On Sunday, the 22nd of January, the Egyptian underground music scene lost one of its pioneering artists Rania Shaalan, after a long battle with illness. The singer-songwriter and guitar player was one of the leading voices of the Egyptian folk music movement, known for composing songs written by legendary poets like Salah Jaheen and Ahmed Fouad Negm. Along the way, she created a self-contained style through her approach to mixing Arabic lyrics with American Folk sensibilities.

Shaalan was first introduced to the public through famed Egyptian musician Fathy Salama in the mid-90s and joined his touring band, performing in Egypt, the U.S. and Europe. She began performing her original music in the early 2000s and was a staple of El Sawy Culture Wheel and the Cairo Opera House. In addition, she collaborated with some of the leading artists from the underground scene who later broke through to mainstream audiences, like Amir Eid, Ahmed Bahaa and Dina El Wedidi, just to name a few. 

A versatile artist, Shaalan was also an accomplished sculptor, having graduated from the faculty of Fine Arts, and being featured in several international art exhibitions. 

Her legacy will always be the honesty she brought to her music and the support she gave to younger musicians. The past few days have seen a flood of tributes from musicians and fans alike.