If you happen to be in the Detroit area on October 1, be sure to stop in at our Affiliate, the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in nearby Dearborn, to hear Smithsonian Folkways, Grammy-nominated, oud virtuoso Rahim Alhaj. Alhaj performs in conjunction with the opening of the museum’s new Connecting Communities exhibition and as part of the ongoing Global Thursdays performing arts series.
Alhaj is considered one of the world’s masters of the oud, a pear-shaped, stringed instrument, often seen as the predecessor of the western lute. Born in Iraq, Alhaj studied at the prestigious Baghdad Conservatory of Fine Arts, under the renowned Munir Bashir. His opposition to the rule of Sadadam Hussein led to imprisonment and thirteen years of exile in Jordan and Syria before coming to the United States in 2000 under a UN refugee resettlement program. Now a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Alhaj teaches, composes, and maintains an active performing schedule throughout North America and around the world.
The Smithsonian Folkways recording When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq, featuring Alhaj and Lebanese-born percussionist Souhail Kaspar, received a 2008 Grammy nomination in “The Best Traditional World Music Album” category. The Los Angeles Times called the album “a convincing affirmation of an embattled area of the world,” and another critic likened Alhaj’s oud playing to “god breathing life into clay.”
AANM was established to bring the voices and faces of Arab Americans to mainstream audiences, and works to dispel misconceptions about Arab Americans and other minorities. Opened in 2005, the museum has received widespread acclaim for its architecture, exhibitions, and educational programming.
We look forward to the upcoming event when the museum and the musician join forces for what guarantees to be an unforgettable evening.
Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution offers Affiliates savings on recordings at www.folkways.si.edu. Enter code SIAFFILIATE during checkout and save 10% on any purchase. From the Oud mastery of Rahim AlHaj and other international music to traditional American folk music from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, and children’s favorites by Ella Jenkins and Elizabeth Mitchell, Smithsonian Folkways presents a world of sound that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”