Thursday, 28 October 2010


Vola vola, palombella : from our childhood with love

  • Thursday, 28 October 2010
  • Fouad GM
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  • I intended to post something politics-free, just musical, cultural, artistic. But politics made its way into it - only a bit though!

    This bilingual Italian-Arabic song that, along with other childish-cheesy songs, made it to the top of the chart on kids' TV channels in Egypt and the Arab World. I recall this song clearly, I even recall a kindergarden performance we had when I was perhaps 5, in which we re-sang it on stage!

    Oh, the days!

    Nadina: Vola vola (1986)
    Nadina is from Barja, a village near Chhim in the Chouf Mountains. After her parents escaped the carnage of the Civil War, Nadina was "discovered" by Palestinian-Egyptian composer and maestro Salim Sahab who nurtured her talent.

    This song was first performed on 22 November 1986 in Bologna. Then six years old, Nadina performed this song at the Antoniano dei Frati Minori as part of the 29th Zecchino D'oro festival held by UNICEF. The song made her a child star with an audience of some 25-million people worldwide.

    The song was a bilingual (Italian-Arabic) translation of Majida El-Roumy's late 1970s song by the same name "Teeri Teeri, Ya Asfoura".

    Nadina's family finally decided to leave Lebanon for good in 1989 and never return to the war-torn country. The child star would become an athlete, swimmer and singer in Canada where she continues to live.

    She is expected to release a new album soon according to her website.

    Remix (2008?)
    More than 20 years later, Nadina reappeared with a dance remix of her song, Vola vola palombella. The video, directed by Silvio Pollio, features 20-30 year old Lebanese men and women sat around an argileh (shisha). Dressed in the different costumes of the country's then-warring sects, the young men and women reminiscing on the song against the backdrop of flashbacks of these times. They debate where "the girl who sang Vola vola palombella" might have gone before Nadina appears and re-sings her song to the beats of Arabo-trance - something that'd pretty much suit modern Beirut nightlife!

    The new video clip is dedicated to the memory of Maestro Mariele Ventre who directed her original performance in 1986.

    Vola vola palombella (1986)

    Lyrics: Joseph Abi Daher
    Composer: Ihsan Almounzer

    The Italian lyrics:
    vola, vola palombella = fly, fly little pigeon
    prima che scompaia la mia stella = before my star disappears
    un bacino sulla fronte = and a little kiss on your forehead
    Porta il sol che spunta all’orizzonte = bring the sun that appears in the horizon
    e se un chicco d’oro ti darà = and if it gives you a gold grain
    un chicco di felicità = a grain of happiness
    me lo presti, amica bella? = can you lend it, beautiful friend?

    The Arabic lyrics
    بيتك يا عصفورة وين؟ = where is your nest o! bird?
    ما بشوفك الا بتطيري = I only see you flying
    ما عندك غير جناحين = you only have wings
    حاكينا كلمة صغيرة = talk to me, tell me something

    لو سألونا منقلن = if they ask me, I'll tell them
    ما حاكتنا العصفورة = the bird didn't talk to me

    طيري طيري ... يا عصفورة = fly, oh fly! O! little bird

    Majida El-Roumy: Teeri teeri ya asfoura!
    Below is a video of Majida El-Roumy's original performance of the song in the late 1970s.

    1 Responses to “Vola vola, palombella : from our childhood with love”

    Maistica said...
    21 February 2012 at 03:35

    this brings back memories :)
    I have learnt Italian at college and the Italian lyrics took my breath away <3
    thank you for this amazing post, Fouad :D

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