Gaida Hinnawi

Gaida Hinnawi


"Syrian vocalist Gaida Hinnawi keeps one foot in the Arabic-music tradition, evoking the emotional storminess of legendary figures like Warda and Om Kalthoum. But her filigreed singing…suggests all manner of exotic new possibilities."--Time Out NY


Gaida Hinnawi is a vocalist and composer working at the intersection of the New York Arab and improvised music scenes. Her compositions draw at once on classical Arabic song, Syrian folk traditions, and free improvisations that expand on traditional Arabic maqams (modes) to produce an original and highly personal style marked by great emotional intensity. An acclaimed singer from an early age, Gaida was raised in Damascus and later lived in Kuwait, Paris, and Detroit, where she received classical voice training at Wayne State University. Now settled in New York, Gaida works with leading Arab and creative-music artists such as Amir ElSaffar, Brahim Fribgane, Tareq Abboushi, Omer Avital, and Rufus Cappadocia. She also is a member of other New York based groups including Ayyoub, Zikrayat, and Tarab Ensemble. Gaida has composed and recorded for major motion pictures, including Jonathan Demme's Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains, in which she recorded with Gillian Welsh and Alejandro Escovedo. Gaida also maintains a parallel career as a speech pathologist.

In her own words...
"Many Arabic songs express the pain generated from missing the loved ones who traveled or migrated leaving behind their homes, families, and memories. In addition, there is another genre of poetry that is created by the immigrants themselves, called Adab Elmahjar (Expatriate Literature), a genre which includes poems expressing longing for the homeland and constant homesickness in all its complexities.
My writing stems from the themes of love, longing, and caring. It is my wish for survival and strength for all facing this harsh period of time. It is my prayer for peace between my new homeland and first homeland, and that no one I love gets hurt- and I love all. It is about my love to all human beings and to the earth. These dilemmas of being far and helpless while one's mother, father, old friends are in danger is far more complicated than I can express in words. These feelings I can only express in my music and in my voice-the genuine reflection of my soul."


Salaam Min Dimashq

Written By: Gaida Hinnawi

(translated from Arabic)

Greetings from Damascus
Greetings from a loving heart
I send it to you (plural) with the wave of the ocean
Greetings to the people of peace
To the people of love and mercy
To who ever climbed the mountain of Qasiyoon (the mountain range in Damascus)
Or sat under the shade on the bank or the Barada River (the river in Damascus)
Greetings to my neighbors in Beirut
To my friends in the South (of Lebanon)
To the ones who owned my heart in Baghdad, Mosul, and Khartoum
Greeting to my children in Al-Quds (Jerusalem)
To every child who cried and still crying from pain or deprivation.
To those who pronounce the sound of "Dhad" (a letter that is unique to Arabic Language)
and smiled brightness despite the accumulation of dark
Greetings to my mother and father
I love you-I love you
Here I am between your arms
So take me to you take me to you

Ana Bint Arabiyya

Written By: Gaida Hinnawi

(translated from Arabic)

I'm an Arabic woman and I've loved you for a long time
I'm spontaneous and free and my heart is tender and full mercy...
Come with me and forget about the past see how life with me is magical
I'll never betray you, I'll protect you, and I'll give you my eyes (Arabic metaphor for endless giving)

In the Blue Haven of Your Eyes

Written By: poem by Nazar Qabbani

(translated from Arabic)

in the blue haven of your eyes
there are rains of light
dimmed stars and sails drawing their trip to the absolute
in the blue haven of your eyes
a sea window opens
and birds in the horizon wave looking for new islands
in the blue haven of your eyes
the snow falls in July
and the ships of emerald sank the sea and didn't sink
in the blue haven of your eyes
i ran like a child on the rocks
i smell the sea breeze and return like a weary bird
in the blue haven of your eyes
i dream about the sea and sailing
and grab millions of moons and catch necklaces of purls and lilies
in the blue haven of your eyes
the stones speak at night
in the closed book of your eyes some one hid thousands of poems
i wish…i wish…i was a sailor
i wish someone grant me a boat
i would sail every night to the blue haven of your eyes  


Debut CD, Hayat wu Hub ("love and life") to be released in September, '08

Set List

The group primarily performs original compositions, as well as classic Arabic songs of Fairouz, Umm Kulthum, and others, with a new twist.