Egyptian and Basque musicians to play at Lincoln ‘banned concert’

Musicians from Egypt, the Basque country and Belarus will be among those performing at a one-off concert in Lincoln, featuring artists blacklisted in their homelands.

Leading the ‘Listen To The Banned’ event at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre on September 5 will be Ramy Essam, a key figure of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution in Tahrir Square, Cairo.

Ramy was arrested, interrogated and brutally tortured for his role in the revolution before being offered safe city residence for two years by The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), an organisation that shelters writers in peril.

He now lives in the Swedish city of Malmo where he is studying music while continuing to perform new songs.

His appearance in Lincoln is part of the programme for Festival800, a special Magna Carta inspired series of events designed to promote liberty and human rights for the 800th anniversary of the historic document.

Ramy said: “I’m really looking forward to performing in the UK as part of Festival800 because the whole premise of the festival is based around the principles of liberation and freedom of speech.

“It’s important for people, no matter where they’re from, to have a voice, and Festival800 is a celebration of that right.

“The last time I performed in the UK was in 2011, several months after the protests in Tahrir Square, and I can’t think of a better reason for coming back than to celebrate 800 years of liberty – something I’ve helped fight for in my home country.”

Other musicians performing at the Listen To The Banned day event are Fermin Muguruza and Lavon Volski, from the Basque country and Belarus respectively.

Fermin has performed at concerts in the past where fascists would attend with bombs, threatening him and his Basque hip-hop music, which has been influenced by tensions between Spain and the region.

Although most of his lyrics are in Basque, his compositions are a melting pot of different cultures, with a big influence of Jamaican and electronic music.

Founder of rock group Krambambulya, Lavon is an icon of rock music in his native Belarus.

With a large majority of his songs serving as anthems of the country’s oppression movement, he and his band are blacklisted, along with many other bands, for speaking out against injustice.

He recently performed to 10,000 people in neighbouring Lithuania.

David Lambert, festival director, said: “Attracting such renowned, yet controversial, artists to perform at Festival800 is a huge accomplishment for us.

“The entire ethos of the festival is one of equality, human rights and the ability to live freely, so having these musicians play as part of the festival is symbolic of the long-standing virtue Magna Carta provides for people across the world.”

“Despite being criticised and, in some cases, blacklisted from performing in their home countries, we look forward to welcoming them to Lincoln to perform the songs and anthems that have led to them being censored abroad.”

Tickets to the concert are £10 each and can be purchased online, calling 01522 837600 or visiting the LPAC box office. The event runs from noon to 11pm.

Check out our programme for Festival800 here.