Omar Souleyman was a prolific wedding singer with more than 500 live albums to his name before civil war broke out in Syria in 2011.
As his country became increasingly unstable, Souleyman fled to Turkey, where performing for couples tying the knot was no longer an option. Yet he continued to write songs of love and positivity as a welcome distraction from the horrors of war, and in the process found himself something of a star in the west.
“When I started out as a wedding singer, I never thought I’d be able to sing outside of Syria,” he says. “Especially for an audience that can’t understand the lyrics.” But that changed in 2007, when the US label Sublime Frequencies released Souleyman’s earlier recordings, and he developed a cult indie following, thanks in part to the riotously upbeat live show he has taken across Europe, Canada and Australia (whenever he can secure the relevant visas).
It is a success for which he is grateful, but one he is also slightly perplexed by – understandably, as Souleyman doesn’t fit into any traditional western pigeonholes.
Source: The Gaurdian