Here’s a small gallery of images from last night’s Doha appearance by Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir, one of the most popular and widely respected singers in the Arab world.
Most appealing about the performance was what I’d call his authentic, or traditional style, which largely eschews the tendency towards electronics and modern synthesization that ruins the vast majority of Arabic and Middle Eastern pop music today. Instead Al Sahir relies upon classical orchestral accompaniments –mostly strings and percussion— and traditional regional instruments and melodies.
Born in Mosul in 1957, Al Sahir —his name also appears as Kazem, Kadhem and Kathem and his family name as Saher, El Saher and Al Saher— recorded his first album in 1984 and has since released 21 more. According to his wiki bio –and local colleagues as well– his repertoire consists mostly of romantic ballads, but has made room for some political work as well.
I can generally only take the melancholic melodies of “typical” Arabic music in very short bursts, so was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed and appreciated this 30-minute set as much as I did.
El Sahir left Iraq in the early 1990s after the first Gulf War and has lived in most Arab countries, along with Paris, since. In 2011 UNICEF named him a goodwill ambassador for Iraq, resulting in his first visit to his homeland in 14 years. Here’s a brief Al Jazeera report on that return.
Last night’s concert was sponsored by organizers of the Men’s Handball World Championship that is currently underway in the Qatari capital, with more performances on the way. Appearances by Pharrell Williams (22 January) and Gwen Stefani (24 January) have already been announced.
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