Bidding a melodic dream farewell

Reflections on Amman’s musical landscape

Mamdouh al Qaruoty
Kristin Hagegård. (Photo: Mamdouh Al-Qaruoty)
As a Swedish singer in Jordan, I have wanted to offer Nordic stories and songs so captivating that people forget about their everyday lives, even if just for a few moments. And after five years in the music scene in Jordan, the time has come for me to leave it behind, and I do so in deep awe of everything that this country has offered. اضافة اعلان

Having lived and worked in its music industry, I know that Amman’s scene has deep flaws. But I have also seen that Amman has opportunities so great they are almost unheard of in the capitals of Europe.

In one sense, my experience in this country is a perfect illustration of the scene. My own “Nordic Music Project” went much further, much faster than I could have ever imagined. Together with master guitarist Khaled Tawfiq and others, I was blessed to perform once in Amman Jazz Festival, twice at the Jerash festival, in TV programs and in concerts for esteemed guests like the Minister of Culture and members of the Royal family.

Most importantly, I connected with an audience that appreciated our work. The audience was able to immerse in the experience and forget their struggles briefly.

Amman felt like one dream after another coming true, and when that happens it can make you quite dizzy. But the story was not all rosy.

The first thing to know about the alternative music scene in Jordan is that it is very small, concentrated in Amman and it depends a handful of artists and producers. In Swedish we would call them eldsjälar, loosely translated to “souls on fire”. These full-time, professional artists support one another, constantly borrowing and lending equipment, offering studio time for free, and even playing for free so that their friends can have their concerts.
In the long run, I believe that the flames of our eldsjälar — those souls on fire — must be nurtured to be kept alive.
But because the support to professionals is unpredictable and insufficient, it is still extremely difficult to make ends meet. What does this mean? It means that the audience could be missing out on the best and most interesting work of artists stuck in commercial mediocracy that pays the bills, rather than creating sounds that are truly interesting. In the long run, I believe that the flames of our eldsjälar — those souls on fire — must be nurtured to be kept alive.

The fact that the scene is small it not all bad, however. It also means that the opportunities for new artists are almost limitless. This, I believe, is one of Jordan’s great opportunities, not only in music but in other art forms too. If you think about it, how many celebrities does Jordan have? Very few, sah?

The country is lacking musicians in general and is literally waiting for the next big star! Any musician devoted to their craft can enter the scene quickly — as I was blessed enough to experience. Young, aspiring musicians take note.

(Photo: Omair Ali Tabikh) 

As this journey came to a close with a farewell concert this past week, my gratitude stretch to the moon and back for a music community that deserves the best, and for an audience who came to hear our songs of elves, trolls, and love stories from the seven seas. Alwadae ya ‘urduna aljamila, until we meet again.

Kristin Hagegård is a Swedish singer, who has performed in Jordan over the last five years. 

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