Jazz it up: Arab musicians bring their songs to Germany

Singer Milo Kanefaty performs during an 'Arab Song Jam' concert in Berlin, Germany. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2017

Jazz it up: Arab musicians bring their songs to Germany

BERLIN: Arab musicians in Berlin are bringing their musical roots to Germans — with a little help from American jazz.
At the monthly Arab Song Jam in the German capital, musicians use famous Arab songs as a starting point before inviting other musicians onto the stage for a jam session in a style pioneered by American jazz musicians before World War II.
“All musicians know these jazz sessions. So we use that technique on Arab songs,” said Moroccan musician Alaa Zouiten, who plays the oud, and who led a recent session. “It is a great idea because it brings popular Arab songs to life here in Berlin.”
Berlin’s already large Arab community has grown since 2015 with the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees from Syria.
That has led to an increased interest in Arab culture and music in the city, said Philippa Ebene, CEO and artistic director of “Werkstatt der Kulturen” — the “Cultural Workshop” — where the jam sessions are held.
“We have all these new Berliners from the Arab world and they brought their music with them,” she said. “At the same time, Berlin is a city that is always hungry for new culture.”
The Arab Song Jam is part of a yearlong celebration of Arab culture at the venue, also including poetry readings and Arab film nights.
The first jam session was held in March and it has become so popular that the basement venue often has to close its doors because it has reached its capacity. The audience is mixed — elderly Arab couples mingle with young European hipsters and groups of curious, middle-aged Germans. “Is there a singer in the house?” Zouiten asks the crowd after the first song, and several people raise their hands.
Milo Kanefaty from Syria joins the musicians on the stage and as he sings the first words of a song by famous Lebanese singer Fairuz, the crowd cheers wildly and sings along. Soon people start dancing, hugging and applauding.
At other sessions, Germans from the audience also join in. While Zouiten said he does not want to turn the Arab Song Jam into a political event, he does hope the music will help break down barriers between migrants and Germans who remain concerned about the large influx of newcomers.


South Korean pop star Sulli found dead at her home

This undated photo released by Yonhap in Seoul on October 14, 2019 shows Sulli, a former member of top South Korean girl group f(x). (AFP)
Updated 16 min 6 sec ago

South Korean pop star Sulli found dead at her home

  • She recently appeared in a TV show and spoke out against online backlash she received over her lifestyle

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korean pop star and actress Sulli was found dead at her home south of Seoul on Monday, police said.
The 25-year-old was found after her manager went to her home in Seongnam because she didn’t answer phone calls for hours, said Kim Seong-tae, an official from the Seongnam Sujeong Police Department.
Kim said that there were no signs of foul play and that police did not find a suicide note.
“The investigation is ongoing and we won’t make presumptions about the cause of death,” said Kim, adding that security camera footage at Sulli’s home showed no signs of an intrusion.
In a statement sent to reporters, SM Entertainment, Sulli’s agency, said her death was “very hard to believe and sorrowful.”
Sulli’s legal name is Choi Jin-ri. She began her singing career in 2009 as a member of the girl band “f(x)” and also acted in numerous television dramas and movies.
She was known for her feminist voice and outspokenness that was rare among female entertainers in deeply conservative South Korea. She recently appeared in a TV show and spoke out against online backlash she received over her lifestyle.