Behind Fairuz’s powerful force in Macklemore’s Hind’s Hall

As a member of the Palestinian diaspora globally watching the brutality in Gaza, I can confirm that none of us are the same as before October 7, 2023. 

But the world has also shifted, with chants in solidarity with Gaza being amplified outside of the region to the West — where regional proximity is no longer a barrier in standing up for humanity.

Student movements in the United States and Europe against their countries’ support for Israel’s brutal onslaught of Palestinians have been moving mountains. 

The protests have provided Palestinians in Gaza with a sense of hope, given the staunch support of most Western nations to the brutal Israeli war machine.

Perhaps a symbol of the shift of Western attention to the cause can be summarised in Macklemore’s latest song, Hind’s Hall.

Macklemore has been among the most vocal American celebrities since the beginning of the genocide and his song further amplified his stance. 

The song’s title was inspired by Hind Rajab — the six-year-old Palestinian girl killed by the Israeli military — and the name pro-Palestine student protesters at Columbia University gave to a building on their campus, Hamilton Hall, as they waved Palestine’s flag up high before the police attacked them. 

In the track, Macklemore directly calls out the US government’s backing of Israel and the police violence against the peaceful student protesters by saying: “The problem isn’t the protests, it’s what they’re protesting…. It goes against what our country is funding,” highlighting Washington’s military and political backing of Tel Aviv.

“When I first heard it, I instantly thought of Fariuz’s power that has long shaped the region’s musical industry while providing a sense of regional unity”

Apart from the powerful verses, what makes the song even more striking is the music he sampled from Ana La Habibi (I Belong To My Lover) by Lebanese icon, Fairuz.

The musical solo at the beginning is probably what first grabbed the attention of Arabs, mainly due to their familiarity with the tune.

When I first heard it, I instantly thought of Fariuz’s power that has long shaped the region’s musical industry while providing a sense of regional unity.

Fairuz’s mysterious power

For one to truly understand the real power of Macklemore’s track, one must also take into account Fairuz’s mysterious, yet harmonious force.

Those who grew up in an Arab household, especially from the Levant — Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria — always had Fairuz in the background. 

Fairuz’s voice became associated with road trips, morning coffee, breakfast and much more — her songs spoke about love, heartbreak and even nationalism.

“Fairuz became the common language that connected the divided region despite her being apolitical”

Simply, she has always been there and her lyrics still resonate with all listeners.

While her legal name is Nouhad Haddad, her star name Fairuz translates to “turquoise” in Arabic, resembling the colour of the waters that connect the region.

Indeed, Fairuz became the common language that connected the divided region despite her being apolitical.

In her home country, Fairuz’s voice connected Lebanon’s deep political divide and people found peace when they listened to her music during the 1975 civil war.

She became known as “The Voice of Lebanon” and “The Cedar of Lebanon.”

At the time of the war, Fairuz released Li Beirut (To Beirut) as an ode to her country. The song spoke up for millions of Lebanese and its effect remained, especially with the country still divided between numerous factions. 

Fairuz’s power also became clear in the aftermath of the tragic Beirut Port explosion in 2020, a dark event that Lebanon’s population cannot forget.

When French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to Lebanon on September 1, 2020, he chose to meet Fairuz first in her house before he was pictured with any politician. 

At the time, Fairuz appeared for the first time after a long hiatus away from cameras. It was the first time everyone saw the interior of her house and the images provided the Lebanese population with a sense of peace.

The thing about Fairuz is she never chose to be in the limelight, rarely ever takes interviews and has not been on stage for more than a decade, yet she has been a key regional force.

Fairuz also sang about Palestine in her eight-minute song Zahrat Al Madaen (Flower of Cities), a song that Palestinians to this day still listen to.

The song came out in 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in a bloody war, widely known as “the Six-day War” and Naksa, or “setback”. 

The most powerful verses in her song are the ones at the end:

“The glaring anger is arriving, riding the steeds of the fear, and will defeat whoever is in power. This is our home and Jerusalem belongs to us and in our hands we will celebrate the splendour of Jerusalem, by our hands the peace will return to Jerusalem.”

Despite being silent and away from the cameras since her last appearance with President Macron, Fairuz became present in Macklemore’s Hind’s Hall.

The sampling of Fairuz’s song highlights her power in being able to speak for the region and transcend continents despite her absence.

While Fairuz’s presence on the track can merely be a coincidence, it came at a critical time when the West is more aware of the Palestinian cause in light of the genocide in Gaza.

Hind’s Hall resembles the shift in awareness about the Palestinian cause that has expanded from the Middle East to the West, making it clear that it is a humanitarian issue and not one that is confined to a religion or a region.

It also amplifies the calls for justice for little Hind, who the world watched slowly be killed on January 29 by Israel after she was left trapped in a car surrounded by her murdered relatives for 12 days.

Right now in Gaza, there are more than 15,000 other Hinds out of the nearly 35,000 people killed, and more than one million facing constant displacement by the settler-colonial Israeli regime.

Like the rest of the world, I only hope that the genocide ends and the next viral song that comes out is a celebration of a complete ceasefire in Gaza.

And, hopefully, Palestine’s liberation.

Asmahan Qarjouli is a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist based in Doha, Qatar. She reports on foreign affairs and culture in the MENA region and beyond. She often explores unique angles of cultural stories that merge history and politics, including Arab pop culture. Her interests include crisis and conflict reporting

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