May Nasr and Lourdes Pérez are considered musical icons in their respective lands, oceans apart: May, from Lebanon, Lourdes, from Puerto Rico. Both have a global following in their respective Arab and Latino communities. Yet a single event can connect two individuals from different worlds in an instant. During the Israeli bombing of Lebanon in July of 2006, May received an online version of "Ounadikom" (I Call To You All) by Ahmad Kaabour that Lourdes had recorded. A song about resilience against war and survival, translated and sung by Lourdes in Spanish and Arabic, sparked the connection between them and provided May a musical haven against the sound of shelling in the streets that night. The song was a homing pigeon that had traveled the world, returning when most needed.
After a year of exchanging letters and inspiration across the sea, the two singer-songwriters agreed to meet in person, with Lourdes giving May the rights to translate one of her songs to Arabic and perform it. They met for the first time in New York in 2007 and recorded Lourdes' song "Caminaré" ( معكن بمشي - I Will Walk) as a duet, which appeared in May's debut CD, Lil Ghaly. They met again in May 2009, in San Antonio, Texas to perform live together for the first time, uniting that city's Latino and Arab communities in songs about love and freedom. And the song that brought them together, continues to work its magic as Ahmad Kaabour, the song's beloved songwriter joins in the studio recording. In July 2011, at Gibralfáro Castle in Málaga, Spain, they performed together again to a passionate audience in front of the Mediterranean sea. A full-length CD, Written in Water, is scheduled for release later this year.
About May Nasr:
A native Lebanese, May Nasr has been influenced by the songs of the great Fayrouz, Zaki Nassif, Ahmad Kaabour, Marcel Khalife, Julia Boutros. In her early singing career, May was mentored by the renowned sound engineer Farid Abul Kheir, and trained by the great Zaki Nassif as well as Badia Sabra Haddad, former voice teacher or Fairouz. May has performed to ecstatic audiences throughout the Middle East and world. Her first CD, Lil Ghaly, was released in November 2008. She last performed at Alwan in April of this year.
About Lourdes Pérez:
Born into the improvisational musical traditions of Moca, Puerto Rico, chanteuse/poet and composer Lourdes Perez is marked for combining both power and fragility within the same voice. She has performed throughout the United States, Latin America, Spain and Palestine, paying soulful tribute to the passion and hope at very heart of human struggle. In 2006, she was awarded a United States Artists fellowship for excellence in music. Lourdes is the recipient of numerous awards, has performed duets with legendary artists such as Mercedes Sosa, Jane Siberry, Indigo Girls and Mexican master decimista, Guillermo Velázquez. She has recorded seven CD’s, and written several scores for theater, dance, and film.
Tengo La Vida (I Have Life) - By Puerto Rico's Lourdes Perez - This version is the live recording of Lourdes singing with Lebanon's May Nasr in Spanish in San Antonio-USA concert in 2009. (English and Arabic translations of the song are found below):
She used to say with a voice of thunder
With the power of a grandmother
I have confidence in life
Because life is my school
I have no pretentions
About my knowledge or eloquence
I only have these two hands
And the history of my people
I have life in my hands
It is the consequence of being a woman
It is the consequence of being a human being
I don't know of books nor poetry
I don't know of verbs nor adverbs
I know that love is equal to the roses
And I know of your black eyes
I know how to tune a guitar
I know how to play a melody
Because, to sing is another form
Of expanding your entire soul
I have life in my hands...
الحياة بين يدي
كانت تقول لي بصوتها العاصف
ثقتي بالحياة عظيمة
لأن الحياة هي مدرستي
لا أدعي المعرفة ولا اللباقة
ليس لدي سوى تلك اليدين
الحياة بين يدي
لست من يدعي معرفة الكتب ولا الشعر
ولست من يدعي الأفعال ولا الصفات
أومن بأن الحب كالورود
وأومن بعينيك السوداوين
أعرف كيف أدوزن قيثارتي
وأعرف كيف أعزف اللحن
فالغناء هو أسلوب آخر لامتداد الروح
فالحياة بين يدي...!