Some might disagree with the voice and songs of singer Ihab Tawfiq, considering he is one of the artists who have revolutionized Arabic music, but one thing is for sure; whoever watched his interview on Palestinian TV on Friday, November 17 saw a passion unprecedented towards Palestinian independence.
Following is the full text of the interview conducted by Al Ahram Al Arabi for Palestine TV:
Q: what is your opinion, as an artist, on what is happening in Palestine?
Tawfiq: The effect of what is happening now is not happening to me in terms of being an artist, but as a human being, an Arab, Muslim being. I have currently been sitting in my TV room and closing the door in order to watch what is happening on television. I find myself wishing that I was one of those Palestinians fighting. What is happening over there is unbearable. I cry every time I see footage of the Mohammad Durra murder and I have continuously found myself feeling his father’s pain at that terrible moment.
Q: Is the role of the artist, in situations like this, limited to just watching?
Tawfiq: What do I do? I participated in the ‘Arabic Dream’ in support of the Palestinian Intifada and I have also donated money, God knows. It is not important that I brag to you about how much money I donated. I also gave some of my blood and hoped, like all others, to hold a gun and stand alongside the Palestinian fighters. I am not saying that this in words only, and God knows how much rage there is inside me for what’s happening. Give me a gun and allow me to go to Palestine. My greatest hope at the moment is that I come back to you with the head of Sharon.
My feelings of oppression overlaps all others’ because I was singing in Ramalah only three months ago and I walked in the streets of Palestine and lived with its people. I watched the beautiful scenery. Many of my friends there have been wounded. The olive trees that I had held and loved now stand in ashes after the Israeli’s burned them.
Q: Has your passport been tainted with an Israeli stamp?
Tawfiq: I did not enter Palestine through Israel, and would never. I entered through the borders of the Palestinian Authority. As much as I was able to, I sand to my brethren there, and spend time with the children and kissed the innocent hands that are fighting with stones.
Q: Despite all this enthusiasm, you did not participate in the Egyptian artists demonstration against Israel?
Tawfiq: I preferred to participate in the Youssef Shahine demonstration I was also planning on getting to Rafh through the demonstration but was surprised when it was cancelled.
Q: Does your giving to your brethren in Palestine stop at that, although the Intifada has not ended yet?
Tawfiq: My giving will not stop. The proof of that is that I am currently searching for lyrics that define the situation. I will also not hesitate to participate in any activity or concert whose proceeds would go to Palestine.
Q: Do singers need large organizations as opposed to smaller ones.
Tawfiq: We, in Egypt, are missing an organization that looks after the well being of artists. We are missing what other Arabs are missing. The large institution makes allows the artist to concentrate on his or her art as opposed to having to take care of every single detail. The Egyptian singer chooses himself the words and lyrics and the time the album will be released. He or she also chooses the costume, the time of the concert or TV program and the times of the press conferences.
Q: But the organizations require sometimes that the singer get specific lyrics and songs that might not interest the artist.
Tawfiq: The choice of the lyrics and music is a decision made between the singer and the institution, because, the former does not sing just to sing, he has to feel and live the work in order to sing it from the heart.
Q: If working with an institution attracts you, then why don’t you work with ‘Hermes,’ which aims to sign exclusivity contracts with artists?
Tawfiq: Hermes and other such organizations have offered me to work with them more than once, but I declined. I will not allow any sort of exclusivity contract. Also, I am very happy with the company that I am working with now and I have released, through this company, many albums that my audience received very well.
Q: You are one of the pioneers in the Arab world who created the models on music video’s concept in the region. Does the director or the singer choose these girls?
Tawfiq: I have never, not once, agreed to these models on my music videos. However, I am constantly surprised by the directors when it is time to shoot and everything has been set, with the models and their clothes. To be honest, I am the least of the singers who have used models in their videos.
Q: Does the use of barely dressed models help in the song’s success?
Tawfiq: All throughout my career, I have never shot a music video before the album was released. The song Ahd Al Leil (I Swear by the Night), is the only song that was ever released at the same time as its music video. However, the success of a song, to me, is not related at all to the music video. And the proof is the success of my songs before they rae released as videos.
Q: Where do you stand on the issue of singing at parties, birthdays, weddings and other such events?
Tawfiq: I do not like the parties that you are referring to and I hardly ever perform at birthdays and even then, I only do that when the birthday is of a relative or a friend. – Albawaba.com.
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