Tunisian vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist Emel Mathlouthi captivates hearts and minds with her intimate, lyrical style, fierce rock beats, and throbbing trip-hop and oriental influences. Mathlouthi tells the story of HER Tunisia: the dark years as a young rebel and dissenter; the strife of being a female musician; her artistic and ideological struggle after her songs were banned from the radio and TV; and the dual love and suffering that came from longing for home while living in a free country.
Emel began her artistic career at the age of 8 in Ibn Sina, a suburb of Tunis. At age 25, oppressed by the Tunisian government because of her music, she moved to France to pursue her career as a singer, and then in 2014 she took another step in her career and moved to New York City. She has been said to evoke the urgency of American folk singer, Joan Baez, with the devotion of a chanter of ancient sacred music and the presence of a soul diva. She has given concerts around North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Europe and North America.
Her passion and courage is evident in her deeply confessional music and powerful presence. Her song Kelmti Horra (My Word is Free) was taken up by the Arab Spring revolutionaries and sung on the streets of Tunis. Her arrangements include electronically sampled sounds of the Arab Spring street protests, speeches from the deposed Tunisian president, and the announcement of resignation from Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak. But regardless of the words, her voice itself evokes a yearning for freedom and change. She has quickly become a voice of the revolution and a shining musical light for the future.