I apologize for not writing about this sooner…
In early December, I had the incredible opportunity to perform in Cairo, Egypt. Several bands (all of us recent graduates of Berklee College of Music) were selected by Nile Promotions, a new company run by Yasmin Tayeby, a recent alum, to perform two festival dates in Cairo and a workshop for disadvantaged Cairo children.
The experience was truly life-changing, both for the religious, historical, and natural wonders I experienced (mosques from antiquity, Giza Pyramids, the Red Sea, the Nile River, the Cairo Museum containing artifacts from King Tut’s tomb) as well as the unique context of these musical performances, two of which benefited cancer care for disadvantaged children and one of which was a U.S. embassy-sponsored workshop at the Geza Youth Centre.
Zac Taylor’s video documenting the experience.
The unbridled enthusiasm to the shows and workshops we played was unlike anything I’ve experienced in the United States. For the audience, an edgy American female-fronted rock band is a novelty—especially to young men and women. Performing in front of so many people reacting positively to every lyrical or musical moment in the songs reminded me why I continue to pursue this difficult field. In particular, the positive response from young girls, especially those still in traditional garb, moved me. While pro-West, Egypt is still a country where most young women live with their parents until they enter arranged marriages. Recognizing the light in the eyes of the Egyptian young people I talked to after the show, I came to re-appreciate rock music in the way that perhaps many Americans did in the 50’s and 60’s: as a force not just for entertainment but for liberation.
Musicians on this trip, as well as the media experts and business leaders that were involved in planning and implementing the festivals, are actively researching ways that we can bring our music back to Cairo soon and beyond to other countries.