DUBAI: If you’re looking to add something new to your playlist, Palestinian-Jordanian singer Dana Salah’s fusion of Arabic, Latin and Western music might be just the thing for you.
Streaming service Spotify announced last month that pop-indie artist Salah, formerly known as King Deco, is the second ambassador for EQUAL Arabia, a company that aims to amplify the work of creative women in their lives. giving international recognition.
As part of Spotify’s campaign, the Amman-based artist, who lived in the United States for seven years, was featured on a billboard in the heart of Times Square in New York.
The singer told Arab News that upon seeing her photo, there was a “pinching” moment.
“It’s amazing that it’s there because I was doing something I believe in — music that matches who I am and my heritage,” she said.
“To see myself on arguably one of the biggest stages in the world and to have accomplished this by making music in Arabic and expressing myself through my culture is an incredible feeling. I didn’t have to compromise on who I am or where I’m from to be there.
Salah, who started her career writing music and DJing, said she received a lot of support from her community. “It was so heartfelt to see so many people posting about this achievement and celebrating it as a victory for the Jordanian arts community,” she said.
And the campaign seems to be working, with Salah explaining that his audience is already growing across the world.
She recalled a comment she read online from a new listener who said, “I’m from Indonesia and I found you on Spotify and I like your voice.”
“It meant the world,” Salah said.
Salah believes that music is universal and she hopes her music not only introduces audiences to Arab culture, but also brings other cultures together.
“That’s what I did with ‘Weino’. I mixed traditional Arabic instrumentation with Latin-like backbeat and Western song structures. I think there’s something very beautiful about mixing genres,” she said.
“I’m obsessed with taking two contrasting elements and making them coexist in the same space. I live for it when it comes to art but also on a daily basis – sit me down with the most diverse group of people and I’m happy,” she said.
Her early influences were also varied, with her mother and aunt introducing her to a series of musical films before she could even speak.
“They were always putting on ‘The Sound of Music’ and I was so excited because I just wanted to hear the songs, especially the song ‘Yodeling’, and I was humming to it,” she told Arab News. “It wasn’t until I was maybe four or five that I discovered my love for singing watching ‘The Little Mermaid’.”
As for his current playlist, the artist said, “I love Stevie Nicks and Max Martin as songwriters. I love Lana Del Ray and Kanye West when it comes to aesthetics and creating worlds and visuals around their music. I love the instrumentation of songs by Warda and Umm Kulthum,” she said.
Most central to Salah’s identity as an Arab woman is her unwavering appreciation of the timelessness of Arab art, from seeking inspiration from Algerian singer Warda to using strings, tablas ( twin hand drums) and riqs (the Middle Eastern tambourine) by veteran Egyptian singer Umm “Alf Layla w Layla” from Kulthum.
Her visuals are just as important to her as an artist. She pays homage to the Arab world by using its landscapes, architecture, cultural elements and fashion to rekindle the love of Arab heritage in her videos and covers.