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Soumaya Baalbaki


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Re Soumaya Baalbaki’s album “Arabtango*” (by Francisco Vázquez):

In one sentence, Arabtango shows that the Latin American lovers’ expressive sadness (of which tango is the utmost accomplishment) goes along well with Arabic, a language that has at least 3 different words for the expression “passionate love”. In Arabtango, Soumaya Ba’albaki adapts classic Arabic tango songs like اطلب عيني, giving them new life and making it available for the new generations.

Every melody combines Soumaya’s tearing voice with an unconventional mix of “sad” music played in “happy” tones. The final result is not necessarily tango, but it is really good. In other words, if you think that Andrés Calamaro perverted and destroyed tango in “Tinta Roja”, do yourself a favor and refrain from listening Arabtango.

Soumaya Ba’albaki speaks in the Lebanese dialect, which means that she does not pronounce some letters, not to mention that she does not care about the grammatical rules. In fact, the cd includes a curious explanation about why she decided to use her country’s dialect instead of the formal standard Arabic. The explanation has to do with the need to express her feelings in a common language, which goes with the Latin American spirit of tango.

Some non-Arabic speakers who have listened to the cd have found it expressive, powerful and passionate despite the language barrier.


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