A single that can't be missed: 'Beirut' by Lebanese singer Yolla Khalife

Lamiaa Alsadaty, Monday 1 Feb 2021

Released last month, the song is a tribute to all the Lebanese people 'who lost their lives and homes'


“In memory of all the people that lost their lives and homes! Through this music we can hear the waves of Beirut coming and going like a lullaby that lulls us to total appeasement,” writes Sary Khalife in a comment section accompanying the new music video of her new single, ‘Beirut’.

The video clip  released on Sary Khalife’s YouTube channel on 28 December 2020, then on Yolla Khalife’s channel last month.

“May this year be better than the previous one and I wish you all a lot of courage,” the comment continues, as the composer looks at the year 2021 with hope.

The song’s musical arrangement and main melodic lines, which were performed on piano and cello, were composed by Sary Khalife, with Yolla Khalife lending her voice to the track’s vocals. 

The song is far from being commercial, with its title carrying many connotations. It is about Beirut, the Lebanese capital that is a fusion of contrasts: Love and hate.

The lyrics are written by Yolla Khalife and as she sings, we can hear a cry from the heart as the singer’s soothing voice shows gentleness but also strength; it is a voice that expresses the colours of Beirut.

The lyrics call for the better days of a city that is now ravaged by corruption and is risking losing its mind.

“The city of poets… the city of love… the city of the moon… where are you?”

The music gently emphasises the spirit of a lost city. The dreamy notes of the piano and cello add this strong charge of melancholy to the composition.

Born in Jezzine, Yolla Khalife has been impressed by religious songs and mouashahat since her early years.

She was a core member of Al-Mayadine ensemble, which was founded by renowned composer and oud player Marcel Khalifé in 1976, whom Yolla married.

After 1980, she took a break from the music scene, only to return in 2000 to the same group and tour many Arab and European countries.

Since 2011, she has been musically collaborating with her two sons Rami and Bashar, as well as with Sary Khalife, a nephew of her husband, Marcel.

Whenever the Khalife family is brought to the spotlight, the press tends to mention Faïrouz and the Rahbani family music history. The comparison with the Lebanese diva and the Rahbani family is inevitable whenever a Lebanese musical family project appears on stage. Without doubt, it is not a fair comparison. 

“The Rahbani family is a story, a prolonged civilisation,” Yolla Khalife replied in one of the press interviews. Indeed, the Khalife family’s experience, and specifically that of Yolla, cannot be compared to that of Faïrouz and the Rahbani family, even if it belongs to the similar musical genre. 

Yolla Khalife has released four albums, the last being On the Road (2019).

She now gives to us Beirut, as we wait in anticipation for her to release her next album very soon.

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