Melbourne folk singer-songwriter Shelley Segal has received criticism in the Moroccan press and has been vilified on social media for her song Morocco, written about a trip to the country as a 19-year-old in 2007, with many Moroccans feeling the song is disparaging and critical of their country.
In the song and the accompanying video, which was filmed in Marrakesh and Essaouira, Segal sings about her experiences as a young traveller, which included being offered cannabis in a marketplace and playing music with an eight-year-old boy who was “high as a kite from sniffing glue all night.”
“I have dreadlocks and people called out ‘Hey Rasta, do you want to buy some weed’ and that was the refrain, literally, of my trip so that fell naturally into the chorus of my song,” Segal said. “There were quite a few children in the square… they sniff glue, it’s quite a common thing in Marrakesh.”
Segal told Fairfax the song focuses on both sides of Morocco. “It’s just to contrast that situation as a tourist and having fun and getting to escape my troubles, contrasted with some troubles local people are facing and questioning what is my place here… and what troubles do I actually have,” she said.
But soon after she uploaded the video, she found a story written in French on Moroccan news site Afriquinfos claiming that the song “denounced the kingdom.” Using Google, Segal translated the article, part of which read, “Young Australian singer writes song very critical of Morocco.”
Following the article’s publication, Segal noticed a rise in the number of comments on her video, most of which were negative. “Some people, some of the comments, said I was complaining that these people were approaching me trying to sell me drugs in a sly way and that wasn’t the point of my song. It wasn’t to criticise anyone offering me drugs it was more just to highlight that contrast.”
Some of the attacks have gotten personal, Segal says. “A lot of people are saying that I’m a fat cow and that’s the most common comment really.” But Segal is pleased by the small amount of positive comments, saying that there are in fact “people from Morocco saying they love the song.”
Watch: Shelley Segal – Morocco
Gallery: Shelley Segal Live Stream Behind The Scenes – Music Feeds Studio
Photos by Zoltan Blazer