Mayssa Jallad

In her folk and jazz-inspired songs, she wanders through the long-destroyed alleys of Beirut and keeps the memory of it alive


Marjaa: The Battle of the Hotels is an album born of singer/songwriter Mayssa Jallad’s two vocations: music and architecture. Written in collaboration with producer Fadi Tabbal, the songs recount the 1975 “Battle of the Hotels” where opposing factions fought over the hotel district seeking to dominate the city's architectural heights. The outcome of the battle determined the East-West demarcation line that separated the town for over 15 years; A violent divide that still resonates to this day in Lebanese culture.

Mayssa’s music caters to post-war youth who have never been taught this difficult history. It is also a call to protest for the renewal, rather than the recycling, of the political class that holds the population hostage of its historical violence. 

Programme Text

In the early 1970s, Beirut was a vibrant city with modern architecture and a lively art and music scene. But then it descended into civil war. The first battles of 1975 took place in the hotel district, the beginning of the religious segregation that still characterises Beirut today. On her album Marjaa: The Battle of the Hotels, singer and architect Mayssa Jallad tells the story of this conflict. As she wanders the long-destroyed alleys of the past, her folk and jazz-inspired songs keep the memory alive that things were different once and one day could be different again.

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