Front Row

Yasmine Hamdan: globalFEST 2014

Hear Excerpts From Yasmine Hamdan Live At globalFEST 2014

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Lebanese singer-songwriter Yasmine Hamdan is an eminently cool addition to the indie-pop landscape. She was the co-founder of the groundbreaking duo Soapkills, which might have been the very first electronic band in postwar Beirut. Now a solo artist and based in Europe after a childhood split between Lebanon, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Greece, Hamdan blends new material with reworked traditional songs in a smoky-cool electro-pop setting.

Her choice to sing exclusively in Arabic isn't a parochial one: Instead, it's a statement that's both intensely personal and in some ways political, a way of declaring who she is and where she comes from. (She says she's turned down many international recording offers that stipulated she perform in English.) In her sets, she indulges in some regional code-switching, moving deftly between Arabic dialects. But whether or not you hear those differences in her singing, you'll instantly understand why she's attracted the attention of tastemakers from French Vogue magazine to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who enlisted her to appear as herself in his upcoming film Only Lovers Left Alive.

Set List
  • "Deny"
  • "IRSS"
  • "Galbi"
  • "Medxa"
  • "Suleina"
  • "Beirut"
  • "Ya Nass"
  • "Azza"

Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Anastasia Tsioulcas; Videographers: Olivia Merrion, A.J. Wilhelm; Editor: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Event Coordinator: Saidah Blount; Special Thanks: globalFEST, Webster Hall; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann.

[+] read more[-] less

More From World

Tiny Desk Concert with Sam Lee Lydia Thompson /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lydia Thompson /NPR

Tiny Desk

Sam Lee

The singer found his voice by finding and preserving old British, Irish and Scottish folk songs.

Maggie Starbard/NPR

Tiny Desk


A star in his native Portugal, Camané evokes melancholy with a silky baritone and elegant phrasing.

Colin Marshall /NPR

Tiny Desk


The Ukrainian acoustic quartet's music encompasses sounds and rhythms from around the world.

Stromae proved to the audience at Stubb's in Austin why he's a major star just about everywhere but the U.S. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

SXSW Music Festival

Stromae, Live In Concert: SXSW 2015

Watch the international superstar perform for a legion of rhapsodic fans at our SXSW showcase.

Colin Marshall/NPR

Tiny Desk

Bio Ritmo

The 10-piece salsa band built its career on dance floors, where it never fails to make people move.

Rodrigo Amarante performs a Tiny Desk Concert. Sarah Tilotta/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Sarah Tilotta/NPR

Tiny Desk

Rodrigo Amarante

A veteran of Little Joy and Los Hermanos, Amarante makes warm, tender music as a solo artist.

Yasmine Hamdan performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in April 2014. Jim Tuttle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jim Tuttle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Yasmine Hamdan

The Lebanese singer-songwriter is one of the most groundbreaking musicians in the Middle East.

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor