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May 20 2022 8:08 PM ˚
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Dana Salah embraces Arab culture

Artist Dana Salah is pictured in this undated photo. (Photo: Handout from Dana Salah)
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AMMAN — Brushing aside stereotypical conflicts between tradition and modernity, Jordanian singer and songwriter Dana Salah creates songs filled with magnificent lyrics. Salah was born and raised in Jordan, but has spent most of her adult life in the United States.اضافة اعلان

The artist, who used to go by King Deco, started writing songs at the age of nine. “My dad used to take me to watch musical concerts,” she told Jordan News in an interview. 

Making Arabic music, according to the Salah, is also about empowering Arab musicians to embrace their culture rather than run away from it. Dana Salah's new name reflects an artist reclaiming her Arab identity and language. She hoped that by doing so, her music would allow for more space for Arab women to own their voices and convey their stories as artists.

“I began by creating songs for other artists and producers, and then I started to write lyrics for my own songs, which I released under the moniker, King Deco,” the musician said.

Under the name of King Deco, the artist released singles in English like, “Castaway (Don’t Leave Me),” “Read My Lips,” “Ocean,” and “Laila.” Her first song in Arabic and released under the name of Dana Salah was “Weino.”

In January 2021, the artist traveled back to Jordan to reconnect with her heritage and embrace her Arab identity. “I dug deep into that culture and discovered how, despite being thousands of miles away from home, Arabs in America clung to so many parts of Arab culture,” Salah said. “What unites Arab America is their belonging to their homeland.”

It was about staying true to herself and her belief in the universality of music that allowed the artist to reconcile her Arab identity with becoming a pop artist who sang in both English and Arabic, she said.

“I start with the music, then the melody, and finally the lyrics while creating a song, and I collaborated with producer Nasir Albashir to produce an Arabic song,” she said.

The artist has recently shifted the direction of her music, as evidenced by the release of her new single, “Weino,” in August. The song has garnered more than 500,000 views on YouTube so far.

The artist combined characteristics of Latin and Western music with Arabic tones. “I wanted to sing in my own voice and be able to convey my feelings through the lyrics,” Salah said.

For the “Weino” music video, Salah worked with Palestinian director Omar Rammal. The costumes in the video merged traditional Palestinian embroidery with modern fashion.

“Our Arab legacy is rich and enduring, and despite living in the US for many years, I wanted to show my journey and to express my Arab identity,” she said.

She added that she wants to use her songs to convey everything she has learned in the West in terms of singing, music, and songwriting.

“Latin beat and style are similar to Arabic,” Salah said. “I like to mix modern and traditional themes, as well as my Western influences with my Arab identity.”

Her next Arabic song will be released soon, but the artist plans to eventually create an album that merges eastern and western tones.

In conclusion, she said that the best approach to obtaining visibility and growing an audience is through social media, and that social media can support artists and open new doors.

“I got to know Nasir Albashir on social media, and we set up a 15-minute Zoom meeting, but he was playing some really fantastic music, and I ended up talking to him for an hour and a half,” Salah said.