Articles & Media

Kamilya Jubran: Seriously artistic

By Diala Khasawneh
Jordan Times-Features
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

AMMAN - Kamilya walked into the unsettled silence, burdened with anticipation, she walked past the audience, she moved in a bubble of her own, separate and complete.

She walked through the darkness; you could hear her voice, crystal clear, the crown of her white hair like icy fire, the sparkle of her playful eyes and the whiteness of her teeth as she whispered her song into the limitless night.

I watched her, move, slide, flow. I wanted to hold her in my eyes, the magic was overwhelming, if I let go of her, the spell would break.

Thoughts stretch taut at


Desire is a light

That sparkles in the eye.

I am a mad song.

Like an echo, I fly.

~Safar (Journey), from the album Wameedd 2005

Text: Salman Masalha.

Translation to English: Vivian Eden and the poet

Then she stood in front of us and that is when it all began. It was a trip through self expression. Self expression, so bare and honest, it was almost aggressive.

Kamilya's performance, for it was beyond singing and beyond music, her performance toyed with propriety.

She was so herself that it made me nervous. She left all social rules of conduct at the door and walked on stage. She did sad and happy, sexy and broken, vulgar and noble, pretty and ugly, she refused social grace and let herself free and rode the crude wave of the true.

Kamilya sat on a chair on the small platform in the centre of Al Balad Theatre main hall. With her oud hugged tight, played fondly, they performed pieces from her latest album `Wameedd.'

Teasingly alluring, shawl dropped on the floor, skin tight see-through black top, and deep red lipstick, she allowed us into the private space of her sensual act.

From the focused attention and deep concentration, the audience admitted indulgence

Kamilya is famous, a star. She comes from a family of musicians and first sang on stage at the age of four.

For a decade, dedicated fans listened to her voice through Sabreen singing for Palestine, a voice for freedom, struggle and love.

It was further struggle when Kamilya faced her fans with a different song. A song outside the classical fighter's - a fighter's song still, but one that moved on to alternative battles. A song that spoke of life as the realistic, the mundane, the brutal, and the lovely-one that is on the other side of the romantic. A song that touches on the details of people's lives, their longing and loneliness, their labour and relationships.

I saw her, Kamilya when she seemed to have packed her clothes in a small suitcase and crossed the bridge to follow her voice.

Her voice wanted to fly outside the comfortable ribcage of home. And Kamilya did what courageous artists do, they follow their calling. She has been travelling, experimenting, venturing, making and remaking music.

Kamilya followed her calling full force. She embraced the fresh start. While her counterparts were settled in the paths of their lives, more or less designed, she chose to tread a path uncommonly travelled.

Armed with her voice and a fine skill to play the oud, she sincerely embarked on her new life. This move which included displacement, homelessness and distance from that which was familiar and easy also offered the excitement of unbounded discoveries and unrestricted potential.

Whenever I am scared of new beginnings, or anxious about unfamiliar grounds, whether in love or friendship, work or geography I think of Kamilya and a number of other women. They, at different stages in their lives, have burned the bridges of comfort and went off towards further living, more intense. They have accepted the losses but celebrated the gains. These women are my heroes.

Her voice fills the theatre, the city, the night. At moments I wanted to laugh with her. At times, I could not breathe in fear something will break. Often I held back my tears, my throat hurting and refused to blink so as not to miss any slight thing.

It was good. The performance was very good. New, wild, daring, creative, smart, seriously artistic like Kamilya.