Heartbeat Jerusalem is the organization I am working with here in Israel. Heartbeat was founded in 2007 under a grant from Fulbright and MTV. We're working to empower Israeli & Palestinian youth through a collaborative musical experience. Most importantly Heartbeat provides a safe space and opportunity for a musical dialogue to begin and grow. Check out the documentary:
On Tuesday, February 22 Heartbeat Jerusalem hosted an Open House - Open Mic event. I had had a few meetings with the directors, but this was my first integrated event with the group and didn't know what exactly to expect.
Independently I have been meeting and connecting with several young Palestinian and Israeli artists, so I reached out to Ihnaminhon (the hip-hop group from East Jerusalem/Palestine) and invited them to come participate. The event was taking place at the Willy Brandt Center, a multi-cultural center in the Abu Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem and it was a little tricky getting Mustafa and Naser over there. My Arabic is useless in regards to giving directions, and communicating with English over the phone was onerous. Eventually they found their way...
As I did not know what to expect, neither did they. Mustafa and Naser arrived smoking cigarettes in the building which is a no go; they were riled up and ready to go. At first, the vibe was tense, and Tomer, one of the Heartbeat coordinators and I tried to get things rolling with a collaborative improvised jam. It was a mixed group with David on guitar, Tamer on bass, Frima and Ami on percussion, Guy on keyboards/samples, Mustafa and Naser on the mics, and myself on drums. Most of the group was listening and working together, but Mustafa was heavy on the mic, making himself very present. After the jam, we had a discussion about where we are all coming from and we gave a presentation about Heartbeat and opportunity. After a while, Mustafa and Naser warmed up and were respectful. We passed the mic around the room and gave each person a chance to share.
In this song Mustafa takes a stab at the Palestinian and Israeli men who just sit and watch the turmoil in the Gaza Strip. He sings to empower the women to speak up and let their voices be heard for change.
In this clip Guy discusses the meaning of his song he had just performed. He confronts the common misconception of who the main character is and points out how both Israeli and Palestinian kids identify with the subject.
Lastly enjoy this beautiful piece performed by Bassel on the Qanun accompanied by Tamer on the derbekkeh. Bassel joined us in the beginning for an audition for the Heartbeat band and he will be joining us for the recording/writing retreat we have planned for the end of March in the Negev Desert.