on drums. Egyptian violinist Samy Bishai and Iranian percussionist Fariborz Kiani complete the line-up.

Other artists on this CD include: Armenian duduk player Tigran Aleksanyan (playing the ancient and haunting Palestinian double-clarinet the yarghul); film-composer Dirk Campbell (who lends his string arrangements and nay playing); Salah Dawson Miller (on Arabic percussion); Paul Clarvis (on drums and frame drums), and Sonia Slany with her Solid Strings Quartet.

Reem Kelani sees her project as a means of demonstrating the fact of the Palestinians’ existence, now and in the past. She views her musical journey as both historical and political, personal and collective. She seeks to point out suffering and to highlight celebration. Her journey is a musical one through the written and oral history of a people who are proud of their collective sense of poetry, stories, music and existence. This is manifested in the detailed accompanying booklet which includes introductory notes for each song, lyrics in Arabic and English, and a comprehensive glossary of musical and cultural terms.

Leon Rosselson of Fuse Records offered his advice and his record label. This gave Reem the opportunity to produce the CD herself, thus maintaining her musical and cultural integrity and her independence. Raising the necessary funds for the project was by no means easy, but with the help of friends, family and supporters, the CD was finally made. It took two years in the process and is the culmination of more than 20 years of effort and hope.

Enjoy your journey with the Sprinting Gazelle!


released February 6, 2006

Thank You Shukran

* The Musicians: for playing with me and helping me through difficult moments.
* Leon Rosselson & Fuse Records: for supporting and advising me in the realisation of this project, and for giving my music this platform.
* The Sponsors: for rallying to help fund this CD. I remain forever indebted to you:
- The Afyouni Family (Wahib, Lubna Kelani, Heba, Suha, Sa'eed & Hana)
- Tom Clark
- Jamil & Khalida Habbas
- Yousef Kelani
- Stella Somes-Charlton
- The Stoat
* Steve Lowe: for your expertise, guidance, patience, 'clean' ears & true Northern soul. Bolton lives!
* Gurjit Dhinsa: for constantly reminding me that Truth is Eternal through your efficiency and your smile.
* Sara McGuinness: for introducing me to Steve, Gurjit & Gateway Studio.
* Salma Khadra Jayyusi: for your undying support, faith and invaluable literary (and other) advice.
* Susannah Tarbush: for assistance in securing funding and for your neighbourly spirit.
* Jo & Tess McEvoy, The Carlton Tavern, Maida Vale: for rehearsal space and your Irish hospitality.
* Ibrahim Shteiwi, lead choreographer, Al-Baidar Folklore Band (Jordan & Kuwait): for being a dedicated dabkeh teacher, and for arranging for the yarghul & mihbash instruments on this CD.
* Zoe Rahman: for introducing me to your warm family and to wonderful musicians along the way.
* Sima Bina: for providing genuine cowbells from Khorasan in Iran for use in the 'Cameleer' song.
* Nada Irani: for happily taking on the demanding design of the sleeve notes with enthusiasm, creativity and conviction.
* Anissa Helou: for your help in converting the poetry from Arabic Word into Quark on the road to Marrakesh!
* Bayan Nuwayhed al-Hout: for your prompt help in putting me in touch with the family of the late Mahmoud Salim al-Hout.
* Tony Edwards & Travers Symons: for your help and legal advice, both on and off the hockey pitch.
* Makram Khoury-Machool & Kate Daniels: for your help in translating legal documents.
* Adila Laidi: for your faith in the role of music and the arts in Palestine.
* Penny Bateman, Ben Burt, Shelagh Weir & Helen Wolfe: for welcoming me into the Palestinian Costume Exhibition at the Museum of Mankind (British Museum) between 1990-1992, and for the resulting friendships.
* Christopher Somes-Charlton: for your companionship, respect, support & knowledge.
* Safa' Ali Abdul Mon'em: for your unconditional love & friendship all these years.
* Friends of my youth in Kuwait: for enriching my formative years.
* The Kelanis & the Zu'bis, my paternal & maternal families respectively: for feeding me with a bittersweet sense of our 'collective' in Ya'bad, Jenin, Nazareth, Nablus, Palestine, Jordan, & elsewhere.
* Ayman, Hoda, Heba, Emily, Olivia, Suha, Sa'eed, Lily, Yasmin, Hana, Bruce, Zain & Bader: for teaching me how to be your Auntie, Khalto & 'Amto.
* Amin & Dalia, Angus & Sally, Antonia, Higgins, Jamie & Sue, Jenny, Kamyar & Maha, Martin & Sana, Nabil & Chahnaze, Phil & Jayne, Randa, Samar and Valma: for your loyalty & friendship.
* Massimo, Mary, Gill & Esmeralda: for your faithful care & sympathy. Grazie, Thank You & Gracias!
* Moustapha Akkad, Maha Barakat, Judith Dawes, Anthea Mander-Lahr-Coles, Michael Prior, Yusif Sayigh, & 'Khalo' Faisal Zu'bi: for leaving an unforgettable impression on my life and work, each in your own way.
You all journeyed from this world during the making of this CD. May you rest in Peace.

Produced by: Reem Kelani
Recorded at: Gateway Studio, Kingston Hill Centre, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, UK
Recording engineer: Steve Lowe
Assistant engineer: Gurjit Dhinsa
Mixed at: Gateway Studio & The Miktab, Notting Hill, London, UK
Mixed by: Steve Lowe & Reem Kelani
Mastered at: The Premises Studio, 201 Hackney Road, London, UK
Mastered by: Jason Howes
Production co-ordinator: Christopher Somes-Charlton
Liner notes: Reem Kelani
Arabic-English translations: Reem Kelani & Christopher Somes-Charlton
Literary consultant: Dr. Salma Khadra Jayyusi
Director: East-West Nexus / PROTA
(Projects of Cultural Dissemination and Translation from Arabic)
Poetry consultant: Alan Brownjohn
CD design & artwork: Nada Irani
Calligraphy: Bahman Panahi
Photography: Nada Irani, Reem Kelani, Yousef Kelani, Fariborz Kiani, Steve Lowe, Sahan Nuhoglu, Zoe Rahman, Christopher Somes-Charlton & Kostas Vidakis
Reem Kelani back cover photograph: courtesy of Roll Magazine, Istanbul, Turkey
Website designer: Reem Maghribi
Bookings & management:
The Miktab Ltd.
P.O. Box 31652
London W11 2YF
United Kingdom
Email: miktab@reemkelani.com
Website: www.reemkelani.com


all rights reserved



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!

contact / help

Contact Reem Kelani

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like Reem Kelani, you may also like: