17 Nov

Listening Post 173. During the Arab Spring, when authorities in Cairo built walls to block demonstrators from entering Tahrir Square, Youssra El Hawary recalled a satirical poem she had read a few years earlier about a wall. Seeing the verse in a new light, she put it to music, then went—accordion in hand—to one of the new barriers and filmed a video. Her clip, El Soor (The Wall), went viral, jumpstarting her career. She formed a band and proceeded to become a fixture of Egypt’s indie music landscape. El Hawary resists the revolutionary-artist label—even though that first video became an anthem of the Egyptian Revolution, even though she sparked renewed interest in the accordion and even though, with No’oum Nasyeen (Wake Up and Forget/نقوم ناسيين), she released her country’s first crowd-funded album. 

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