Fusion

Meet country-western singer Kareem Salama (here’s his web site).

He’s from Ponca City, Oklahoma and his parents are from Egypt. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering and is a Muslim. He was an amateur boxer and painter. And now he’s in law school.

I don’t love country music, but I love this guy’s voice. And his eyes are blacker than black.

In this interview on Fox News you can hear his Oklahoma drawl.

The Fox News talking head is amazed that a Muslim can be a country singer.

Here’s a Christian Science Monitor article about him from early last year.

Salama’s attempt to break into country music may seem bizarre to many outsiders. Even his guitarist/producer Aristotle Mihalopoulos – himself the son of Greek immigrants – admits it’s a little odd: “He’s doing country influenced music as a Muslim and has one of the thickest Southern accents I’ve ever heard.”

“It doesn’t feel strange to me,” says Salama. “But it certainly is a novelty for other people to see someone who’s Muslim and whose family didn’t grow up here getting into something like this.”

It’s also fairly normal from his family’s perspective, he says. Though his parents grew up in Egypt, they spent most of their adult lives in the US and raised Kareem and his two brothers and a sister in Oklahoma and Texas. Most of them enjoy country music. But, he adds, “that I’m choosing to put together a CD and go around performing the music … might be a step outside the norm.”

Though most country music fans would tell you nothing is more American, the genre has a reputation for being ultra patriotic, often to the point of bigotry.

In a song about the virtues of tolerance, for example, Salama quotes the noted Islamic scholar and poet Imam Shafi’ee’s version of the turn-the-other-check proverb: “I am like incense; the more you burn me the more I’m fragrant.” Like most of Salama’s music, the song emphasizes dealing peacefully with people in an evenhanded manner.

“I don’t like to be preachy,” he says. “My ideas and thoughts change all the time. So for me to preach something very adamantly and try to force a view down someone’s throat implies that I’m very confident. I change my views all the time, especially being a young man.”

And here’s a really neat video to one of his songs:

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Filed under arab, art, Islamic relations, music

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