Songs of Resistance: Five Palestinian Musicians Sending You a Message You Need To Hear

by Laila Musleh

From Elyanna to Shabjdeed, these Palestinian musicians use their talents and platforms to speak on the Palestinian experience, in all of its shapes and colors. Their music collectively testifies to the enduring resilience of the Palestinian identity

Storytelling is an inherent trait of Palestinian identity– stories carrying a colorful tapestry of the land, ancestral struggles and current hopes and dreams. Music, an integral form of this, continues to serve as a powerful tool for resistance, solidarity and cultural representation among many oppressed communities.

Through allegories and metaphors, these musicians preserve their identity and heritage, transforming music into a medium for healing and unity.

In today’s interconnected world, music can reach all corners of the globe, sharing this prayer for peace. While listeners may initially be drawn to a song’s rhythm, the lyrics often inspire curiosity that fuels action. 

For centuries, Palestinians used lyrics and the beats of traditional drums to assert their identity and right to their land. The current voices of Palestinian artists echo across their homeland and beyond, serving both as protest and a coalition for those on the ground and in the diaspora. 

Elyanna: From Nazareth to Coachella 

The first Arab singer to grace the stages of Coachella, Elyanna’s music re-imagines old folk songs, drawing inspiration from the legendary Fairuz. One of her most recent releases, “Olive Branch (Ghosn Zeytoun)”, captures the mere heartbreak felt by Palestinians far from their homeland.

In this song, Elyanna expresses her yearning for peace through the symbolism of an olive branch, praying for Palestine despite the dreaded physical distance. Her lyrics are spoken thoughts of all displaced Palestinians. 

Nemahsis: A Soulful Pursuit of Self-Acceptance

A Canadian-Palestinian artist whose music dives into themes of identity, belonging and resilience, her lyrics reflect her experiences as an Arab and Muslim woman living in Western society. In her recent song “Immigrant’s Tale”, Nemahsis highlights the struggles of those who long for a permanent connection to their homeland while navigating a new terrain. This song speaks of the universal challenges regarding displacement, resonating with people in the Palestinian diaspora and beyond. 

Shabjdeed: Rebellion through beats and poetry 

Shabjdeed grew as a prominent figure in the young Palestinian hip hop scene. The poetry in his music addresses issues of political oppression and social injustice, specifically the oppression and injustices endured by Palestinians.

For years now, Shajdeed’s music resonated deeply with younger generations seeking a clearer understanding of their identity. While music has long been a tool for resistance, hip-hop continues to grow in the Palestinian resistance movement. 

Zeyne: Arabic infused R&B

Zeyne’s music topped R&B charts worldwide – her music explores the experiences of an Arab woman, covering themes of love, loss, anxiety, and feminine empowerment. Zeyne's song “Nostalgia” exemplifies this blend, as it looks back on the cherished memories and lingering emotions tied to her homeland. Her music serves as a voice for displaced listeners, yearning for a connection to their ancestral land. 

Dana Salah: Demanding space for female Arab artists

One of her recent releases, “Ya Tal3een,” draws inspiration from an older traditional song, re-imagined to highlight the ongoing Palestinian struggle. She sings, “In the land of olive trees, from the river to the sea, my people tasted freedom… as their voices started to rise, we’re ending an apartheid.” These lyrics amplify the collective voice of the Palestinian people – using phrases known for their resonance in protests – Salah highlights Palestinian’s deep connection to the land and their unshakable commitment to liberation.

In the midst of struggle, Palestinians stand firm in their faith and hope for freedom; this song is a testament to the shared resilience of the Palestinian people. 

Ceasefire Now & Forever

For Palestinians, music is not just an art form, it is a documentation that carries Palestinian’s history, hopes and dreams– mere statements of an identity and its struggle. It’s a testament to their resilience and stern declaration of their right to exist.

We’ve curated a Spotify playlist that includes the voices mentioned, take a moment to listen to their words and stories– let the lyrics inspire your next act toward Palestinian liberation.

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