Rim Banna (Arabic: ريم بنا ), is a Palestinian singer, composer, arranger and activist, who is most known for her modern interpretations of traditional Palestinian songs and poetry. Banna was born in Nazareth, where she graduated from Nazareth Baptist School. She currently lives in Nazareth with her three children. She met her husband, Ukrainian guitarist Leonid Alexeyenko, while studying music together at the Higher Music Conservatory in Moscow and they married in 1991, and got divorced in 2010.
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Banna first achieved popularity in the early 1990s, after recording her own versions of traditional Palestinian children's songs that were on the verge of being forgotten. Many such songs and rhymes sung by Palestinian families again today are said to be thanks to Banna's work in preserving them via her recordings.
Rim Banna also composes her own songs and adds melody to Palestinian poetry. Her message is often focused on the suffering of Palestinians, particularly those West Bank. Her music is described as "haunting, emotional, at times bordering on kitsch." She describes her music as a means of cultural self-assertion:
A part of our work consists of collecting traditional Palestinian texts without melodies. So that the texts do not get lost, we try to compose melodies for them that are modern, yet inspired by traditional Palestinian music.
In this way, Banna does more than mimic the traditional techniques and representations of the pieces she interprets. She blends them with modern singing styles because,
Oriental singing techniques are mostly ornamental… But my voice is more two-dimensional, thicker. I try to write songs that fit my voice. I want to create something new in every respect. And that includes bringing people elsewhere closer to the music and soul of the Palestinians.
She performs live in the West Bank. She reaches audiences in Gaza, which Israel physically bars Israeli residents from entering, through live webcasts.<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTRuo10CuM&feature=BFa&list=PLA97984849AC06870&lf=results_main> She performed her first concert in Syria on January 8, 2009 and also performed in Tunisia on July 25, 2011. Her first concert in Beirut took place on March 22, 2012.
Lullabies from the Axis of Evil
Banna's popularity in Europe began after Norwegian music producer Erik Hillestad invited her to participate on the CD Lullabies from the Axis of Evil (2003) and Norwegian singer Kari Bremnes, who also took part on this production in a duet with Rim Banna, invited her to Oslo. Banna accepted the invitation, and the two artists did a show together.
The album, dubbed "a musical antiwar message to U.S. President Bush from female singers in Palestine, Iraq, Iran, and Norway," brings these women together with others from North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Afghanistan, to sing traditional lullabies from their lands in duet form with English-language performers whose translation allows the songs to reach a Western audience.
Mirror of My Soul
The Mirrors of My Soul, which was dedicated to all the Palestinian and Arab political detainees in the Israeli prisons, is a stylistic departure from her previous body of work. Produced in cooperation with a Norwegean quintet, it features "Western pop styling" fused with Middle Eastern modal and vocal structures, and Arabic lyrics. Though the style differs from previous recordings, the subject matter has basically remained constant. The album includes "songs of despair and hope" about the lives of "a struggling people, and even a song about late Palestinian leader and PA president Arafat in a way that is both thoughtful and subtle".
- Jafra (1985)
- your tears Mother (1986)
- The Dream (1993)
- New Moon (1995)
- Mukaghat (1996)
- Al Quds Everlasting (2002)
- Krybberom (2003) Rim Banna & SKRUK
- Lullabies from the Axis of Evil (2003 – Various female artists)
- The Mirrors of My Soul (2005, Valley Entertainment)
- This was not my story (2006) Rim Banna & Henrik Koitz
- Seasons of violet (2007)
- Songs across Walls of Separation (2008 – Various artists from the Middle East, Africa, Central America, North America, and Europe)
- April Blossoms (2009) an album for children, was dedicated to the children martyrs in Gaza
- A Time to cry (2010), was recorded in one of Sheikh Jarrah's houses which is under a constant threat to be evicted from the part of their house (with 3 Palestinian singers)
- "Tomorrow" (Bokra) 2011, a single song of the American legend composer Quincy Jones, who chose Rim Banna to represent Palestine in this project which will be released in an Album and a video clip in September 2011
- Revelation of Ecstasy and Rebellion (2013), Produced by Bugge Wesseltoft
- Songs from a Stolen Spring (2014, Valley Entertainment/Kirkelig Kulturverksted - Various Artists), featuring "Break Your Fears"
- Rim Banna. "Rim Banna's Website".
- "World Music Central".
- Martina Sabra (2006). "Palestinian Singer Rim Banna:Music and Cultural Self-Assertion". Qantara.de.
- "Lullabies from the Axis of Evil". Harmony Ridge Music.
- Joe Heim (October 26, 2004). "'Axis of Evil' Lullabies: A Nod to Peace". The Washington Pose.
- "Lullabies from the Axis of Evil". Valley Entertainment.
- "World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa". Global Rhythm:The Destination for World Music. December 15, 2006.
- "Rim Banna:The Mirrors of My Soul (2005)". musikkguiden:groove.no.
- "The Mirrors of My Soul". Valley Entertainment. Retrieved June 28, 2010.