Nov 28th, 2017, 04:55 PM

Spotlight: Syrian Singer Rasha Rizk

By Anabel Bachour
Cover for Rasha Rizk's album Malak ملاك. Image credit: Instagram/Rasha Rizk
"Eventually, the noises are silenced, but the music still lingers."

Syrian singer Rasha Rizk moved to Paris in 2014 to lead a life away from her country's crisis. She is known as the singer who sang all the children songs on Arab kids' channels. If you grew up watching the channel SpaceToon, you're undoubtedly familiar with her. She acted out many cartoon voiceovers, and, of course, sang the opening song of almost every animation show, including Mohaqeq Konan (detective Konan). 

Al Mo7a9i9 Conane - المحقق كونان

 

Rasha started professionally singing when she was only nine years old and joined the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus when she was 21. Recently, in March 2017, she released the new album Malak ملاك (Arabic for "angel"). It consists of nine songs, some of which she wrote back when she was still in Syria, and so consequently, the Syrian civil war was influential: "The significance of the album is to comprehend, and to shed light on the Syrian war victims as humans and not just numbers."

During my meeting with her, she told me all about the album: her inspiration and also, the message she hopes to give. The song Malak speaks of all the children who've died during this war, who've lost out on the chance to receive education, and who, most importantly, missed out on the opportunity to experience a normal childhood. As Rasha emphasizes, "According to UN statistics, we have over one million orphans, which honestly, is a terrifying number. For me, firstly, as a human being, secondly, a Syrian citizen, and thirdly, an artist, I feel that I have a duty towards my people." 


Image credit: Rasha Rizk

From this album, Rasha's favorite song is Sakru Shababik (Close the Windows), which she dedicated to those close-minded Arabs with a steadfast refusal to evolve and who continues to promote the old generations' habits and traditions. "By saying close the windows, it's phrased sarcastically: the way some cultures refuse to change and therefore, do their best to block development," she says. The song describes how everyone can find the courage within themselves to face development because the young generation needs this kind of change and openness to move on with their lives. 

Racha Rizk-Sakru Shababîk رشا رزق - سكرو الشبابيك

Maou'ouda is another song which Rasha speaks about passionately. There is no direct translation for the word Maou'ouda موؤدة, but it refers to girls who were buried alive during the pre-Islamic era. She sings about Syrian girls who were taken advantage of during the war; raped, and then following that, rejected by their families and society. Instead of embracing them following their traumas, these girls were either disowned or sold in the slave market in the name of marriage, or became homeless and forced to sell their bodies to survive. Rasha says, "The pain doubled for these poor girls, not only did they suffer from a sin which wasn't their offense, but they received punishment for it." 


Image credit: Rasha Rizk

"I hope that this album spreads the message that we all need to sympathize with immigrants, especially children. I want the whole world to understand that Syrian immigrants are just like them: ordinary people with feelings. I want everyone to know that they shouldn't refer to them as 'the others' because we're all the same." Before judging, she encourages everyone to put themselves in the shoes of immigrants. She is optimistic about her people, as she feels Syrians would welcome anyone into their country if it happened to be the other way around: "They would never treat them with inferiority." Artists have important roles to fill in society as channels for social discussion, which Rasha is highly aware of, "I know the sound which an artist makes is minimal, weak, and fiddly, especially compared to the noise of guns, wars, and pain. However, eventually, the noises are silenced, but the music still lingers. Remember, art is what lasts forever in any culture, and artists contribute to the world by leaving impressions." 

Let's all hope for the best for this angelic, emotive voice, which for me, provokes memories of early childhood to flood back. Rasha's album is available on Spotify and iTunes.


Image credit: Facebook/Rasha Rizk