Who doesn’t love country music? Well there’s actually a good number of people that don’t but there are also a lot of people that do, and I’m one of them. Country music is definitely unique to the United States in that it doesn’t resemble any other form of music and its lyrics usually pertain to subjects related to our culture and country. So I began to question whether or not people from the Middle East could appreciate country music and after some research it turns out they can!
Kareem Salama is a 32 year old musician born in Oklahoma to Egyptian immigrants and in 2010 he completed a country tour of 7 countries in the Middle East region. Salama’s music is different from normal country music because he combines his Arabic roots with his country upbringing which creates a very unique sound that has had a positive reception by most listeners. You can get a little taste for his music here:
What I found most interesting about his tour of the Middle East was that it was sponsored by the U.S. State Department. They funded the tour in an attempt to improve Middle Eastern opinion of the U.S. by showing that we have a diversity of religion and heritage that can be appreciated by everyone. Salama describes his goal with his music as such:
“The messages I try to focus on — and I think it’s sort of the focus of country music generally — is just values: family values, love, kindness, things like that.”
On top of playing at public and private venues, Salama and his band also did work for local communities and interacted with youth organizations. The tour overall was a success in that it received positive reviews from listeners. Salama has also been sponsored by the State Department to perform in Europe in countries such as England, Fance, and Italy. He has been featured in major news outlets such as New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Reader’s Digest, Fox news, Sky News and France 24. On top of releasing three albums, he has been invited to a dinner at the White House where he met President Barack Obama. So it is clear that although he hasn’t made a lot of money during his career, he has had a significant impact on the Middle Eastern opinion of the U.S. and how we as Americans view people from the Middle East. Everyone enjoys music and when you find someone who has a similar taste as you do, you tend to bond with that person more than you would have otherwise. I truly appreciate what Kareem Salama and the State Department are doing. I think it is a very creative idea that left the mess that politics tend to have behind. I hope that some people continue to listen to his music and are receptive to his message.
What did you guys think of the song and/or music video? Do you like that the State Department funded this? Let me know what you think below!