"I was afraid of darkness," are the opening lyrics of Dina El Wedidi's new single I Was Afraid (Kont Bakhaf) released on online platforms including YouTube and Soundcloud yesterday.
Composed and produced by El Wedidi to lyrics by Nada Shabrawy, the tune relies on guitar backing with minimal electronic support.
The music was arranged by Samer George, who also plays bass guitar in the track.
Despite the general lockdown that dominates the music and artistic scene, El Wedidi is among those artists who sustain their visibility through holding concerts and online interactions with their fans.
Most recently, El Wedidi participated in the ongoing WE Online Music Festival. On 8 May, she performed in a livestreamed concert which was a two-hour double bill presenting the Egyptian Project followed by El Wedidi.
I Was Afraid is a simple composition with expected progression, one that can be easily hummed by the listeners. On a musical level, it is a soothing tune that nevertheless capitalises on the lyrics which aimed to invite us to reflection. Though the song does not speak of El Wedidi's musical depth, the tune comes at a time when all musicians are trying to continue their creative work in the confinement of their homes or home studios, while reflecting on the many lessons that the pandemic and general shutdown has brought.
Not only a singer, songwriter, guitarist and duff player, but also a full-fledged artist, El Wedidi's relation with music began during the time she spent as an actress and a storyteller at El Warsha Theater Troupe, one of Egypt's very first independent theatre companies from which many renowned artists have emerged.
It was at El Warsha, helped by tutor Maged Soliman, where she got particularly interested in Egyptian traditional music, a genre which was to characterise her upcoming compositions.
As her exploration of music grew, El Wedidi left the theatre troupe, dedicating her time to composition and studying music, which included attending workshops with Grammy award-winning Egyptian musician Fathy Salama and Palestinian singer-songwriter Kamilya Jubran. Later on, she also appeared on stage with the latter.
While proceeding with numerous collaborations with Egyptian and regional musicians, together with Massar Egbari, Tamer Shalaby, Tunisian singers Mahdi Rabeh, Anis Dridi and Mohamed Bin Jemaashe, she worked on Khalina Nehlam ('Let's Dream'), a song which became a big hit during the Arab Spring.
A big educational step was when in 2012 El Wedidi was selected by Gilberto Gil and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative as a protégé, and for several months she was mentored by the Brazilian music icon. Their collaboration had a big influence on El Wedidi, and led her to feature Gil in one of the songs (titled The Night) in her debut album Tedawar w Tergaa (Turning Back) released in 2014.
The following years proved very successful for El Wedidi as her popularity soared. Apart from frequent performances with her band, El Wedidi continued to join numerous creative initiatives, including the Nile Project, which gathered musicians from the Nile basin countries, organising musical exchanges, lectures and tours.
During this period, El Wedidi released one of her best known songs, Ya Ganouby (Oh, My South), to the lyrics by Mido Zoheir (1974-2020), who also provided lyrics to many other songs performed by El Wedidi.
Most recently, El Wedidi was chosen among Time Magazine's Next Generation Leaders (2019).
El Wedidi is one of the Egyptian independent musicians whose rapid and significant creative growth has brought many interesting musical explorations along the way and to the audiences.
She frequently performs on the most renowned local stages and tours across the region and internationally, while presenting a repertoire that is influenced by many genres, from those based on Egypt's traditional material to reggae, jazz and electronic.
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