About six months ago, I was invited to perform at the first ever Bet Lehem Live festival. Pulling together three musicians who are way better than me (Troy Hatfield, David Gungor, and Brian Wurzell), we hopped on a flight to the Middle East with a few song ideas and, honestly, no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
Bethlehem has been a really rough place to live for many years now. And while some Palestinians don’t see much reason for hope, others are giving their lives to peace and possibility and joy in the middle of all the sorrow. Sami Awad is one of these visionaries. (Read my post about him.)
Sami created the Bet Lehem festival as a way for people to experience the warmth and excitement of Palestinian culture and hospitality…and it was an enormous success!
Since the guys and I arrived a couple days early, we got to wander the streets of Bethlehem and really explore the city. We met great people, visited the Church of the Nativity (the location where Jesus was born), found two works by Banksy, and ate a truckload of incredible street food. Palestinian generosity and hospitality is a beautiful thing. And so is fresh falafel!
On Saturday night, we performed our 30 minute set at the festival. Song list: “Dust” (The Brilliance) / “Love Can Change the World” and “God’s Children” / “All Shall Be Well” (Troy Hatfield) / “The Sun Will Rise” and “Open Up” (The Brilliance). The music came together pretty well, and we were thrilled by their warm response. (I even tried to use an Arabic word in my introduction. The people laughed…which I thought meant they were impressed. But I found out later that I COMPLETELY messed the word up! Ha. Well, I tried.)
A handful of the lyrics exploded to life inside of us as we sang them in this particularly intense context. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share two specific lyrics and stories that really wrecked me. But until then, here’s a short video of Troy singing “All Shall Be Well”. (It would have been longer, but I had to put my phone down and play!)
More coming tomorrow.