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Thursday, October 23, 2008 

Sound of the Resistance - Julia Boutrous in Damascus

The Damascus Citadel was built to defend the city. Last night, it played host to a woman singing the praises of those who fought to defend Lebanon.

Julia Boutrous was in town for one of the biggest concerts of the year. And she was given the honour of being one of the first people to sing in the Citadel.

The historic building has been closed for years, while foreign archeologists dug away. But this year, it's been opened up to the public for a few precious nights. Julia Boutrous's concerts mark the end of this year's Citadel events.

Getting thousands of people in to such an historic place, installing sound and light systems, a stage and chairs, could all have caused a huge amount of damage. But, thankfully, it was done in a tasteful, delicate way.

Boutrous is known across the Arab World as a nationalistic singer, hitting the headlines in the 1980s when her songs became national anthems for occupied southern Lebanon. So when she came on stage last night, the first thing she did was thank the Syrian nation, and the Syrian resistance.

She was backed by a full orchestra and conductor. Standing in a long black dress, the forty year old rarely moved from behind her microphone stand. At the end of each song, the lights went up, and some fans waved flags at her - the Lebanese flag, and the SSNP flag (one of the Lebanese opposition parties, allied with Hizbollah).

After two hours of non-stop crowd-pleasing, Boutrous ended with a new song - a sweet love song, in stark contrast to the rest of the evening. The crowd went silent for the first time as she sung Khalas, Intihayna (Enough, We're Finished). And with that, she finished.

Except that the crowd were having none of it. To chants of 'Julia, Julia', she made her way back on to the stage. But one encore wasn't enough. She came back an amazing FOUR times to give her fans what they wanted.

The last time, the lights had already gone down and the band was packing up. Boutrous walked to the front of the stage and joked with the crowd, "We're going to be here until the morning at this rate," she said, laughing. The crowd reacted with a cheer - most of them would have had no problem listening to her until dawn.

With no band, Boutrous told the crowd it would be "just you and me". She sang a capella. And what did she choose - the song which made her famous, Shams Al Haqq, released in 1980, during the Israeli Occupation of southern Lebanon.

where are the photos?
u made my heart aches

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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