NEW MEXICO, U.S. - 23 September 2018: Youssra el-Hawary and her band gave their fourth concert in the US at the Globalquerque annual music festival in New Mexico. The audience included dozens of kids who danced and enjoyed the rhythm.
Youssra’s band is on the go with the Center Stage program in a multi-state US tour as part of the Department of State’s cultural exchange programs.
Arriving in Albuquerque on September 20, Youssra and her band re-charged their energy to give exciting concerts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, which hosts the 4th New Mexican bvMusic Festival.
The Egyptian band shared the stage with Hispanic American band Ladama, a group of four women from different countries who like to be identified as sisters in song, rhythm and spirit.
Attending the show, children expressed their excitement about the Egyptian music played at the festival, with some speaking about their knowledge of Egypt’s hot summers, pharaoh mythologies and hieroglyphic language.
Children attending different concerts as part of a school field trip to Globalquerque festival - Photo by Nourhan Magdi
Armed with an accordion, Youssra seemed happy by the reactions she got to her music from festival attendees.
Before Albuquerque, the band stopped in the small town of Lyons, in Nebraska, where they performed a concert at a storefront theatre with a front facade folding down,
before it transforms into an outdoor theater.
Accordionist and singer Youssra has previously performed before foreign audiences in Europe, where they did not understand the Arabic but could relate to her global music. On her tour with Center Stage, Youssra said she is excited since this is her first time to experience perform before an American audience.
“I wish to give them an honest image of a woman my age living in Cairo, my thoughts, my dreams, what I like to change, and what I am experiencing daily in Cairo,” Youssra added.
“It was truly beautiful. I was very impressed by Youssra’s talent and personality, and that of the band. I have little experience listening to Egyptian music, however, after experiencing it firsthand, I think I'll research more artists of the genre,” said Corbin Wheaton, a resident of Lyons and an event coordinator.
Corbin Wheaton, a resident of Lyons and an event coordinator - Photo by Nourhan Magdi
Youssra el-Hawary's band performing at Storefront Theatre in Lyons, Nebraska - Photo by Nourhan Magdi
Corbin also added that he has received nothing but good comments from community members and curiosity of those who were not in attendance.
Jay Raman, the director of Cultural Programs Divisionat the U.S. State Department, attended the band’s concert in Lyons, told Egypt Today that participating bands will benefit from the program.
“First, they will get to perform for American audience in big cities and small towns…they come to the towns, and meet people and have the opportunity to interact
with them and have a new experience.” He also made remarks on Egypt’s debut participation in the US program, and the state of bilateral relations.
“We are very excited to feature Egypt at Center Stage…and I think it reflects the very rich culture that Egypt has that we want to share with American public, teaching them a little about what Egypt has to offer, and to also show Egyptian artists what is it like to perform in America,” said Raman.
“Our relationship with Egypt is based on a lot of shared interests, but those include culture exchange, the Egyptian tradition from antiquities to the present, from classical to modern, it’s very rich, compelling and very interesting.”
“Arts exchanges have been a part of the US State Department for almost 70 years, and they help in a variety of ways by creating a cultural dialogue between people,” said Raman.
Raman added, “We send bands, visual artists, films and television overseas so that foreign audiences can get a taste of US culture, and we can learn about their culture. It’s a two-way conversation; it is not just about the United States, it is a common culture that we all share.”
The fourth edition of the US-sponsored cultural-exchange program, Center Stage, marks the first Egyptian participation, with three music ensembles from Cairo set for one month-long individual tours across the US.
The public diplomacy initiative was launched by the US Department of State in 2012, bringing to American soil a range of 154 artists in 24 ensembles from nine different countries.
From Egypt, the bands participating in the fourth season include Dina el-Wedidi, Youssra el-Hawary and Karkade.
Both Dina and Youssra met in Washington D.C. in mid-September and gave a joint concert performance at a cozy night club called Tropicalia. They also performed at the prestigious venue of Kennedy Cultural Center, which is built as a live memorial for the late US president John F. Kennedy.
About Youssra el-Hawary
A mix of innovative original music in content and style, a charismatic charm and lithe composition paved songwriter and accordionist Youssra el-Hawary's way to fame.
Hawary first started with playing the accordion, and then she began singing about real-time events that influenced her. Hawary is visiting the US for the first time as part of her participation in Center Stage’s fourth season.
Her music was greatly inspired by the 2011 Revolution in Egypt. In 2012, she released her first hit single “El Soor” (The Wall), which was a satirical, political take on the Egyptian situation at the time.
Youssra el-Hawary performing at Globalquerque annual festival in New Mexico - Photo by Nourhan Magdi
A young girl dancing to the music at Globalquerque festival - Photo by Nourhan Magdi
A total of 400 children attending Globalquerque festival in New Mexico - Photo by Nourhan Magdi