Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Ghada Shoman: Singing to every ruin

Nadya Siyam | 13-05-2019

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In the small, troubled and besieged Gaza Strip, a voice of hope and beauty fights to overpower the mood of suffering.

Ghada Shoman, 24, has been singing for Palestine since 2012. She has performed in over a hundred events and once anchored a show of her own, where she was the main singer on stage. But in fact, she has loved singing ever since she was a kid.

“When I was 12, I discovered a beautiful song called Zekraiat Memories. I sang along to it wholeheartedly and passionately and didn’t want to stop!” Ghada recalls.

During primary and middle school, she lived in Saudi Arabia and sang with her school’s chorus in an annual show and other events. However, she was shy and feared singing in the presence of strangers. It was only with her family’s encouragement that Ghada overcame her inhibitions.

Then her younger brother Mohammed started taking guitar lessons, and in 2014 they began making music together.

“My voice became stronger and clearer when I sang with an instrument,” Ghada explains. Mohammed’s presence opened new doors for Ghada. “We live in a conservative society, so it was more acceptable for a girl to sing with her brother than by herself.”

Her fame began to build via Instagram and other social media platforms when she was invited to sing with Haifa Bseso. Haifa is a Palestinian “influencer” and blogger who travels the world. In 2015, Haifa chose Ghada to sing for Palestine in a livestreamed event held in Jerusalem.

“My family is originally from Jerusalem, a home I’ve never been to. There was sad irony in it…My voice made it home before my feet could,” she says.

Ghada wishes to someday represent Palestine in international concerts, but she fears the border, which most of the time is closed to Gazan travelers or, if you manage to cross, difficult to navigate back in. It’s the place where you too often say farewell to your past life or to your dreams.

After Haifa’s concert, Ghada continued to post covers of English and Arabic songs and receives positive feedback from people from all over the Middle East. In 2016, she was the main singer in a concert called Spacetoon Friends. Spacetoon is an old children’s TV channel that airs songs and cartoons. These days, when Spacetoon is mentioned, it evokes feelings of longing and nostalgia among children of the ‘90s.

“That was truly the best experience I had in my life. It was a way of reliving my childhood and its innocence. In addition, being alone on stage as the main singer made me feel powerful and confident. I wish I could do that again!” she recalls.

After that concert, Ghada attracted even more attention and local fame. It became overwhelming for her.

“The voices around me became so loud I couldn’t hear my own voice,” she explaines. “I didn’t want people to choose my path for me. I don’t want to sing for the sake of singing alone. I want my voice to mean something, to change and to inspire.”

She refused a lot of invitations and turned down recording companies’ offers and took a long break.

In 2018, she earned a degree in pharmacy and currently works in a medical firm. Recently, she started taking piano lessons and is gradually getting back to singing.

“The break was healthy for me. I was able to clear my head and focus on what I really want.”

Ghada sees Gazavision as a creative way to send a powerful message to the world.

“I want to sing to Palestine…to every village, to every home and to every ruin.”

Posted: May 12, 2019

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