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Friday, 18 June 2021

'Baynee W-Baynak': Echoes of Levant in Dalia Farid and Ali Omar El-Farouk's first collaboration

The duo released their rendition of Baynee W-Baynak, a staple song originally performed by Huda Haddad, a well accomplished Lebanese singer and actress, and sister of the Arab world's diva Fairuz

Ati Metwaly , Sunday 16 May 2021
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In a recent creative collaboration, Egyptian guitarist, oud player and composer Ali Omar El-Farouk joined hands with singer Dalia Farid Fadel to create their rendition of a song Baynee W-Baynak Ya Hallayl (Between Me and You, O Night).
 
The song is one of the staple compositions originally performed by Huda Haddad, a renowned Lebanese singer and actress who comes from a well known musical family with Fairuz (Nouhad Wadie' Haddad) being her sister.
 
"Between me and you, O night, there is love and a song. You sit at my door, O night, and we stay up every night. Between you and me there are secrets and you know my sorrows," are the opening lyrics of the song composed by Elias Rahbani with words by the Rahbani Brothers.
 
Just like her sister Fairouz, Huda Haddad (born 1944) has a remarkable amount of musical accomplishments to her name even though she usually chooses smaller roles whether in numerous Lebanese television series or in theatre. As she began singing in the 1970s under the family umbrella (Rahbani Brothers), her voice has been often described as very expressive, carrying a gentle and sweet lining.
 
Baynee W-Baynak (Between You and Me) is undeniably one of Huda Haddad's best known songs from the 1970s, one that inspired many other singers to give it their own rendition.
 
As follows, earlier this week, Ali Omar El-Farouk released a video on his Facebook page in which Baynee W-Baynak is sung by Dalia Farid, giving it yet another color with El-Farouk's guitar and Farid's soft vocals.
 
Directed by Adham El Rayes, the video clip was shot at Cairo's Yamam Gallery while Maher ElMallakh of Blu Productions is behind the recording, mixing and mastering.
 
Set in charming visuals, Farid's musical sensitivity fuses with El-Farouk's masterful accompaniment that creates a unique creative ambience where both musicians coalesce to shed light on one of the most captivating songs of the Levant.

Dalia and Ali
 
It is in their duo that both musicians carry us through the delicate opening passages of the composition before moving towards stronger definitions and while creating the refined musical edge they do not undermine the sensual depth of the song but rather capitalize on brining the emotions to the fore. It is when we are raised to the musical climaxes, whether with Farid's accents or El-Farouk's stronger strokes, that the performers gently recede only to conquer the listeners with an even more powerful sense of longing.
 
A graduate with a degree in Jazz Performance from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, one of Canada’s top music institutes, and a bachelor’s degree with Distinction in Jazz Studies from Concordia University in Montreal, El-Farouk enjoys oscillating between classical guitar, Arabic heritage, and flamenco music, besides other genres. Having spent years in Canada and performing internationally, it is now that he decided to focus on adding his home country, Egypt, to his already rich portfolio.
 
Coming back from Montreal in 2019, El-Farouk's plans are multi-faceted, all touching on his large palet of musical interests. Filled with a lot of enthusiasm and numerous projects on his mind, a collaboration with Dalia Farid Fadel will obviously lead to an interesting musical journey.
 
In fact, Baynee W-Baynak is part of a bigger project that El-Farouk has at hand, an interesting endeavor that should have seen the light has not coronavirus postponed it.
 
"It all started in summer 2019. I already knew Dalia, an accomplished singer, but since I lived in Canada for many years, I haven't had a chance to meet her in person. Dalia first heard about me from two people: Luke Lehner who is an acting coach, as well as through my sister Layla whom Dalia has been friends with before meeting me. So in September 2019, a month before I moved back to Egypt, Dalia sent me a voice message on WhatsApp to introduce herself to me," El-Farouk explains to Ahram Online.
 
A political science graduate at the American University in Cairo, Farid also holds a masters degree in musical theatre from the Royal Academy of Music in London. Her vocal education and beginnings of career were at the hands of the Egyptian soprano and vocal coach Neveen Allouba, while her talent placed her on the stage of numerous musical theatre and opera performances and in more intimate settings where she also taps into jazz, pop, folk, French chanson and Arabic music.
 
"I approached Dalia to join me in one of the 'Invite' series,” El-Farouk mentions one of his several projects he hopes to implement in Cairo.
 
“We were supposed to have a concert in April 2020 at Room Arts Space and Cafe. We also eyed The Church of St. John the Baptist in Maadi for the classical guitar concert. The church is very close to Dalia's heart as she grew attached to it, while her father, renowned artist Farid Fadel, gives a weekly mass there. Then the Coronavirus pandemic forced shut down of all the plans," El-Farouk recalls the beginnings of his interaction with Dalia Farid.
 
Fast-forward and a year later, El-Farouk tried again to boost the 'Invite' series. “Though the second wave of pandemic made it difficult, again, we came up with an idea of writing an original song. Meanwhile, the Church of St. John the Baptist expressed their interest to host a concert in their premises,” El-Farouk reveals.
 
It was Farid who suggested that the duo records a song by Huda Haddad. "It is a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics. We rehearsed the song at the church,” El-Farouk points to the beginning of bigger plans of collaboration with the Church.
 
He clarifies saying that “the church's plans to set a cultural programme called 'Selah' [which translates to ‘Connection’], and I am happy to be part of the longer-term collaboration with it."
 
The first concert to take place in the Church will be on 5 June, and as El-Farouk explains it will be a promotional event for the new programme's launch.
 
Looking forward to the first event of ‘Selah’, El-Farouk explains that the concerts will take place inside the church, an intimate space characterised by "good acoustics and a welcoming atmosphere.”
 

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