La Danza Poetica #63 Rim Banna : Voice of Resistance

A special edition of La Danza Poetica dedicated to the life and work of Rim Banna, the poet, singer, and activist who left this world in March. A tribute to her extraordinary example, and to the power of poetry and music to amplify the stories and the struggle of Palestine to the world.

In 2015, after battling cancer for six years, Rim Banna was told that her vocal chords were partially paralysed and that she could no longer sing. She was, of course, defiant; she decided to experiment. In collaboration with Erik Hillestad and SC MoCha of Checkpoint 303, the idea for the album Voice of Resistance was born. Checkpoint 303 remixed data from Rim’s medical files (PET and X-ray images) by converting them into sounds and rhythms. Bugge Wesseltoft’s warm and melodic piano improvisation and Rim’s still rich, still powerful voice work in harmony, and all together create a moving conceptual artwork, a political and personal document, a final act of creative resistance. 

With great thanks to SC MoCha for sharing his his thoughts about this album and his own work with me for this show. We spoke over a sketchy Skype connection earlier this month, and I’ve woven his words into a mix of tracks from Voice of Resistance, other pieces of Rim’s work from across the years, Checkpoint 303’s previous album The Iqrit Files, poetry from Palestinian sons and daughters Suheir Hammad, Rafeef Ziadah, and Mahmoud Darwish, plus a recent collaboration between Brian Eno and Le Trio Joubran. 

Rim Banna united Palestinian people from different faiths and political stances, and amplified the voice of the Palestinian struggle for freedom around the world. She is a powerful example of how poets and artists can, through linking between tradition and today, and hope for the future, encourage deeper listening and the opening of hearts and minds. Rim Banna as a voice for Palestinian culture and for freedom has done so much, and will continue to do so, because we will continue to listen to her.

Tracklist

Rim Banna - Language of Silence
Rim Banna - The Last Cord
Rim Banna – (Live, TEDxRamallah)
Rim Banna - My Dream Road of Roses
Suheir Hammad - Wind (Break) Her
Checkpoint 303 - Road to Jerusalem
Rim Banna - A Time to Cry
Rim Banna - Deadly Music
Rim Banna - My Songs Will Sound from the Squares
Rim Banna - The Trace of the Butterfly
Rim Banna & Henrik Koitzsch - This Was Not My Story
Mahmoud Darwich - Le lanceur de dés (Quatrième partie) [Le Trio Joubran]
Rim Banna - Ya setty (lullaby)
Rafeef Ziadah - Pillow
Brian Eno with Trio Joubran - Stones
Checkpoint 303 & Wardeh Sbeit - My Homeland
Rim Banna - A Rose in the Battlefield
Rim Banna - Loving You

Notes on the show


Update, 16 May:

Since making this show, and in the light of the latest grotesque show of force, with the US opening their embassy in Jerusalem on the same day that the Israeli army are killing and wounding Palestinian people, during the Nabka, I'd like to share this article by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Please click on this image below and read..


Watch Rim Banna's TEDxRamallah performance:

A Time to Cry video:

On the CD A Time to Cry four Palestinian voices, Rim Banna, Nai Barghouti, Wissam Murad and Jawaher Shofani give a live concert together with an international band to a packed audience. They all strive to find enough space in the small rooms in the house where 90 years old Rafiq Al-Kurd and her family still live in Sheikh Jarrah. Israeli settlers have supported by Israeli police done some nocturnal raids in the neighbourhood and thrown out several families, some of whom temporarily live in Al-Kurd's house. Some of the songs on the CD are written especially for the occasion, some are traditional songs from Palestine, mostly about Jesrusalem. Under the headline "A time to cry" they add to a 3000 years old tradition in Jerusalem: To cry and lament the city whose children so often have suffered.

I wrote about Checkpoint 303's album The Iqrit Files here on its release. SC MoCha's video, of Jawaher Shofani singing Fassalo Thobak, also features Rim Banna.

Finally, the Brian Eno / Samir Joubran collaboration I play in this show comes from Block9 Creative Retreat Palestine. London artists Block9 released this collection in April. Works created during a kind of conscious creative retreat, in Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in the shadow of the 25 foot high concrete Israeli separation barrier. The album is available here:

Main image: Rim Banna