Syrian Musicians Asala Nasri and Malek Jandali Criticize the Government, Get Death Threats

Asala Nasri
Asala Nasri

As violence continues to plague Syria, superstar singer Asala Nasri is joining forces with award-winning composer and pianist Malek Jandali. The two will take to the stage Sunday at the City National Grove of Anaheim, generously lending their time and support for a benefit concert. Proceeds from "For You Syria" will go to the humanitarian efforts of the Syrian Sunrise Foundation, which is dedicated to helping families, orphans and widows left behind in the conflict.

Nasri was born in Damascas, Syria, to a musical family, her father a notable composer and singer. She began her professional career in 1991 and has since released numerous albums, receiving acclaim and awards along the way. Living in Cairo, Egypt, she witnessed the social upheaval that ousted the despised, decades-long rule of President Honsi Mubarak. As unrest erupted in her mother country and deaths spiraled into the thousands, Nasri decidedly took a stance against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Freemuse, an independent organization advocating for musical freedom of expression worldwide, noted that the singer was outspoken early on, declaring that she was refusing to travel back to Syria to participate in "pro-Assad dramas." Her stance was harshly criticized, but also supported. This past September, she transformed her feelings into song composing "If Only This Throne Could Speak," her compelling vocals accentuating the lyrics' biting criticism of the seat of power that al-Assad occupies.

  Malek Jandali has also taken a strong stance in song. The composer and pianist was born to Syrian parents in Germany and raised in Homs, Syria. Currently based in Atlanta, Georgia, Jandali received the Freedom of Expression award for his song "Watani Ana" (I Am My Homeland). Causing controversy in Syria and here in the U.S., the lyrics read, "I am my homeland, and my homeland is me/The fire in my heart burns with love for you/Oh my homeland, when will I see you free?" The song's release prompted death threats and his parents were beaten in Homs. He squarely places blame on government security forces.

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Jandali's latest album Emessa features collaborations with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra and was inspired by the events of the Syrian uprising which continue on to this current day.

Asala Nasri and Malek Jandali perform as part of "For You Syria" at the City National Grove of Anaheim Sunday night.

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