Ramy Essam is an Egyptian musician best known for his appearances in Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Ramy was born in 1987 in Mansoura, Egypt. Ramy is one of the few singers in Middle East to sing hard rock.
In 2011 Ramy exploded into international fame as the real voice of the Egyptian revolution. His songs spread like wildfire among the demonstrators, and during the height of the uprising Ramy performed in front of millions of people in the Tahrir Square. His song Irhal, in which then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was urged to resign, gained great popularity among the demonstrators. It became internationally known through YouTube, and is referred to as the anthem of the revolution. In 2011, it was selected by Time Out as the third-most world-changing song of all time.
Fame came at a heavy price with torture, arrests and censorship to silence Ramy. His songs were banned and he was unable to perform public shows. Still, he came out even stronger and more determined to speak out against the oppression. Since late 2014, Ramy has been living in Sweden and Finland, which gave him again the chance to create and perform freely and he started to use the opportunity to spread his message around the world as an ambassador of the Egyptian revolution.
One of Ramy's biggest hits, Segn Bel Alwan (featuring Lebanese rapper Malikah) was released in 2016. The song highlighting women’s situation and the issue of gender equality in his home country, became one of the most streamed videos in Egypt in the weeks after its release.
Ramy collaborated with UK artist PJ Harvey on "The Camp", a single released in June 2017 to benefit displaced children in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley fleeing the Syrian Civil War.
In 2017 Ramy released his album "Resala Ela Magles El Amn" ("A Letter To The UN Security Council") on Universal Music MENA. The album is a mix of re-recorded older tracks and new compositions. The lyrical topics range from depictions of daily hardships of normal people, the struggle for social justice and women´s rights, environmental issues and criticism of the regime.
On February 26th 2018 Ramy released a song and music video called Balaha. The song went viral in Egypt and reached millions of views in few days. The song criticizing the authoritarian regime was immediately condemned in the Egyptian conservative media, and it annoyed supporters of the regime, being the only revolutionary act during a silent era.
BALAHA: Listen & Download
In 2017 and into 2018 Ramy began to tour the US and Canada extensively. Performing at major festivals like Vancouver Folk Festival, Mundial Montreal, Stan Rogers Folk Festival, and Rocky Folks Festival, as well as performing in major touring markets such as NYC, Boston, and Austin. Ramy also taught an artist residency at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 2017 and plans to return there in September 2018.
Ramy has begun to build a strong following in North America with dates scheduled in Calgary, Toronto, Philadelphia, New York, Boston as well as other major markets in the US and Canada. During 2016 and 2017 Ramy toured throughout Finland with the theatre monologue RAMY – In the Frontline, which also gathered 5 stars reviews at the Fringe Festival Edinburgh.
Ramy has had artist residencies in Sweden (2014 to 2016), organized by ICORN, and in Finland (2016), organized by Perpetuum Mobile, Helsinki International Artist Programme, Finnish Musicians’ Union and Finnish Music Council.
Ramy remains to be one of the loudest voices for the young generation in Egypt and its struggle for a progressive and modern society, but has also become an international symbol of social activism and a beacon of uncommon bravery in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Ramy stands for gender equality, freedom, social justice, equity, health care, minority rights, education and peace.
Ramy has released four albums: Manshourat (2011), El Masala (2012), Mamnoua' (2014) and Resala Ela Magles El Amn (2017).
Currently, he is finishing up his next album which was recorded in Finland in 2017/2018, and has begun composing music for his first English album due out sometime in 2018/2019.
”I saw Ramy Essam and he was breathtaking. I learned his backstory and it brought me to tears. Then I saw him live and was blown away by his power and passion and complete soul-driven delivery. Love, loved him! He's a force of nature.”
– Lisa Schwartz, Festival Director, Philadelphia Folk Festival
“One of the biggest highlights of this year's Folk Alliance International Conference was discovering Ramy Essam. I first caught him doing an impromptu performance in the hallways of the Westin hotel with Kansas City artist Calvin Arsenia. Although both artists had just met, they played together beautifully. They mesmerized everyone that walked by and attracted a captive audience. Later, I caught the full band for his official performance that was both breathtaking and inspirational. His story of overcoming struggle and using music to protest oppression is extremely powerful.”
— Rhonda Lyne, Midwest Music Foundation
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