Whether performing at a concert or at a university conference, Lebanese singer and poet Jahida Wehbe is always in her element.
These same creative characteristics, which define her career, will come together when she attends the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit, which will take place at Manarat Al Saadiyat from Sunday to next Tuesday.
Besides performing selected songs with lyrics by revered Arab poets Kahlil Gibran, Mahmoud Darwish and Rabaa Al Adawiya, the artist is looking forward to mixing them with delegates from different disciplines.
It’s an atmosphere she enjoys, Wehbe says, as it brings her back to her college years studying psychology in college, in addition to completing a degree in voice and oud at Lebanon’s National Conservatory of Music.
“I think it’s vitally important for artists to expose themselves to as many different cultural arenas as possible,” she said. The National.
“And the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit is hugely important because of what it represents. We talk about how culture can essentially protect us from ignorance.
“Culture makes communities better and keeps us away from all kinds of extremism and discrimination that ultimately lead to wars and violence.”
It is the same conviction that has fueled Wehbe’s career, which harmoniously blends music, literature and theatre.
She first made a strong impression with the brilliant 2013 album Katabtanya fusion of restrained musical compositions paired with poetry by figures such as German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass and fierce Algerian feminist writer Ahlam Mosteghanemi.
From then on, she widened her literary field: in 2014 Shahdshe joined the Belgian quintet Osama Abdulrasol Ensemble (directed by the famous Iraqi qanun player) to musically accompany the poetry of great names in literature such as the Chilean Pablo Neruda and the Syrian Adonis.
In 2017, Wehbe brought his art to the small screen by collaborating with Abu Dhabi TV on a series of 30 musical compositions and spiritual videos to be broadcast every night during Ramadan.
Wehbe disagrees with the idea that his work can be considered niche.
“I just want to come up with a different approach with the music that I make,” she says. “I try to simulate and address people’s consciousness and thoughts because there’s a lot of music out there right now that speaks to people’s bodies.
“I try to rebalance that balance in my own way, but doing it in an inviting, modern style.”
One example is his hit show Divas, which toured Dubai and the wider region, including a performance at the 2020 Baalbeck Festival in Lebanon.
A mix of theater and live concert, Wehbe performed songs and monologues by some of the greatest singers from the Arab, French and Mediterranean world with modern jazz arrangements.
His latest single Beirut Tuffhaton Lil Bahris another moving example of this avant-garde approach.
A collaboration with Sary and Ayad Khalife, the sons of revered Lebanese composer Marcel Khalife, it’s a mix of musical styles, with Wehbe’s rich, raspy tones paired with a vibrant, improvisational score featuring Sary and Ayad on violin and violin respectively. piano.
The lyrics celebrating the splendor and tenacity of Beirut are also an amalgamation of poetry by Darwish, Adonis, Boland Haidari and Khalil Hawi.
“I wanted to collect poetry that speaks to the contrasting natures of Beirut,” says Wehbe. “It’s an iconic city that has gone through everything from periods of ambition and despair to beauty and misery.”
Wehbe confirms that the track will appear in the new album salt and shadows, to be published next year.
“It’s a project that features wonderful, rich Arabic poetry,” she says. “Sary and Ayad Khalife both produce and perform and I’m responsible for the melodies.
“It was a great experience because the music, although recorded in the studio, has a very organic and live feel to it and there’s also a lot of improvisation.”
While the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit has a limited number of seats for the public, Wehbe reveals that she aims to be back in Abu Dhabi with a new show.
“It is a collaboration with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and is inspired by the anthology of short stories Thousand and one Night,” She adds.
“I am currently in discussion with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism to bring this project, which started in Europe, to Abu Dhabi,” she says. “God willing, there will soon be good news in the future.”
More information about the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit is available at culturesummitabudhabi.com
Updated: October 19, 2022, 03:35