Throughout Halawella (Mostakell, September 17th, 2015) Maryam Saleh and Zeid Hamdan do not only attempt to break away from the standard mold, but they also play a rough manipulation of common sarcasm. Maryam, with her sharp, bold voice, gives new life to the songs surpassing the meaning behind the lyrics and creating an ironic paradox that pulls the listeners in and forces them try to decipher the direct meaning and what is hidden behind it. Zeid leaves no room for predictable compositions. He delves into musical heritage and presents a surprising modern interpretation, illuminating colors and groove.
In late 2010, the political and social turbulence in Egypt resulted in the rise of the underground music scene much stronger than before. Maryam Saleh has been at the heart of this rebellious trend when she met Lebanese artist Zeid Hamdan in Alexandria during one of his music tours.
The following year, they performed together under the new title of Maryam Saleh & Zeid Hamdan in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, and since then toured the rest of the Arab World. They performed new songs written specially for the project, and others written & sung previously by Maryam and have been revamped by Hamdan adding a new, exciting, and unusual atmosphere to them.
The duo became a huge success in their live performances attracting diverse audiences in the region, and in parallel they performed in London, Rome, Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, Marseilles, among other European cities. On stage, Maryam sings and plays the guitar, while Hamdan sometimes uses his complex electronic equipment and Guitalele (a small guitar similar to ukulele), with fellow performers on bass, guitar, and drums.
Halawella (Mostakell 2015) includes 10 songs; half of which are inspired by the oeuvre of the salient duo Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Fouad Negm; pioneers of the sarcastic political music genre in the 1970's. Their folkloric songs were characterized by a sense of sarcasm. Maryam Saleh has been doing covers for their songs since 2005 and the atmosphere of the revolution has helped re-introduce these songs to the audience during the past four years. In Halawella, Maryam brilliantly performs the songs in an interpretive manner where her voice is mixed with Zeid's electronic, trip, hip-hop, and new age music.
With its strong political content, the album is being released amidst an obvious recession of the revolutionary atmosphere in Egypt. However, on their most recent tours, Maryam Saleh and Zeid Hamdan have been very heartily-received by the audience, especially their covers for Sheikh Imam, not because it brings back folkloric heritage or a lost revolution, but simply because it is still capable of surprising the audience and making them indulge in deep thoughts and emotions, and this is what makes this album release an exceptional occasion.