Nizar Al-Issa is a Palestinian singer and virtuoso ‘Oud (Arabic lute) player.
His voice exhibits an extraordinary range and control. He draws on traditional middle eastern music but is not afraid to upset the purists by mixing things up a little – a habit he puts down to his refugee background. He has recently collaborated with jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon and his performances have taken him around the world. His roots are in Ramallah but in his influences and attitudes he crosses borders.
“Iraqis ask me if I’m from Iraq, while the Egyptians are convinced I am from Cairo, and in Spain they’re sure that I’ve spent time learning gypsy Flamenco… but the heart and soul of my music is the knowledge that we all share far more in common as human beings than we acknowledge, wherever we come from.”
Nizar is an artist who likes to keep his ears open. “From a really early age I was listening to the sounds all around me – from the great Arabic singers to the local guys at weddings and parties, even the fishermen and farmers…everything I heard went in somewhere!”