Tania Saleh is a Lebanese singer/songwriter who has been paving her own path in the Arabic underground musical scene since 1990.
Tania Saleh is a Lebanese singer/songwriter/visual artist who has been paving her own path in the Arabic independent musical scene since 1990. Her voice is a soft mix between the traditional Arabic music she was raised on and the western sounds she chose to follow. Tania was born in Beirut, Lebanon (March 11, 1969). She survived the Lebanese civil war that started when she was 6. Saleh began her musical career in her late teens when Alex Bessos, founder of the band Minus Infinitee, in search of a lead vocalist expressed his interest in her voice and invited her to audition for the job of lead singer. Her first live performance was at the West Hall at the American University of Beirut in 1986. The Minus Infinitee experience did not last long because the founder emigrated to the United States.
Saleh enrolled in The Lebanese American University to study Fine Arts but music was always her first love. While in college, she joined many rock bands in search for her own style. Sometimes she had to cross the border between East and West Beirut to do her rehearsals with the musicians. She also wrote and performed jingles for radio commercials for pocket money.
In 1990, after the civil war ended, she left to Paris to get her master's degree in "Arts Plastiques". She lived in a boat on the Seine for a year and fell in love with the beauty of the city. Upon her return, she applied her passion for the arts in the world of television where, for two years, she experimented with image and sound, created illustrations, animations, video art and music jingles.
In 1994, she wanted to discover the world of advertising which opened a new horizon on audio-visual experimentation. During that time she auditioned for an upcoming play by Ziad Rahbany, a famous Lebanese music composer/lyricist/pianist and playwright. She got the chance to sing and act live in two consecutive plays, "Bikhsous el Karameh Wil Shaab el Anid" and "Lawla Foushat el Amal" between 1993 and 1996, and to take part in the backing vocals recording on two cult albums, "Bema Enno" (with the late singer Joseph Sakr) and "Ila Assy" (a tribute to Assy Rahbany by Fairouz).
In 1996, Tania started to work on her solo album "Tania Saleh" with music veteran Issam Hajali ("Al Ard" band). She recorded her first songs at Notta Studio with sound engineer Philippe Tohme who later became her music producer and husband between 1997 and 2011. Ziad Rahbany played piano on two of her tracks, her first single, "Al Ozone" (appeared as an exclusive music video on Future Television) and "Habibi" (written by Issam Hajali, appeared on her first album "Tania Saleh" released in 2002). The album was not considered a mainstream product but Tania started an independent musical movement especially with the growth of the internet community in the Arab world. She performed live in various venues in Lebanon and the Arab world from 2002 to 2004.
Marriage and family life (she gave birth to Tarek in 1997 and Karim in 2003) took her away from live performances for more than seven years. In the meantime, she started writing her second album, while working in the advertising world to make a living.
In 2005, she wrote the lyrics to "Mreyte Ya Mreyte", the title song in Lebanese director Nadine Labaki's first feature film "Caramel", composed by Khaled Mouzannar. She also wrote the lyrics to Natasha Atlas' song "Communicate" released on Lebanese band Blend's one and only album "Act One". Her first trip to the U.S.A. was hosted by music producer Miles Copeland who chose her as one of the main Arab artists portrayed in the PBS-produced musical documentary entitled: "Dissonance and Harmony/Arab Music Goes West". The documentary was preceded by a 5-day musical workshop uniting American and Arab artists at SIR studios in Los Angeles. It was directed by Jon Brandeis and aired on PBS, BBC, Al Jazeera and Al Hurra. The result of this workshop/documentary was the songs: "Slow Down" (released as a single and on the compilation "Desert Roses5") and the song "Had There Been a Dream" (released on the compilation "Bagdad Heavy Metal") both produced by Miles Copeland between 2006 and 2009. In 2009, in the middle of political and social turmoil, she released a new single and shot the music video entitled "Ya Wled", a critical ode to all Lebanese politicians prior to the parliamentary elections.
She performed live in various venues of the world including DRM Beirut, Byblos International Festival, The Opera House and Al Genaina Theater in Cairo, The National Theater of Doha, The Roxy (Los Angeles) and Arlington World Music Festival (Washington, D.C.) In 2010, she was featured on Al Jazeera in "Next Music Station", a documentary by musician /filmmaker Fermin Muguruza who painted a 'soundscape' of the modern independent Arab music scene. The film was screened in Studio 39, New York the next year.
In April 2011, she released her second studio album (co-produced by Philippe Tohme) and a music video entitled "Wehde". The album immediately became number 1 on the TOP 10 list of best selling albums at Virgin Megastore, Beirut and accompanied the winds of change throughout the Arab World. She also wrote the lyrics and coached the singers in Khaled Mouzannar's soundtrack for Nadine Labaki's second feature film "Where Do We Go Now?" released worldwide in September 2011. The film soundtrack also made it to number 1 on the TOP 10 list of best selling albums at Virgin Megastore, Beirut and was distributed worldwide. It won "Best Music Award" in Stockholm International Film Festival in November 2011. In 2012, Tania's song "Hsebak Baadein" was included in Galileo's Lebanese underground music compilation entitled "Radio Beirut" released in Germany and on all online music platforms.
She also released her first live album containing songs from film soundtracks that she had written the lyrics for and three previously unreleased songs recorded live. The album was entitled "Tania Saleh Live at DRM" and released in December of the same year. She performed live at the KKV church as part of the Red Zone Festival in Oslo, Norway in March 2013 and opened the Beirut Spring Festival in May of the same year. In the summer of 2014, she was chosen by The Baalbeck International Festival to perform at the temple of Bacchus. She also shared the stage as a guest with Lebanese trumpet player and composer Ibrahim Maalouf at the Byblos International Festival the same year. She recently released her third studio album "A Few Images" in collaboration with Norwegian producer Erik Hillestad from Kirkelig Kulturverksted.
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