Alex Atack


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A blind oud player from humble beginnings, Sheikh Imam’s destiny changed drastically when he met a dissident poet called Ahmed Fouad Negm in 1960s Cairo, and they formed a duo. Together, they would go on start a new era in Egyptian popular music.

Their songs would shake regimes, travel the world on cassette tapes, and transcend their own time to become part of the soundtrack to Egypt’s revolution decades later. And they managed all of this while dealing with constant harassment by the state - including long periods in prison.

I co-reported and produced this episode with Nadeen Shaker and Heba El-Sherif, with editing by Dana Ballout. Fact checking was by Deena Sabry, sound design and music by Monzer El-Hachem.