2016 saw the release of my second album Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle, almost exactly ten years after the issue of my first Sprinting Gazelle: Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora. Both albums represented the fruit of much hard work over many years, and I am proud of them, as statements of cultural identity and artistic expression.
For those wondering whether they will have to wait until 2026 for the next album, I sincerely hope not. In this regard, I just spent a fortnight in a studio in Cairo, recording Egyptian musicians on 4 tracks for my on-going project on the Egyptian composer Sayyid Darwish. I still need to track other musicians in Cairo, as well as to record several of the most challenging pieces for this album. For all the progress, there remains much work to do, editing and mixing, finalising the sleeve notes and designing the album, and we still need significant funding to complete the project.
At the same time, Bruno Heinen and I have been working on a duo album: 5 of his songs and 5 of mine. Some of the songs already form part of our repertoire together. It will be a mix of conventional and experimental Jazz.
Those of you who attended my concerts in the autumn of this year will also have noticed the addition to my repertoire of some Kuwaiti folkloric classics from my childhood, as well as a number of new Palestinian songs.
The new world of the internet and file sharing has largely suffocated the economics of music production. With the royalty payment for each play of a track on e.g. Spotify being a fraction of 1p, investors are few and far between. This notwithstanding, I have felt hugely liberated by the use of crowd funding techniques, such as Kickstarter offers.
The affirmation of grass roots support represented by the large number of pledgers who committed to support the final production of my live album, was heart warming; it also safeguarded my independence and allowed me to make the album as I wanted. I remain forever grateful to all those who gave money in support.
Lastly, I want to mention my eternal gratitude to the great Leon Rosselson. Aside from his many artistic achievements (the sharpest lyricist in the West), he has done and continues to do so much to get my music to a wider audience.