Toni Qattan on the evolution of Jordan’s music scene

Singer-songwriter Toni Qattan poses for a photo on July 7, 2020. The musician recently spoke with Jordan News about the industry in Jordan, and how COVID-19 and Palestine are affecting artists. (Photo: Handout from Toni Qattan)
AMMAN — Popular Jordanian singer-songwriter Toni Qattan has studied music since he was a child. But support was hard to come by and his career was momentarily sidelined, while he studied engineering and then business administration in Jordan.اضافة اعلان

Qattan started writing his own songs and music when he was 18 years old. “It slowed my college graduation since I was traveling a lot, trying to manage both school and music,” he told Jordan News in an interview.  

Qattan started university in 2003. In 2004, he wrote his first song, but it wasn’t until 2005 that his music career began to take off. He produced two successful songs that year. The first was called “Men Dounek” (meaning “without you”), and the second was called “Eyouni Sehrani” (“My eyes are awake”). The songs were written in Jordan and then recorded and filmed in Lebanon. He traveled between Lebanon and Jordan producing music. 

“When it was my generation, there wasn’t an industry for music in Jordan,” the singer-songwriter said. “But after 17 years of setting the stage for future music artists, I was one of the first to start making songs and to film them.”

According to Qattan, there has been a shift in how Jordanian society responds to young artists. “Since we were kids, we were told to either be a doctor or an engineer, but with new generations it’s becoming more and more flexible,” he said. “Many people that have graduated college don’t find jobs and they start looking for new things to do, new careers to start.”

“I joined the art of music because I love it and it has been a part of me since I was a child. It never was a spontaneous act,” Qattan said. “I think it’s just the Jordanian culture isn’t used to seeing their kids work as a musician.”

He described his own experiences of being judged or underestimated because of his career. “I still meet a lot of people now that always ask me ‘so you just sing — that’s it?’ They judge me for just being a musician with no other job.” 

“It’s mostly our Jordanian culture that doesn’t accept music artists. As Jordanians, we like things that are manageable or tangible, but music isn’t either of these things so it’s hard to accept that sometimes.”

Like many other artists and musicians, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted Qattan’s career. “Even if we all did online concerts it still wouldn’t be enough,” he said. “I personally have other platforms where I gain my revenue or income. I have done advertisements and online performance and I do have my own studio.”

Qattan also spoke to the growing influence of social media around the world and its effects on the Palestinian occupation. “It’s a good way to spread awareness, especially for Palestine,” he said. “The famous people on social media, whether they are artists or not, we want everyone to spread the truth about what’s happening with the Palestinian occupation.”

He added that he is currently working on a new song “regarding Palestine in this rough time” that explains the situation.

“I would say to young Jordanians that even if you are a new or an old musician in Jordan, you should have the confidence that can give you the best success. They used to tell you there are no artists in Jordan but no, there are plenty of musicians and actors and editors and producers,” he said.

“We as an Arabian culture have grown so much after 17 years. If you are a musician, go for it and stay confident with your work and if you are not a musician or an artist, start supporting Jordanian musicians and artists.”

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