Gaza – Gaza Post | After several successful projects in North Africa and the Middle East, Johno decided to visit Palestine to meet with the people and listen to their stories. Convinced that “he must see the place himself”, Johno visited West bank several times and produced musical projects there with young Palestinian artists.
Thereafter, he had the opportunity to visit the Gaza Strip, which he described as a captivating place “wonderful people who create true art, and great music, in spite of living in such extremely poor conditions that can barely be imagined.” Johno then decided to produce the old song “Blackbird” for the young singer Wafaa Alnjaili, who works as a nurse at one of Gaza hospitals, also featuring young singer Alaa Shoublaq, who emigrated few days after filming the song to settle in Belgium. It’s a song that brings hope. It was co-produced by artist Ayman Mghamis, who translated the infamous 1968 Beatles song to Arabic. The track was recorded in one of Gaza’s few remaining studios, and the video was shot at the Sea of Gaza- to symbolize freedom and liberty.
Johno says: “We chose to shoot this video in the sea, to show a different face of Gaza and to show the greatest symbol of optimism, as if to offer an opportunity for freedom”. “Before I came to Gaza, I watched a wonderful film entitled “Gaza Surf Club” which also served as inspiration for this video”.
He adds: “This song is a message of hope and peace. The young men and women of Gaza are living in the worst conditions in the world, yet they are making a great art, and maintain their humanity, just as Lennon and McCartney wrote “into the light of the dark black night”.
The Irish artist, who is famous in his solidarity with the Palestinians and their cause, noted that there are more upcoming musical projects with young artists from Gaza who deserve the world’s attention, announcing that this song comes as part of an integrated musical project in Palestine. He has already produced the song “Fi Mahal” with the young Palestinian artist Lina Sleibi in Bethlehem.
He says “I visited Palestine a number of times and I love it,”. “There are many projects that we hope and dream to implement in Palestine, both musically and educationally, and I think that the world should listen and know more about the true creativity of Palestinian artists.
He concluded: “We dream to produce a full album of these songs with these amazing young artists, and for this wonderful land of Palestine.”
The Palestinian artist and producer Ayman Mghames reveals that the idea of the album is based on the reproduction of famous English songs with a strong motif of hope and freedom. These songs were carefully translated to arabic, and orientally re-arranged.
Mghamis, who is a famous rapper in Gaza and beyond, points that this mutual journey has begun as far back as 2016, when Johno started initial contacts with Palestinian artists.
Ayman adds: “I was touched by his passion to work with Palestinian artists and to create music together, and we have many more wonderful artistic surprises in stock for 2019- from Gaza, and the West Bank. We want the world to hear the voices of these great Palestinian artists, both the unknown, and those already famous”.
Mghamis confirms that the idea of “The Album” is based on the production of twelve music videos, which will serve as an international jumping board for young Palestinian talents. “Johno’s visit to Gaza was like an impossible dream, in which we managed to record Asfour-Blackbird and sketch out a few more songs. These will be released as soon as the political situation allows for their completion”.
Palestinian singer Wafaa Alnjaili pointed out that the importance of this song is the international exposure it grants her beyond the Gaza Strip. In addition to being one of the few times she sings in Arabic, because she is used more to classical English singing.
Al Najili confirms that the great benefit of working with a global producer like Johno is the multicultural artistic convergence created by the direct meeting and on-location mutual work.