Ramy Essam is an Egyptian rock musician who exploded into international fame during the Egyptian revolution in 2011. During the height of the uprising, he performed in front of millions of people in Tahrir Square. His music became the soundtrack of a whole generation of his countrymen and women who were fighting for a better life and a more just society. Ramy Essam is considered to be one of the loudest voices for the young generation in Egypt and it’s struggle for a progressive and modern society. He has become an international symbol of social activism and a beacon of uncommon bravery in the Middle East. Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) once said that Essam is the ”rock Bob Dylan of the Middle East.”
Essam's song "Irhal," in which he demands the resignation of then-ruler Hosni Mubarak, is referred to as the real anthem of the revolution. The song was ranked at #3 on the list of 100 songs that changed history by Time Out London. However, fame came with a heavy price. Essam experienced brutal torture and arrests that were meant to silence his voice. His songs were banned and he was forbidden to perform publicly. He resolved to come out even stronger against oppression, saying “In the revolution I was born again. The struggle became the purpose of my life.”
In 2018, Essam released a video that went viral for a song called "Balaha," which he co-wrote with Galal El-Behairy. El-Behairy is an Egyptian poet, lyricist, and activist who has been in detention in Tora Prison in Cairo since March 2018. El-Behairy was arrested five days after the release of “Balaha,” disappeared for a week, and exhibited signs of torture when he appeared before the High State Security Prosecution. El-Behairy is currently being held in detention under the High State Security’s charges of terrorist affiliation, dissemination of false news, abuse of social media networks, blasphemy, contempt of religion, and insulting the military.
Today, Ramy Essam lives in Sweden in exile where he continues to speak out as an ambassador of the Egyptian revolution with songs about gender equality, freedom, social justice, equity, health care, minority rights, education, and peace. He also speaks out about censorship and Trump's infamous travel ban. Working with organizations like Artists at Risk, PEN International, Perpetual Mobile, Artistic Freedom Initiative, ICORN, and Free Muse, among others, Ramy Essam is working towards a better world for others facing censorship and lack of freedom to move.