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From weddings to biggest music clubs and festivals (Omar Souleyman in Tavastia )

On 28 of February I was on Epica’s concert in Tavastia – music club in Helsinki. Epica is a symphonic metal band. Just two days after that I went to the same club to see the gig of a person, who makes a totally different kind of music. Omar Souleyman – that’s his name. And he is the hero of that article.

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Omar Souleyman is a musician (Wikipedia says, he is also a farmer) from the village of Tell Tamer in Syria. The genre he is a part of is called dabke. As he said: ‘My music is from the community I come from – the Kurdish, the Ashuris, the Arabic, they’re all in this community. Even Turkish because it’s so near, it’s just across the border. And even Iraqi’. He started with performances on weddings. That is why his discography includes more than 500 albums – most recorded during wedding receptions, where he performed. He would later present those recordings to the married couple, then they were copied and sold in local kiosks. Right now, he is touring the whole world, performing in biggest music clubs and festivals (including Glastonbury). He even performed during Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway in December 2013.

On 2 of March Omar came to the beautiful country of Finland to perform in Tavastia. To be honest, I did not expect, that this amount of people will show up. But they did, the venue was packed. Everybody were impatiently waiting for Omar to appear. And then the guy playing keyboard showed up and played a very long intro, during which Omar joined him singing, still being hidden somewhere on the backstage. Suddenly he stepped from the shadow, causing a loud scream of enthusiasm. Because people were really enthusiastic. They were dancing, clapping, jumping. Omar was walking from one side of the stage to another, encouraging people to go crazy – everybody were following his instructions. The funniest and probably the most ‘artist and fans united’ moments were, when Omar handled microphone to the members of the audience, who would shout something or make another strange noises. The greatest party was probably during Omar’s biggest hit called ‘Warni Warni’. Apart from that, he played such songs as, for example: Bahdeni Nami, Shift Al Mani, Enssa El Aatab or Hattaba.

Even thought there were just two people on stage, I have to say, that it was one of those shows to go crazy and have a great fun. This is the music to which you can dance, (maybe not really sing along, as Omar sings in Arabic – language, that may not be familiar to European people. However, there were fans, that would sing together with Omar), jump and really enjoy it. If you are in a bad mood, it will turn it to the good one, and if you already are in a good mood, it will turn it to even better one. I definitely recommend mr. Omar Souleyman.

Agata Podbielkowska