From Gaza, with love: Palestinian singer Saint Levant brings solidarity to Coachella stage

Singer made his Coachella debut over the weekend

April 15, 2024

In a resonating performance at Coachella, Palestinian-French-Algerian-Serbian rapper Saint Levant brought not just electrifying beats but also a profound message of solidarity with Palestine to the forefront of the music festival. Despite competing with the much-anticipated No Doubt reunion, Saint Levant managed to draw a massive crowd to the Gobi Tent, where fans, adorned with keffiyehs and Palestinian flags, eagerly embraced his performance.

The 23-year-old artist, whose real name is Marwan Abdelhamid, hails from a diverse background, having spent his childhood in the Gaza Strip before relocating with his family to Jordan and eventually settling in Los Angeles. His deeply personal connection to Gaza was palpable as he addressed the audience, declaring, "My name is Saint Levant, and I was born in Jerusalem and raised in Gaza."

He added, "As I hope all of you are aware, the people of Gaza have been undergoing a brutal, brutal genocide for the past six months. And the people of Palestine have been undergoing a brutal occupation for the past 75 years." Furthermore, he exclaimed, "It's not just me on the stage -- it's the whole Arab world on the stage," embodying the collective voice of a community determined to raise awareness and demand justice for Palestine.

Throughout his set, Saint Levant showcased both his established hits and newer tracks, including "Deira" and "5am in Paris," the latter released just days before his Coachella performance. These songs delve into themes of exile and displacement, reflecting Saint Levant's own experiences and the broader Palestinian narrative. "It's about exile," he told his Coachella audience. "A feeling that us Palestinians know a bit too well."

The significance of Saint Levant's presence at Coachella was not lost on attendees. Yara Brenton, a 43-year-old festival-goer, described the experience as "incredible," highlighting the importance of Saint Levant's outspokenness about the Palestinian cause. Reflecting on the evolving awareness of Palestine, Brenton remarked, "There are a lot more people who know about Palestine today," Brenton said. "And there's no going back, I think, from this awareness."

Saint Levant's emergence follows in the footsteps of fellow Palestinian artists like Elyanna, who made history as the first Palestinian to perform at Coachella the previous year. Their presence not only enriches the musical landscape but also serves as a potent reminder of the power of art to inspire change and amplify marginalized voices.

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