Introducing #HumansofShubbak: our new mini interview series delving into the lives of the artists and organisers behind this year's Shubbak Festival. The first interview of the series comes from Lebanese artist and singer-songwriter Tania Saleh.

Tania Saleh – Lebanese artist & singer-songwriter

Tania Saleh

“I was always into music. I used to feel euphoric every time I listened to music that I liked. A good song resonated with me. It affected me so much, in a way that didn’t feel normal.

The first ever song I wrote and performed was a jingle for a cooking oil brand. It was the war and I was 17. I approached some guys at a studio and said, ‘you know, the next time you need a jingle I could propose words and music for free.’

There is this perception that if you’re an artist you’re probably not intelligent enough to study science. And to be a woman and an artist? That’s even worse. I am from a place that is not used to female songwriters. It’s a male dominated society. I was working with one of the best musicians in the Arab world. He was a mentor and I was inspired by him, but I didn’t feel like I could write songs whilst he was around. He was dominating the scene and I was afraid that people would compare me to him. It took a lot of time but the perception is different now. There's a lot more respect. I'm appreciated and needed. And that's very important, because people need to know how women feel.

But we’re still in a very bad situation because of extremism, because of the misinterpretation of religion, because of the political systems that are opposing progress. But I know that my songs have inspired a lot of women, and the most important thing to me is that women know that, yes, they can change, yes, it’s OK to be strong, yes, they can be independent, yes, they can say whatever is on their mind.

My responsibility is to talk to women as free souls. As persons who are free to feel whatever they want. In my region, I can’t see any progress without the emancipation of women.”

Tania Saleh

See Tania Saleh at Shubbak 2019

Tania will feature in a special tribute concert for the late singer, composer and activist Rim Banna at the Barbican Centre on 9 July, as part of Shubbak 2019.
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Produced by the Barbican Centre in association with MARSM UK. Presented with additional support from A.M. Qattan Foundation and Drosos Foundation.