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Kadim Al Saher - Ya Rayeh Ila Lebnan

from Arabian Masters (The Golden Age) by Various

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With the invasion of Iraq in April 2003, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime and the continuing unrest in that nation it is easy to forget that for thousands of years Iraq has been home to music of great beauty. Yet listen to Kazem Al-Sahir, currently the world's most popular Iraqi singer, and you will recognise the continuing artistry of that ancient nation.

Kazem was born in 1961 in the ancient northern Iraqi city Al-Mousel. At the age of eleven Kazem acquired his first oud after having sold his bicycle. He quickly mastered the instrument and began composing poems he could sing while playing. This, alongside reciting verses from the Qur'an as well as performing songs by eminent artists like Mohammad Abdelwahab and Fairuz, established him as a gifted young performer. In 1980 he started teaching music. Two years later he pursued studies at the Institute of Music of Baghdad.

Kazem continued to compose songs and in 1987 his original composition Ladghat El-Hayya earned him fame across Iraq and the Gulf region. A year later he hit with Abart El-Shat which further extended the radius of his popularity to cover more Arab countries.

His musical career was hindered by the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1990. Kazem moved to Lebanon to pursue his musical ambitions. Lebanon is the home to many of the greatest Arab artists and its liberal, creative mindset was perfect for Kazem. Through his songs and titles Kazem was able to champion the Iraqi people while they suffered under Saddam's rule and Western sanctions. His fine voice, superb oud skills and ability to write songs to suit many moods – nostalgic, angry, romantic – quickly established Kazem as a major star across the Arab world.

Kazem formed a songwriting partnership with noted Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani in 1996. This has lead to some of the finest Arabic music of recent years. While Kazem has yet to try and make an impact with Western world music audiences, from Cairo to Mecca, Kazem is regarded as one of the great artists of contemporary Arabic music.


from Arabian Masters (The Golden Age), released May 5, 2021


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