Book of Life
You are going to listen to a new book - 'Book of Life'. It's author, Maryem Tollar, leads a diverse creative existence. She is a founder of the Arabic music ensemble 'Doula' and the world music super group, 'Maza Meze'. She sings with guitarist Jesse Cook and in projects created by one of Canada's finest contemporary composers, Christos Hatzis. This work has brought her national prominence as one of the country's most acclaimed vocalists. Yet her least known work is precisely that which is closest to her heart and soul - her own. 'Book of Life' is an exploration of her experience as an Arab-Canadian woman in times of turmoil. Some of the songs are written by her; others reflect her thoughts in lyrics written by those she loves and admires. A number of the songs address issues as hot as tomorrow's news - the comparison of the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 with contemporary events; the death of a protester in Gaza; the plea for peace sung in Hebrew and Arabic - these are all what journalists call 'hot button' topics. But there is more here - songs of love for her child; what is probably the first poem written in Arabic about Montreal, maybe about Canada period, and a delightful extension of the vocal music of the women of the Sahara. These are songs that are about the pain of being alive and the joys - songs written by her uncle, with her lover and for her child. Combining Maryem's vision and voice with the talents of some of Canada's finest players and singers, 'Book of Life' is just that - an audio book about being alive in 2004 and being Maryem Tollar. It is a book well worth hearing.