UAE singer, Arqam Al Abri, passes 1 million views with World Music Day song

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Arqam Al Abri
Arqam Al Abri

Emirati musician part of global anthem, Together Let Go, collaboration

By David Light

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Published: Tue 7 Jul 2020, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Wed 29 Jul 2020, 11:57 AM

As German poet Heinrich Heine once wrote: "Where words leave off, music begins." Given this unprecedented time of upheaval has consistently rendered most of us speechless, Sisters Grimm productions - founded by former Royal Ballet ballerina Pietra Mello-Pittman and Grammy-nominated composer Ella Spira - decided to lead the re-energising melodic charge by releasing a pan-global anthem Together Let Go for World Music Day. The enormous effort looked to take talents from the UAE - songwriter DB Gad wrote the Arabic lyrics, which were vocalised by Madyan Hamza and Emirati singer Arqam Al Abri - and place them alongside international artists across five continents such as South Africa's Joseph Shabalala, Brazil's Dito Martins and Siori Tanabe from Japan and have them record a tune in honour of unity. Over one million YouTube views later, the project has paid off.
"This is a song that looks at togetherness. It's extremely positive," Emirati soul singer Arqam Al Abri told us about his involvement with the project. Posting most of his work on social media, it was an admiring former work colleague who not only liked his output, but also set him up with Sisters Grimm who specialise in creating culturally diverse musical theatre.

"If you look at the UAE it is a hotspot for different people," Al Abri continued. "I think Together Let Go is a soundtrack for the world but it is also a soundtrack for the country. We have people from everywhere and it's a great way for us to express ourselves.
"With what's happening with Covid and the different conflicts right now, having music that allows us to celebrate working together is the positive we need. We always need it."

The video laid over Together Let Go's stirring lyrics was put together by the UAE's Shantanu Suri. In it a red paper bird flies over various landscapes beginning with Dubai's Burj Khalifa and the county's desert dunes before soaring off around the world.
"It's unusual to have Arabic in an international song," Al Abri said of the composition. "The reason most songs don't have Arabic on them is because most people don't understand it, but having Arabic out there is a good way to introduce people to our dialect. I think people are very surprised how beautiful it is when it is put to music."
The vocalist who credits Motown's Marvin Gaye as a major influence said he had taken to listening to Khaleeji music to nail down a more local sound. It is this intonation now being listened to by millions.

What's coming up?
During our conversation, Sisters Grimm's Ella Spira told us she and her partner are working with Al Abri to create a homegrown UAE musical celebrating pan-Arabic language and culture. The piece is looking to go live in 2021. 

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