Life lessons from inspirational women: Abeer Nehme

Abeer Nehme is a Lebanese singer and a musicologist. (Supplied)
Updated 14 August 2018

Life lessons from inspirational women: Abeer Nehme

What I love most about my work is that it reflects my true nature. And it has allowed me to travel and meet people of different cultures. Music is my passport and it enables me to deliver a message and express ideas that any other language would have failed to deliver. I feel like my music is making a difference and spreading joy, hope and beauty.

Because I’ve traveled a lot and worked on a series of documentaries — “Ethnopholia: Music of the People” — I’ve met a lot of people who are not particularly famous, but who carry music in their hearts and lives. They have had a great influence on me as a person and as an artist. I feel so lucky to have met them. Along with my friends, they are like guardian angels. I believe every person we meet leaves their fingerprint in one way or another.

My list of musical influences is long. But it starts with my father. He had a great voice and also played the lute. He introduced me to traditional Oriental modal music when I was very young. That’s how my journey started.

Professionally, my biggest regret is the opportunities I maybe missed because I lacked maturity. But I consider all my experiences to be lessons, rather than regrets.

Personally, I regret not spending enough time with precious people like my mom, dad and siblings. I regret the time I did not spend with people who were so close to my heart and who unfortunately passed away. I cannot go back in time and make up for that.

As a woman in the music industry, the biggest challenge I’ve faced with men was to keep things professional and preserve boundaries. But sometimes men are actually easier to deal with than women.

I believe things are starting to change in our society, and women are starting to be more valued and appreciated. Women have a very important role to play: We are the symbol of life, of earth. We perpetuate life. What is more important than that?

Women should be given more opportunities in the political field. Men have been ruling the world so far and all we’ve seen is war, violence, bitterness… I believe women can come up with important changes if they could take political decisions. We have a strong ability to multitask, and endurance that exceeds that of men. I’m not saying men are less important, but women should be given more chances.

Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

Ithra takes visitors to the magical world of Manganiyar, an Indian folk music, in Dhahran on Wednesday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018

Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

  • There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me”

DHAHRAN: The King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran has been transporting its visitors to the magical world of the Manganiyar from Nov. 14-17. The Manganiyar is a timeless Indian orchestra originally born in the region of Rajasthan in north India, which has continued over many generations.
The basic song on which the show is based comes from a poem by the 17th-century Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah. The resulting folk music is an audio-visual feast that mixes light and voice and features more than 40 musicians in one performance.
The first Manganiyar show in Ithra was sold out.
“It was the first time in my life that inspiration dawned on me; it was like a heavenly gift,” Roysten Abel, the director of the musical show, told Arab News when he was asked how the band started their touring and performance journey.
“I was in Spain working as a street performer. One day I was resting and I heard wonderful music, which I thought was a dream. Then I realized that there were two musicians outside my room singing to wake me up. I then proposed the idea of forming this Manganiyar band,” Abel said.
Abel went to the Manganiyar’s hometown to create the band.
“I went to Rajasthan, auditioned almost 200 musicians and finally selected 50 to have our first show in 2006. Since then, if I ever listen to an old Manganiyar musician or a new one, I still weep because they haunt me with their singing.”
There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me.”
Creating the performance and the harmony between the band members and the director took time.
“The musicians needed to know what this guy who is coming from outside wants? What is he going to make us do? Building the relationship took around a year and a half, and so it took us year and a half to build up the show.”
“I always say the Manganiyar selection was God’s gift to us because it was actually given to us and it runs on its own.”
Abel said that the Manganiyar show always sells out anywhere it goes due the experience it offers. “There has not been one show where we have not received a standing ovation.”
“We even performed in Hyde Park, Sydney, where nobody knew what to expect,” Abel said. “There were a good 10,000 people in the park, and when the show was over these 10,000 started clapping and even stayed for the second performance!”
Abel shared the band’s insights about their first visit to Saudi Arabia: “We were very curious to see how it was going to be received, but it turned out to be one of the best performances and the audience was thrilled. So, there’s always a lot of surprises and I tend to never expect. I just love to see what happens.”
Abel urged everyone to turn up and have their own experience of the Manganiyar. “People should all come and tell their friends to come, and live the show, because at the end of the day the show is not like any other music concert; it’s an experience of its own.”
Abel said that people’s responses to the show varied; some left in tears while others “jumped with joy.”
What matters to him, he said, is that people get the essence behind the show, which is love.