Updating this website has given me an opportunity to reflect on my songwriting and activism over the past decade (and life more generally, but that’s another story!).
Just over 10 years ago I made a conscious decision to dedicate my music to the community of resistance linked to my heritage as an Arab and my involvement in grassroots struggles. As military interventions raged in the Middle East and racist border regimes became the norm, songs were my way of speaking out and connecting our struggles for justice. The invasion of Iraq, the war on refugees that followed, workers struggles and ongoing catastrophe in Palestine continue to drive my work.
My first full solo album came after a long hiatus and had to be written following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As we predicted in the massive protests around the world that I had been a part of then, Iraq has only descended into more violence since. Along the way in 2006 Israel unleashed massive war of destruction on Lebanon and both themes sat at the heart of The Empire’s New Clothes.
The Empire’s New Clothes
The album also included two songs focused on the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their original homes in Palestine.
We Will Go Home
By 2008 Palestine was becoming the central focus of both performances and song writing. We were organising regular fund raisers and I was doing Palestine solidarity shows all around Australia and also organising within the Palestine movement. The song No More Lies was originally written during the destruction of Lebanon in 2006, it was updated to chronical the war on Gaza in Occupied Palestine in 2008.
No More Lies No More Silence
During my trip in 2010 to Occupied Palestine I experienced a glimpse of what it means to be Arab there – it inspired many songs that carry the stories of Palestinians I met. I left my Heart in Palestine was released on the Ghosts of Deir Yassin album
I Left My Heart in Palestine
On that same trip I visited Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, which gave me an even deeper understanding of the historical injustice against Palestinians, but also the centrality of return as a most basic, human right. I returned to film this video clip for Ghosts of Deir Yassin and was humbled by the strength and generosity of every Palestinian who shared the name of their original village for the clip.
Ghosts of Deir Yassin
By 2013 I was railing against the whole military industrial complex with the first song of the new Ghosts of Deir Yassin album.
Everything But Stop
As I dedicated my songwriting to Palestinian refugees, it was urgent to also address Australia’s shameful immigration system, treatment of refugees with continued mandatory detention that later morphed into a vicious off shore detention, imprisonment and in some cases murder. Who Killed Raza Barati was officially released on the One Song One Union album
Who killed Reza Berati
In 2014, as the siege on Gaza continued in full brutal force, Israel launched yet another military assault. Gaza was being sealed off from the world. It was again necessary to remind the world how we are all connected.
The Dark Tunnels
Somewhere in between the leaders of the big rich countries were all in Brisbane. I was in France at the time so I left this message before leaving the home town to enjoy the presence of all the biggest rulers of the world.
Let them eat money – Song For the G20
In 2015 workers at the Hutchison Port were sacked in the middle of the night by text message. Joining the picket line I wrote this song and made the clip the day the workers marched back to work after a successful campaign to overturn the sackings. The song was recorded with a full band and released on the One Song One Union album.
One More Day Than Them
Just when you think things can not get any worse the situation in Palestine always seems to.
Bad news from Palestine
Amongst it all was this song dedicated to the strong women of our struggles. The song was released on the 100 Days album.
2016 was also an important year of collaboration with Palestinian spoken word artist Rafeef Ziadah. I worked to produce her album We Teach Life and we toured it across several countries, including a sold-out show at the historic Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.
In 2017 I worked with a number of trade unions to put a spotlight on issues workers are facing on a daily basis: job security, precarious work, low wages, overwork, health and safety.
Stand Together was another song released on the One Song One Union album which was was commissioned by 7 unions and other organisations.
Just to round it off I rerecorded this union classic with the a couple of new verses that I picked up from the union struggles in the USA.
Stand up and be counted!
Blackfella Whitefella at Occupy Brisbane.