Love & Vengeance
This is a video from South Hill Arts, Bracknell during the last tour, thanks to Tom Povey and Kerstin Maier for the camera work. The song ‘Love & Vengeance’ is from the latest album ‘Between The Golden Age & The Promised Land’ and is about the Druze princess Asmahan.
Asmahan was a beautiful woman, a great singer and actress. She lived and died in difficult times, always searching for some kind of freedom that was denied her. Asmahan was a princess of the Druze people and grew up in Beirut. During World War II she became a famous star and spent her time between Cairo and Jerusalem. Jerusalem at that time was the eye of the storm, filled with spies of all nations and with a promise of a promised land … for some.
In 1941 Asmahan was involved with British intelligence in their preparation for the attack on French forces in Lebanon and Syria. Things did not go according to plan and there were accusations of betrayal on all sides. ‘Betrayal’ as journalist Robert Fisk notes, is a word that comes up frequently in the history of the Middle East.
Through this complex and dangerous world Asmahan tried to lead an independent life, using her singing talent, her intelligence and her beauty, bewitching all she met with her light green eyes and incredible presence. She also carried in her handbag some gold coins and a small automatic pistol. A British General who met her at the King David’s Hotel in Jerusalem said ‘she bowled over every British officer with the speed and accuracy of a machine gun’. Asmahan died when her chauffeur drove her car into a canal by the River Nile. But she lives on in people’s hearts. She represents a kind of golden age and is still one of the most loved singers in the Arab language.
Asmahan is gone but thanks to the power of recorded sound and film, a part of her lives on. Furthermore, those qualities of courage, independence, intelligence and artistic talent live on in others to whom she remains an inspiration.
See Wikipedia biography https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asmahan , the book ‘Asmahan’s Secrets’ by Sherifa Zuhur and the fascinating documentary ‘The Unbearable Presence of Asmahan’ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3524832/?ref_=rvi_tt