Basel Zayed is a distinguished young man, unique in the Palestinian landscape. I have known him as a singer, music player and composer for almost ten years. He has played solo and in various bands including Sanabel, the First Ramallah Group, Yalalan, and recently Turab. I have always felt he did not receive sufficient attention, although he is a world-renowned artist who has given a number of performances in Arab and European countries.
Zayed has a different approach to singing and the messages conveyed. He does not choose his words at random nor does he accept to sing everything proposed to him. He is quite picky when it comes to the lyrics of his songs so that they express his internal soul. He employs tremendous and special effort to edit the words and music. The result: unique pieces of art.
To understand Zayed, it is essential to review his long experience as a composer and singer. He has the ability to surprise his audience with a series of musical dialogues, an interaction between the audience and the artist.
Turab is an ongoing distinguished experience in Zayed’s artistic career. The band’s name Turab (soil in Arabic) was not randomly selected. It came after a lengthy artistic path that the artist has gone through. Zayed says, “Soil is where we, humans, come from; we are equal and we have the right to live and to life. Soil is worth our effort, hard work and struggle. Turab was selected for every word we say or sing lives on this soil: political issues, ideas expressed by Turab in its songs. We come from this soil and this gives the name a philosophical meaning.”
With Turab, Zayed performed a unique album, “Hatha Layl” (This is Night). He skilfully chose his words and music, merging different patterns of Arab and western music in which the oud remains the key companion of the rhythm.
Zayed’s ambitions did not stop with Turab and “Hatha Layl,” notwithstanding the fame he has gained. He has embarked on another unique work that has not been officially released yet, “Adam.” This album is a real shift in his artistic career. It comprises twelve pieces, half of which he sings on his own while the other half, which he composed and plays, is heard through his band’s singing. As in his previous work, he focuses on citizens’ suffering, pain and hopes. “Adam” represents oppressed people living between hunger and occupation. It is about a child, Adam, born under occupation and suffering from starvation that pushes him to sell goods at traffic lights in Jerusalem. Zayed has met this child and talked to him. He was affected by the child’s story and has named the album after his name.
The album also tackles other concerns: the suffering of journalists and freedom of speech; Ramallah’s suffering between the occupation and the security chaos; the desire for change and a return of hope; a new dawn and a more beautiful morning.
Zayed is a man full of energy and has a tremendous ability to give and produce artistic work that expresses national and humanitarian interests through his poignant lyrics, music and performance.
Compiled by Ziyad Jayyoussi. To learn more about the artist, visit www.baselzayed.com.