In 2007, MECO Proudly Presented this Festival:
A celebration of music and food from the Islamic world for all the family
AMEER KHAN QAWALI GROUP – Pakistan
Ustad Haji Ameer Khan is one of the finest exponents of Qawali in Britain today. The term qawali itself applies both to the musical genre and the occasion of its performance. Ameer Khan is the son of Ustad Latafat Hussain Khan who served as a mentor and teacher to the famous Sabri Brothers. Ustad Haji Ameer Khan and his brothers come from one of the Indian sub-continent’s oldest and most respected musical families. Since coming to Britain in 1991, they have been in the forefront of bringing traditional South Asian music to the UK. Aside from singing other repertoires, Ameer Khan’s group have concentrated on the traditional qawali, the intense devotional style associated with Sufi Muslims from the Indian sub-continent, which is now particularly well-known in the West due to the tremendous success of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and others. The Khan brothers are from Pakistan, born in Karachi, whose family have been musicians for seven generations. Ameer received his training from his brilliant elder brother. By 1977, at the age of six, the Khan Brothers had begun performing at weddings and community events in Pakistan. As a precocious teenager, Ameer Khan toured the world with his father performing in Europe and North America. Such is their enormous talent that they are equally at home performing sacred, classical and popular music that endears the audience to them.
HUSSEIN ZAHAWY – Iraq / Kurdistan
Hussein Zahawy was born in the ancient city of Kanaqin in Kurdish Iraq but spent most of his childhood in Shiraz in Iran. Coming from a traditional musical background, he was taught the daf (Kurdish frame drum) by his grandfather at age of three. Later, he pursued his interest in other Kurdish percussion instruments such as the Do-taple, Dohol, Tas and the Iranian Santur. At the age of thirteen, he was invited to join the first national radio and television orchestra of Kurdish music in Europe. Hussein has performed extensively as a soloist and accompanying groups and ensembles. He has collaborated with Greek, Turkish, Arab, Indian, Persian as well as Kurdish musicians producing several CD recordings in the process. He has performed on the world music circuit at places such WOMAD in U.K, WOMAX in Netherlands and the World Sacred Music Festival in Morocco. He holds regular workshops on Kurdish music and has participated in several TV programmes and documentaries on the subject. In 2000, he brought together for the first time ever musicians from all over Kurdistan with the aim of uniting the many diverse regional musical styles. This ensemble aims to perform worldwide and is dedicated to reviving Kurdish music and traditional culture. Hussein is the musical inspiration and director of this distinguished ensemble that is putting Kurdistan on the musical map. Partly, for this reason, he is currently pursuing a post-graduate degree in ethnomusicology at the School of Oriental and African studies, University of London.
AKASH SULTAN – Bangladesh
Akash Sultan has established himself as a musician to be taken seriously. He was born in the UK but went back to his ancestral origins in Bangladesh to learn about his own culture and language. Akash combines traditional Bengali music with contemporary techniques to create a unique and pertinent sound, which ‘keeps the music alive’. Although not from a musical family, Akash started learning voice and harmonium at the age of 9. His early influences ranged from classical and modern Bengali music to more traditional folk music and religious songs. At the age of 17, Akash obtained his diploma in classical music from the Sylhet Shilpokola Music Academy, by which time he had already started to perform on local and national radio throughout Bangladesh. Returning to his land of birth in 1992 to embark on further study, he says he was ‘desperate to do something in music’. To maintain his interest in music and to further his training, he enrolled with leading professionals such as Mahmudur Rahman Benu and Chandrima Misra. All this paid off when he won the All England Ghazal Competition in 1998. Nowadays, he is no stranger to the UK’s biggest venues, having played at Sadlers Wells, and at the Leeds Mela ‘the biggest festival of it’s kind in this country’. After a decade’s experience, Akash is now a master improviser and a recognized Bengali singer as well as totally versatile with other musical genres. Akash will be playing the harmonium and will be accompanied by Ashraf Uddin on the Tabla and by Sultan Monty on guitar.
MUSA MBOOB – The Gambia
Musa Mboob was born in Serrakunda in the Gambia, West Africa on 25th November 1963. His father is Doudou M’Boob the famous Gambian Master Percussionist. With a musical background going back six generations, Musa quickly mastered all traditional musical instruments including the kora and African drums. By his early twenties, he was a professional singer and playing the percussion. In 1988 he toured the Gambia and Senegal as a session musician with different bands and was recognized as the leading percussionist by the Gambian Ministry of Culture. At the age of 27 years, Musa was invited to England to record the album entitled Mboob Mbalahal, meaning Mboob playing the drum. He appeared on National and Cable Television and performed live on BBC World Service Radio and was interviewed in Rhythm Magazine. Musa appeared at the High Wycombe Festival and was filmed by BBC Television at his performances at several UK concerts and festivals. He recorded his second album called Jayulem with the Chossan Band. This was later followed by the release of a new percussion album entitled Takka Gi, meaning Wedding. In addition to his passion for music, Musa is also an active charity worker raising funds for educational computers and to encourage cultural exchanges between schools in UK and the Gambia.
ART FAZIL – Malaysia / Singapore
Art Fazil is a London based singer-songwriter originally from Singapore and Malaysia. Formerly from the well-known folk rock trio Rausyanfikir, Art Fazil relocated to the UK soon after the death of band member Esham Jamil in 1998. His multifaceted music is a mirror of his life, which began on a small farm in a Malaysian rainforest village. Learning to play through on his uncle’s guitar and lessons from a friend, Art’s father soon rewarded him with his very own instrument. He enjoyed everything from Bob Marley to the Rolling Stones to the sounds of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – all which have in common a cultural richness and depth that is present in his original thoughtful compositions. Art’s first song was recorded by Ramli Sarap (the Bruce Springsteen of Malay music) when he was still doing his A-levels! He later formed the folk-rock trio called Rausyanfikir and in 1992 their album sold 25,000 copies in Malaysia and Singapore alone. Their 1994 album was also successful, its single “Fikir Fikir” was awarded Best Local Malay composition in 1997. Aside from his popular and contemporary output, Art also has a deep and profound interest in traditional Malay culture and music. For him, religious music is a window into the soul and uplifting for the spirit. In addition to a spate of awards, Art has earned Professional Development credentials at the acclaimed Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London for his collaboration on ‘Song for the World’in 2002. Currently, Art co-presents a World Music programme for Radio Ria 89.7 FM called “Getaran Global Ria”.
THE PEARLS OF ISLAM – Jamaica / Britain
The Pearls of Islam is one of the few all-female Muslim groups in the UK. Led by two young Muslim women of Afro-Caribbean parentage and heritage, the Pearls of Islam have made a name for themselves in the British Muslim community. Rabiah, aged 20 and Sakinah, 18, perform a riveting mixture of nasheeds (Islamic devotional songs), rap, poetry and the spoken word accompanied by musical instruments ranging from the djembe to the aboriginal didge. Their varied work captures the attention of all types of audiences, non-Muslim and Muslim alike. They have been honoured to perform with Dawud Wharnsby Ali and have featured on the Islam Channel. The original nasheeds which the girls perform are in both English and Arabic and written with evident commitment to and love for their faith. Each composition has been worked on individually and expresses their reverence for Almighty God and the beloved Prophet Muhammad, as well as their respect for their spiritual teacher, Shakyh Muhammad Nazim. For them, love is the bind that binds the heart!
MANAR – Bosnia
Manar is composed of a group of three young and talented singers from Bosnia and Herzegovina. They perform a rare combination of spiritual and patriotic songs in Bosnian, Arabic and Turkish, languages which all form an integral part of their multicultural heritage in the Balkans. Ahmed Bajramovic, Enes Ramic and Alija Dzananovic have all graduated in Islamic Studies from the local Muslim College in their home town of Travnik in Bosnia. While studying for their degrees, they participated in various local, national and international events and competitions celebrating Islamic sacred music. They have gained fame as adroit artists singing nasheed or praise songs glorifying the majesty of God and his noble prophet. The members of Manar are currently study Islamic law at the European Institute of Human Sciences in Wales while at the same time bringing the beauty of Bosnian religious music to wider audiences throughout the UK.
SHADIA MANSOUR – Palestine
Shadia Mansour is a young and talented Palestine singer who currently lives in London. Her melodic voice and lyrics focuses on the struggle of her people to be free. Shadia’s songs talk of love and justice, of peace and harmony for all. Using religious rhythms and traditional folk songs as the basis of her repertoire, she infuses her haunting music with passion and pertinence. Her performance stresses the common pain and suffering experienced by people of different religions but the same God. Her best known track is called Asfur, meaning Bird. It tells about a young Palestinian boy who is forced to leave his home and ends up in a Jewish girl’s place.
She asks him “where do you come from?”
He says “I come from the borders of the sky”
She says “where are your feathers gone?”
He says “Time has scattered them away”
BURHANIYA TARIQA – Sudan
The Arabic word tariqa (pl. turuq) means path or way, and also refers to a mystical order or a Sufi community. The Burhaniya Tariqa originates in the 13th century and was revived in the early 20th century by the Sudanese Shaykh Mawlana Mohamed Osman Abdu al Burhani (1902-1983). Under his inspirational leadership and that of his son and grandson, the order has spread widely in the West. It is now regarded as one of the leading Sufi fraternities in Europe and North America. Somewhat unique, the Burhaniya is a Sufi order for both women and men. They follow the Sufi path that defines all aspects of their daily life and worship. There are many Burhaniya Sufi centers (zawiya) around the world, including London where members meet to pray, to learn, to celebrate and to socialise. In this context, religious music and devotional songs play an important and intrinsic role in Sufi spirituality. The order’s choir, who come from the Sudan, will be accompanied by African drums while singing a medley of liturgical songs glorifying the Divine and praising the Prophet Muhammad. Under the leadership of Tawfiq Mohamed, the Burhaniya choir will perform songs extolling the glory of God as the Lord and Creator of the Universe and the Ultimate Truth. They will also honour and eulogise the Prophet Muhammad and conclude with rhythmic hymns about the supreme power and infinite compassion of Almighty God.
GRUP SAZ – Turkey
This diverse and talented trio of musicians plays a medley of Turkish folk and religious music from Anatolia and other parts of Turkey. Led by Erser Ebcin on keyboards, the trio will perform a variety of Muslim and folkloric songs from that part of the world. Of Turkish ancestry, Eser was born in London in 1976 and studied music at college. Currently, he works in mymuzik band as a keyboard player as well as collaborating with other well-known Turkish, Arab and Muslim artists and bands. Ali el-Minyawi is an is an accomplished percussion player who was born in 1982. From his base in London, Ali has made a name for himself amongst the traditional music-loving segment of the British Muslim community. Like other prominent instrument players in the mymuzik band, Ali often cooperates with professional singers from the Middle East. Erol Orhan, who is a noted woodwind player, is the final member of the trio. He was born in Turkey where he attended Gazi University and graduated with a diploma in Turkish folk and Sufi music. He now teaches music at his alma mater and also performs at musical venues both inside and outside of Turkey.
MUSTAPHA EL-BAHJA BAND – Morocco
The Mustapha El Bahja Band hails from Morocco and is named after its dynamic and versatile founder who was born in Marakesh, the artistic heart and soul of this Western-most Arab country. Ever since his arrival in Britain in 1988, Mustapha has been in the forefront of presenting the very best of Moroccan popular and religious music to receptive audiences in London and elsewhere in the UK. Accompanied by three other members of his troupe, Mustapha el-Bahja is the main vocalist and plays the hajhouj, which gives the distinctive sound to the group’s musical output. Mustapha Marrakshi plays the krakish, a traditional musical instrument while Rashid, whose ancestral home is in Casablanca, is a deft performer on Arabic drums, darbukav. Saeed plays the violin and the traditionalBandir. The band will perform a broad medley of religious and folkloric music including the classical affirmation of faith, ‘La illa-ha illal-lah’ (there is no deity except God) and other songs praising the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, as well as moving tributes and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad. These customary Islamic folk songs and religious music all holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Moroccans, particularly as the country combines the finest fusion of African and Arab musical rhythms and lyrics.
ALI JALI FILY – Senegal
Virtuoso Kora Player and Praise Singer (a Griot), Ali Jali Fily is a noted Mandinkan Griot who originates from Ziguinchor in Senegal. The Griots in West Africa are professional hereditary musicians who advised and entertained the monarchs of Mali, Ghana and Songhai throughout history. Fily was born into the famous family of Griots – Cissokho – and was taught to play the kora (a 21 string African Harp) at the age of 6 by his illustrious father and older brother. At the age of 13, this tempestuous and talented teenager formed his own group, Coute Diomboulo that won him early fame. He later performed as a solo artist all over his homeland. His compositions and skilful mixing of the rhythms of south and north Senegal took him to the capital Dakar where he sang and played the kora in a more professional setting with other groups and bands, superbly blending traditional skills with modern sounds. He first came to Europe in 2002 touring with the family group Jalikunda. His recent UK appearances have included the prestigious WOMAD, Glastonbury and Larmer Tree Festivals. His artistic versatility enables him to deliver not only his traditional music but also to combine a unique religious and spiritual output effortlessly by fusing his classical training with his contemporary skills.
This event took place at the Rover (Cowley) Sports and Social Club on Sunday, 8 July 2007 from 12 noon to 10 pm