Reem was born in England, brought up in Kuwait and now lives in London. Working in the Diaspora, Reem has introduced countless non-Arab musicians to Arabic and Palestinian music.
Reem's reputation as an artist for whom her independence is an article of faith, musically, spiritually and politically, extends across the Arab and the non Arab worlds.
She has led major tours with her band to the UAE (2000), Greece (2000 & 2006), Belgium (2006 & 2008), Syria (2007 & 2009), Turkey (2005 & 2008), Ireland (2010), China (2010 & 2011), and Seattle (2008 & 2013).
Reem has performed solo and with local musicians in major concerts in Kuwait (1988 & 1989), Los Angeles (1992 & 1993), Palestine (1993 & 2000), Lebanon (1998), and Canada (1993, 1994, 1999 & 2013).
* As a soloist in Sir Karl Jenkins' Stabat Mater, before a packed Royal Albert Hall, and alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Philharmonic choir, (2015);
* As a soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, an on-stage band and a choir of 250 in Norway (2014);
* Joint concerts with the Turkish collective Kardes Türküler (2009 and 2014);
* Joint concert with the late Turkish Roma clarinet virtuoso Selim Sesler (2008);
* "From Palestine to Portugal" with Portuguese Fado singer Liana (2008), a unique mixing of Arabic and Portuguese voices, of Fado and Arabic music, and of the verse of Palestinian national poet, Mahmoud Darwish, and Portuguese Nobel laureate, Jose Saramago;
* Duo Jazz project with the outstanding pianist Bruno Heinen (from 2007);
* Reem composed "Paradise in Strangers" for and led the Beating Wing Orchestra, an ensemble of refugee musicians, in a performance at Manchester International Festival (2007);
a) The Arts Council of England 2013. Reem was awarded funding for her work on Classical Egyptian Music;
b) Arab-British Culture and Society Award Nomination 2013 – a special commendation for Reem’s “notable contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the life, society and culture of the Arab people”;
c) BBC Alba’s A’Gharaids series, featuring a special collaboration by Reem Kelani and Gaelic singer Catriona Watt, nominated for the Scottish Traditional Music Awards 2009;
d) Arab-British Culture and Society Award Nomination 2008 – a special commendation for Reem’s “notable contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the life, society and culture of the Arab people”;
e) Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Fund Nomination, 2007;
f) Glastonbury Unsigned Bands finalist 2005.
a) Why do I Love Her? An EP of live recordings including a love song from Kuwait, a traditional Palestinian song from the Galilee, a song about Reem’s anguished love for Palestine and an American blues number.
b) “Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle“. A recording of Reem in concert at the Tabernacle, London W11.
“Kelani is more than a musician: she’s a teacher, a scholar and a broadcaster. She is also a force of nature, reminiscent in some ways of the Argentinian great Mercedes Sosa.” Mahir Ali, The Australian
c) “Celebrating Subversion - The Anti-Capitalist Roadshow“. Reem contributed two songs to this joint album by the ACR collective: Babour Zammar, a popular Tunisian anthem, and Song of the Olive Tree by Leon Rosselson.
d) “Sprinting Gazelle - Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora”
Best of 2006: Financial Times, Time Out & New Internationalist
More than 50 first class reviews from across the world.
“A lovely stillness pervades this album, whose illuminating English-Arabic liner notes are a work of art in themselves.“ Michael Church, BBC Music Magazine
Reem’s next album “This Land is Your Land” will be a celebration of diversity, comprising songs from the communities within and around which she grew up in Kuwait. Progress on the project has been interrupted by Covid-19, but Reem hopes to complete it by mid 2021.
To buy her albums, go to www.reemkelani.com
Reem Kelani’s tracks