On 21 November 2011 the Egyptian singer Ramy Essam received the Freemuse Award 2011 at a ceremony in Södra Teatern in Stockholm, Sweden.
“My dream is to spread the voice of Egypt all over the world. Thank you for helping me in that,” said Ramy Essam when he entered the stage in Stockholm, arriving straight from the airport after a long flight from South Africa where he had received another award, the Freedom to Create Prize, the day before.
“A-salaam aleikum. Thank you everyone for waiting for me. I’d like to thank everyone for giving me this chance to be here. And thanks to Freemuse and SKAP especially. I was extremely excited when I heard that I’d receive this award. Any artist would wish to be in my place now.
I’d like to thank my mum, my stepfather, my sister, and my brother. I wish my dad could have been here with me, but I am sure that he is somewhere, smiling, and proud of me.
I’d like to dedicate this award to the revolution and the Egyptian protesters. Please, a moments silence for the martyrs.
My presence here [in Sweden] doesn’t mean that I have forgotten what is happening in Egypt. We have understood that the Egyptian revolution is not finished yet. The 18 days [at Tahrir Square in February 2011] were just the beginning. We will stay protesting in the streets until freedom, democracy and social equality has been approved. I am looking forward to getting back there, so I can be with them.”
Freemuse Award 2011 media coverage
See and listen to Freemuse’s video interview with Ramy Essam
Ramy Essam gave a performance as well as a moving speech about his hopes and dreams for Egypt.
Ramy Essam is greeted by the chairman of SKAP, Alfons Karabuda.
The Freemuse Award Committee stated: “Ramy Essam played an important role during the Egyptian revolution and suffered severe beatings and torture as a consequence. He personifies the powerful role that music played in the Arab Spring.”
Time Out in London declared his song ‘Irhal’ number 3 on a Top 100 list of songs that changed history, stating it is “one of the most influential songs of the modern age.”
Right! Freedom of Music & Speech Ramy Essam received the Freemuse Award in Stockholm on 21 November 2011 as part of the international conference and concert ‘Right! Freedom of Music & Speech’ organised by the Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers (SKAP) at Södra Teatern. Read more on right11.se
Freemuse Award The Freemuse Award is sponsored by the Björn Afzelius International Culture Foundation (BAIK). Björn Afzelius, who died in 1999, was a Swedish rock singer who became a passionate spokesman for suppressed people around the world combining his musical career with political activism.
Press service: Click here for sound files and photos in high resolution
The 2011 Freemuse Award statuette was handed over to Ramy Essam by Rebecca Afzelius and Marie Korpe.
Ramy Essam’s days in Stockholm were fully booked with interview appointments. Above: Interview with the Swedish public service television SVT.
Second runner up for the Freedom to Create Main Prize
Ramy Essam was the second runner up for the Freedom to Create Main Prize. He was honoured with a ‘runner-up’ prize of 10,000 US dollars at a vibrant awards ceremony and concert at the Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa on 19 November 2011.
About Ramy Essam Born in 1987 in Al-Mansoura, one of Egypt’s smaller cities, where he went to school and studied engineering, Ramy Essam self-learned playing the guitar and started to write songs at the age of 17, inspired by young poets like Amgad Qahwagi and Mohamed Bahgat, as well as the poet Ahmed Fouad Negm who spoke up against Mubarak’s regime.
In 2009, Ramy Essam established the folk band Mashakel (‘Problems’), and started to advocate for a life in freedom by illustrating in his songs the simple dailyday problems he was confronted with, along with all Egyptians, under Mubarak’s regime.
Ramy Essam is currently working on producing an album of songs from Tahrir Square, which he had entitled ‘Al Midan’. The album is scheduled for release in November 2011.
Photo: Issra Wasfy
Freemuse article about Ramy Essam 6 April 2011: ‘Musician in the firing line of the Arab Spring’ The events on Tahrir Square gave singer Ramy Essam the reputation as one of North Africa’s new musical revolution heroes, proclaimed to be ‘Egypt’s Bob Dylan’.