TO Tarabband’s lead singer Nadin Al Khalidi, the meaning of singing goes beyond the glamour of the stage and being all dolled up in a pretty dress.
For the 35-year-old singer of the six-member Egyptian and Swedish band, her aim to create social awareness through her lyrics which tell of her odyssey of survival, exile, life and rebirth.
Born to an Iraqian father and an Egyptian mother, Nadin and her sister fled from the war in Iraq to Sweden in 2001 after their parents passed away.
“We had to stay in refugee camp then. My parents were gone and I lost all my friends too.
“I learned to play the piano and classical music since young and I met with musicians who play western music in Sweden.
“I am fluent in Arabic and Swedish as well but singing has made me love my mother tongue (Arabic).
“Sometime later, when I was 27 years old, I created Tarabband (in Sweden),” said Nadin after the band’s performance during the Penang World Music Festival at the Esplanade recently.
“There is so much going on in the world. The incident invol-ving the 12 people killed in Paris where gunmen shot them in January made world headlines.
“But the incident where Iraqi women allegedly had their hands chopped off by Islamic State militants in February for using cellphones did not even make the news. Maybe it’s because most people think ‘oh, that’s how it is’.
“I think about these people, who have a voice, and I try to make it my mission to be theirs,” she said.
She added that she hoped to deliver the message through her lyrics to the audience, media and politicians as she travels across the globe for her performances.
State Tourism Development Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang said 12 groups were showcased during the two-day festival.
“This is the only time of the year where Penangites can enjoy various types of music all in one venue.
“It is also held for the very first time at the Esplanade, as it is an important centre of our Unesco Heritage City,” he said.
The rain on the opening night of the concert did not dampen the mood of visitors, who danced and whooped to the tunes of the performers.
The Nading Rhapsody team from Sarawak kicked off the first act with a series of catchy beats followed by Tarabband that enraptured the audience with Nadin’s soulful lyrics and tunes.
Ajinai from Mongolia delighted visitors with traditional music which reflects the sounds of nature infused with modern rock while Prem Joshua from India offered a blend of harmonious tunes with a touch of ancient Indian music.
Annuluk from Germany enchanted the crowd with urban and modern sounds while Dizu Plaatjies and Ibuyambo from South Africa drove the crowd wild with their traditional African songs.
The second day of the festival continued to thrill with Vedan Kolod playing Russian folk music and Raggy Project from Malaysia impressing the crowd with their booming and bold percussions.
Casuarina from Brazil set a good pace with their music while Gus Teja World Music from Indonesia followed by Trad.Attack! from Estonia presented eye-opening performances with their energetic folk music.
As the finale, award-winning Raul Rodriquez, the lead from the band Razon de Son from Spain, staged a spectacular flamenco performance.