In 2012, amidst the rise of the pseudo-romantic, gruesome chaos and political playing field taking over Egypt, Youssra El Hawary entered into the screens of hundreds of thousands of Egyptian youth with her own personal rebellion, and her accordion.
In her track, “El Soor,” released in 2012, we find Youssra singing a sardonic song with her accordion about the walls mushrooming all over downtown Cairo under SCAFs rule in a post-Mubarak landscape. Her lyrics: “In front of the wall/ In front of those who built it/ In front of those who made it high/ Stood a poor man/ And peed/ On the wall and those who built it and those who made it high.”
These days a musician would likely be killed if they entered anywhere near Tahrir Square to sing, photograph or dance along the walls, which is what makes the video such a wonderful time capsule.
Fast forward some years later, and Youssra has become one of the larger alternative acts to book in Egypt, with her concerts garnering a couple thousand people and a respectable online following.
Meanwhile, the composer-singer-songwriter-accordionist is often experimenting with different forms of musical expression, be it her role in co-founding the Cairo Complaint Choir, which later became the Choir Project, or her track in Mohammed Khan’s “Factory Girl“, and of course her role as a vocal performer in the Al Tamye theater group. A personal favorite is her remixed track with Jakarta Records, ‘Ghareeb An El Medina (Brenk Remix)“.
Just last month she released the track “El Alam” (“The Flag”) featuring Abdallah Abu Zekry, with her accordion-noir sound signature and poignant self-reflective and social commentary.
Photo credit: Emma Studio