Image Credit: Abi Caroll

“Jam3a” event gathers and inspires artists for a cause

Over 400 spectators and artists filed into the lower floor of KED events venue on February 3, filling the space with a feeling of calm anticipation for Jam3a, a performance event to raise relief funds for families in South Lebanon.

Two stages set up at a ninety-degree angle to each other accommodated over a dozen different performances which ranged from poetry readings, film screenings, live music sets, and stand-up comedy.

The performers at the event included both well-established and relatively new artists, recruited by musician and music producer Zeid Hamdan.

Hamdan said that the idea for the gathering came from his own lack of ability to perform and write new music in light of the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the bombardments in South Lebanon that began to unfold in October 2023.

Since then, attacks by the Israeli military have destroyed over half of residential structures in Gaza and displaced over 80,000 people in South Lebanon.

After a few months, however, Hamdan decided to return to music.

“I felt that, on the one hand, we could go completely crazy and depressed watching our screens with the tragedy that is unfolding or we could meet with people who stand up for us and give us the best inspiration,” he said.

He felt that a large gathering of artists would foster a familial feeling of togetherness with the benefit of also taking direct action to support others who were not present at the event, and most affected by ongoing violence and displacement.

“The idea is gathering and helping: helping each other and helping others,” Hamdan continued.

Among the performers was Yal Solan, who performed poetry and music that she had selected specifically for the occasion.

She performed an unreleased song that expresses the feeling of spending time by oneself to find inner strength.

Solan followed the song with a poem she wrote which explores how connecting to one’s own body can be a portal to first personal and then societal transformation and change.

“It felt beautiful . . . [The performance] didn’t feel one-sided. It felt like we were all together in one big home. And everyone was receptive and ready to absorb.”

Mayssa Jallad, who met Hamdan years ago as one of his accompanying vocalists, also considered premiering unreleased work of her own.

The challenge of performing at the same event as over a dozen other artists and having only ten minutes to share was a bit overwhelming at first, but it pushed her to share something she has been thinking about for a long time.

She opted to preface one of her previously released music videos with a short talk about the inspiration for the track, “Beit Azraq”.

The song is from her first solo album which uses the point of view of architectural structures in Beirut to narrate different events during the 1975 Battle of the Hotels.

Jallad drew parallels between the Black Sabbath killings during the Lebanese Civil War and the ongoing massacres in Palestine.

She prompted the audience to ask themselves why there is disproportionality in massacres and what incites them to become disproportional responses to human suffering.

Jallad, who is also an urban researcher, finds that the use of architecture and poetic symbolism allows her songs to tackle difficult topics, like sectarian tensions, directly in an emotionally engaging way without being overly triggering or trauma-inducing.

“I was able to speak to an audience I hadn’t spoken to before,” she said after the concert. 

“I think people were receptive.”

The event continued seamlessly, transitioning from act to act by timing performances to end on one stage, right before the next performance began on the other.

Raymonda Chamoun produced the event and said that the scenography of Donna Maria Feghali as well as the tireless sound and lighting design support from Joy Moughanni, Majd el Baba, and John Kisswany respectively were essential to ensuring top quality production value while preserving the intimate and communal feeling of the event.

The efforts were successful in raising $3,708 for families in South Lebanon. The volunteer-led initiative Samidoun agreed to spearhead distributing the funds to support displaced families they already had contact with.