Dina el-Wedidi performing at Tropicalia Lounge in Washington, D.C. as part of her US tour with Center Stage program - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today Dina el-Wedidi performing at Tropicalia Lounge in Washington, D.C. as part of her US tour with Center Stage program - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today

Dina el-Wedidi on her U.S. tour: Music breaks down language barriers

Fri, Sep. 21, 2018
WASHINGTON – 21 September 2018: Dina el-Wedidi’s band is one of three Egyptians bands touring America from coast to coast this year, making Egypt’s debut participation in the U.S.-sponsored Center Stage program.

For one month, el-Wedidi’s band will be visiting big cities and small towns, offering the U.S. audience a delicate fusion of Egyptian music and global styles. Dina is in the U.S. with her 5-piece band, including: Bass guitarist Mounir Maher, Percussionist Azima Barhoma, Accordionist Wael el-Sayed, Drummer Mohammed Raafat and Sound Engineer Mafdy Thabet.

With U.S. audiences already captured by her unique singing at different venues, Dina spoke with Egypt Today about this exceptional experience and opportunities that such cultural exchange initiatives might be offering.

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Dina el-Wedidi performing at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of her US tour with Center Stage program - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today


Below is the interview with Dina el-Wedidi

ET: How is the Center Stage tour different for you?

Dina: This is the first long tour with my band, we had chances before to perform abroad but not as part of a tour. I am happy that we have this experience to visit different states across America for one month, and it is very remarkable that Center Stage brings musicians from different cultures to the United States.

Also, Center Stage program ensured that all participating band members were Egyptians, and I find this a plus to the program.

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Dina el-Wedidi performing at Tropicalia Lounge in Washington, D.C. as part of her US tour with Center Stage program - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today


ET: Is this your first time visiting the United States?

Dina: It’s my fourth time visiting the U.S. The first time for me was when I got a two-year scholarship with Gilberto Gil, the second was a tour with the Nile Project, where we got to visit more than 32 states in four months, and the third time was a short trip with my band for two weeks.

ET: What is the difference between the audience in Egypt and the audience in the United States?

Dina: In our first performance, we received audiences from Arab communities in the U.S., and they were very warm and made us feel at home. As for foreign audiences in general, they receive the songs differently since they cannot understand the language [we perform in] so they listen to the music, which is what they are attracted to. I am so excited to sing for both local and foreign audiences and it adds to my experience.

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Dina el-Wedidi and her band after their show at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of her US tour with Center Stage program - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today


ET: How do you think music can be the approaching point between peoples in Egypt and in the U.S.?

Dina: I see music as the best healer and treatment to problems and tensions between countries that would usually take up to several years to resolve. I believe that since there is no language for music, this solves a lot of barriers between people. We even touched on this after each performance, as we were surprised by many attendees coming to us to ask about how we played a certain track and they seemed excited about our music.



ET: How do you think this cultural exchange program will benefit you as a musician?

Dina: It is a very good opportunity for us as we still have a lot to offer to the American audience on the next stages of the tour, and many of the audience did not know much about the new generation of musicians in Egypt.

As part of the tour, we further take workshops, visit schools, and have Q&A sessions with the audience, which are beneficial to us.

Also, we do not usually get the chance to cooperate with foreign musicians, it happens only at workshops and travel fellowships, and requires great expertise.

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Dina el-Wedidi performing at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as part of her US tour with Center Stage program - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today

 
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