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Singing the forbidden: Dina El Wedidi at TEDGlobal 2013

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Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Dina El Wedidi is a traditional Egyptian singer — but with a global twist. While her powerful chant draws from Egyptian folk songs, her lyrics speak to a generation of young Egyptians estranged from their government and looking for connection. Meanwhile, her band members play the guitar, the accordion and even the Irish violin.


Photo: James Duncan Davidson

At TEDGlobal 2013, El Wedidi plays two songs. First, “Al-Haram” which El Wedidi translates as “The Forbidden.” She says, “[It’s about the] idea of prejudging, and the misuse of religion to forbid love, art and so on.”

Next, El Wedidi plays “Hozn El-Ganoub (The Sorrow of the South).” She explains, “The south of Egypt very important — it’s the source of the Nile and the source of life.”

El Wedidi has gained popularity in Egypt since the uprisings of 2011, thanks to her thoughtful lyrics that pack political punch and her call for self-realization. As she sings in “Al-Haram”:

“What’s forbidden is not to sing / What’s forbidden are words, half of which are lies.”