Another Story About How Music is Being Used for Good in the Syrian Civil War

At one time, life in Syria was relatively normal.  The government wasn’t dropping barrels full of petrol and nails on its people and there weren’t al-Qaeda-sponsored insurgents making life miserable for everyone else. This is just the kind of place that Vice would visit.

Rabia was the drummer for a Damascene band called Ana, which is the Arabic word for “I.” He was one of five members who dreamed about making an album that mixed Arabic rhythms with post-rock instrumentals.  Yet as civil unrest spread throughout Syria, the band’s aspirations faded away.As the mood of Damascus changed and the music scene diminished, Rabia became more active in demonstrations against the regime.  But on May 25, 2012, someone followed him home. He was found dead at the age of 31, with a bullet in his neck inside his sister’s car the next day.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” said Anas, a 25-year-old Syrian songwriter and former vocalist for Ana. “Rabia’s death broke our spirits.”

With the band parting due to the incident, after being together for four years, Anas took a break from music to focus on his work at a radio station. But strict state control on media content pushed him to resign three months after Rabia’s death. Confining himself to his basement in Damascus, Anas began producing music again.

With more than 145,000 people dead and 2.7 million Syrians displaced since the beginning of the crisis, music has, like many aspects of life, become an instrument of resistance and war. But while artists from all circles propagate support for the regime or opposition, Anas has endorsed a more constructive message.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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