MUSIC IS THE WEAPON In 2011 Ramy Essam exploded into international fame as the real voice of the Egyptian revolution. His songs spread like wildfire among the demonstrators, and during the height of the uprising Ramy performed in front of millions of people in the Tahrir Square. The songs became the soundtrack of a whole generation of young Egyptians´ struggle for a better future. His song ”Irhal”, in which he´s demanding the resignation of Mubarak, is referred to as the anthem of the revolution. Time Out Magazine later selected Irhal as the third most worldchanging song of all time (with John Lennon´s ”Imagine” #5 on the list). But fame came at a heavy price with torture, arrests and censorship to silence Ramy. His songs were banned and he was unable to perform public shows. Still, he came out even stronger and more determined to speak out against the oppression. ”In the revolution I was born again. The struggle became the purpose of my life.” In 2014 he was offered a safe haven residency in Malmö, Sweden. Once again having the chance to create and perform freely, he decided to use the opportunity to spread his message around the world. In 2016 Ramy returned to the international scene big time, with a string of singles releases that gained a lot of new audiences and attention. The single ”Segn Bel Alwan” (featuring Lebanese rapper Malikah), highlighting women´s situation and the issue of gender equality in his home country, became a big hit and one of the most streamed videos in Egypt in the weeks after its release. He toured extensively throughout the year in Sweden and internationally. He also debuted as an actor in the experimental theatre show ”Smash up - A rock documentary” in Malmö and Stockholm and toured throughout Finland with the new theatre monologue ”In the frontline” that was about his life story and activism. Both productions received great reviews. Many Swedes discovered him when he made a much celebrated performance on one of Sweden´s biggest tv shows ”På Spåret”. He remains to be one of the loudest voices for the young generation in Egypt and its struggle for a progressive and modern society, but has also become an international symbol of social activism and a beacon of uncommon bravery in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Today he truly is an artist and activist with a global perspective, with messages that are equally relevant in Egypt as the rest of the world. In 2011 he received the Freemuse Award, in 2016 he was titled ”IMC Music Rights Champion” by IMC (Unesco´s advisory body on matters of music) and in 2017 he received the prestigeous ”Spirit of Folk Award” at Folk Alliance International Conference. But as the live artist Ramy has always been, that´s where it all comes together. With a band of prominent Swedish and Egyptian musicians, the shows are rock n roll molotov cocktails in music and words that will probably be as close to a real revolution as most people will come. ”I saw Ramy Essam and he was breathtaking. I learned his backstory and it brought me to tears. Then I saw him live and was blown away by his power and passion and complete soul-driven delivery. Love, loved him! He's a force of nature.” -Lisa Schwartz, Festival Director, Philadelphia Folk Festival One of the biggest highlights of this year's Folk Alliance International Conference was discovering Ramy Essam. I caught the full band for his official performance that was both breathtaking and inspirational. His story of overcoming struggle and using music to protest oppression is extremely powerful. -Rhonda Lyne, Midwest Music Foundation



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