Egyptian singer-songwriter Ramy Essam played an electric show at National Sawdust on January 25th , part of a multimedia tour called “Tahrir and Beyond" commemorating the ninth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution. Essam was joined by the street artist Ganzeer; both gained notoriety during the 2011 Arab Spring for their musical and artistic interventions in the streets of Cairo. Ramy and Ganzeer now live in exile, but their commitment to justice in Egypt has now risen to global prominence. Case in point: Essam’s song “Irhal” was selected as Time Out’s third most world-changing song of all time.
After Ganzeer presented a slide show of his work and a historical overview of the Revolution, Essam took the stage with a classic four piece rock ensemble. The curly-haired rocker brought his 90’s grunge aesthetic to life with songs that addressed everything from the freeing of political prisoners to celebrating the spirit of the revolution. Despite the ultimate suppression of the uprising between 2011 and 2013, Essam and Ganzeer sought to bring the fervor of that moment in history into the present, refusing to forget the spark of hope they helped to build through their art.