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Created with the goal of giving a snapshot of contemporary and traditional musics of the South West Asia North Africa (SWANA) region, Habibi Festival aims to take listeners on a journey of the sounds wafting through the airwaves and living rooms of cities spanning Marrakech to Baghdad. This new performing arts festival is a collaboration between saxophonist/composer/curator Yacine Boulares, artist/curator/producer Meera Dugal, and Director of Joe's Pub at the Public Theater Alex Knowlton, who are bonded by the goal of creating more joyful spaces for performance, conversation, and storytelling from the Arab world.
SCHEDULE AND LINEUP
Sun, Oct 1, 2023
Hadi Eldebek & Friends + Omar Offendum
Tues, Oct 3, 2023
Amal Murkus and Firas Zreik + Tarek Yamani and Yacine Boulares Quartet
Wed, Oct 4, 2023
Tarek Yamani and Yacine Boulares Quartet + Bab L’bluz
Thur, Oct 5, 2023
Nesrine + Bab L’bluz
Fri, Oct 6, 2023
Clarissa Bitar + Sofiane Saidi
Sat, Oct 7, 2023
Nesrine + Sofiane Saidi
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Hadi Eldebek & Friends
Hadi Eldebek is a musician from Lebanon based in New York City. He has collaborated with prominent figures and institutions in the Arts, Culture, and Education sectors, including Yo-Yo Ma's Silkroad Ensemble, Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Kennedy Center, TED, Disney World Imagineering, and others. Hadi is the artistic director of The Brooklyn Nomads, a cross cultural band rooted in Arabic music traditions. In addition to live performances, Hadi composed the music for two plays, Ismail Khalidi's Dead Are My People and Kholoud Sawaf's 10,000 Balconies. Hadi's TED talk discussing the importance of funding the arts and artists, which has gone viral with over 1.25 million views.
Ramzi Edlibi | Percussion, vocals
Omar Offendum is a Syrian-American rapper/spoken word artist. Known for his unique blend of hip-hop and Arabic poetry, he’s been featured on prominent world news outlets (Aljazeera, BBC, PBS, LA Times), lectured at a number of prestigious academic institutions (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Northwestern, UT-Austin, UCLA, SOAS, American University of Beirut), collaborated with major museums and cultural organizations (LACMA / Penn Museum / Ithra / Shangri-La / Arab-American National Museum), and helped raise millions of dollars for various humanitarian relief groups (Islamic Relief, Karam Foundation, Syrian-American Medical Society). Offendum was recently named a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, an Arab America Foundation "40 Under 40" award recipient, and a member of both the Pillars Fund cohort for Muslim Narrative Change and the RaceForward Butterfly Lab cohort for Immigrant Narrative Strategy. He currently resides in the great state of New York with his wife and two little children, while daydreaming about the jasmine tree-lined streets of Damascus.
Amal Murkus & Firas Zreik
Often known as the Voice of Palestine, Amal Murkus’s songs take inspiration from Palestinian folkloric themes as well as original compositions that feature elements of pop, rock, Western Classical, jazz and many global influences, creating a breath- taking modern and authentic sound.
Composer & Kanun player Firas Zreik has transformed global perception of the Kanun. His treatment of the instrument preserves its identity and stretches its potential as a cultural chameleon enhancing a range of fresh, evolving sounds.
The two have been collaborating in studios and live performances for the past decade, as Firas composed and produced many of Amal's recent songs; the mother-son duo will perform a set of rearranged selections from their repertoire as well as Palestinian folkloric tunes.
Tarek Yamani Quartet and Yacine Boulares
Lebanese pianist Tarek Yamani and French-Tunisian saxophonist Yacine Boulares come together in a new project that celebrates their mutual heritages. From Lebanese Dabke to the Tunisian traditions of Stambeli and Mezwed, the two musicians bring Arabic trance rhythms and the harmonic and melodic flexibility of Jazz together. For Habibi Festival they will premiere a new repertoire.
Yamani and Boulares are amongst a handful of Arabic musicians who have devoted their life to Jazz Music. Tarek Yamani lives between New York and Berlin and has been hailed a “trailblazing pianist” by CNN. Winner of the prestigious "Thelonious Monk Int'l Jazz Composers Competition" for his composition "Sama'i Yamani", Tarek has been part of 4 all-star global concerts of the International Jazz Day and shared the stage with luminaries such as Wayne Shorter, Richard Bona, Zakir Hussein, Esperanza Spalding, Antonio Sanchez, Brian Blade and Vinnie Colaiuta.
Described by RFI as “one of the most talented Jazzmen of his generation” Yacine Boulares has recently accompanied Archie Shepp for the re-creation of “the Cry of my people” at BAM and has worked with the likes of Placido Domingo, Nasheet Waits, Vincent Segal and Tabou Combo.
Bab L’ bluz are reclaiming the blues for North Africa. Fronted by a Moroccan woman in a traditionally male role, the band are devoted to a revolution in attitude which dovetails with Morocco’s ‘nayda’ youth movement – a new wave of artists and musicians taking their cues from local heritage, singing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic dialect of darija. Ancient and current, funky and rhythmic, buoyed by Arabic lyrics, soaring vocals and bass-heavy grooves, Nayda! seems to pulse from the heart of the Maghreb.
When Nesrine Belmokh and her trio NES emerged in 2018, the music world was taken by surprise and captivated by her unique fusion of voice, cello, and percussion. Her debut album "Ahlam" received widespread acclaim, bringing the Mediterranean region to life through her enchanting melodies. In her latest album, simply titled "Nesrine," she continues to showcase her personal and musical journey, seamlessly blending her North African roots with her European present. With a powerful voice and masterful cello playing, Nesrine's music transcends borders, effortlessly combining north african roots, pop, and jazz influences into a captivating and constantly shifting blend. Collaborating with producer/guitarist Vincent Huma and sound engineer Fab Dupont, Nesrine creates a complex musical world that retains the simplicity and warmth of her debut while introducing new influences. Her artistry is a reflection of her generation, where origins and stylistic boundaries define themselves through interaction, resulting in a captivating and authentic fusion of cultures that flows naturally.
Meet Clarissa Bitar, an award-winning Palestinian oud musician and composer, in an enchanting live show. Hailing from the vibrant city of Los Angeles, California, Clarissa's profound connection to their Palestinian heritage infuses their music with a unique soulful touch. A graduate in Music with a focus on Ethnomusicology from UC Santa Barbara, Clarissa's journey to mastery involved learning from the best, including prominent Arab oudists like Simon Shaheen, Charbel Rouhana, and Bassam Saba. Their show promises an exquisite blend of traditional folk songs that hark back to their roots, combined with original compositions inspired by their background as a traditional musician.
The press nicknamed him the Prince of Raï 2.0. The label makes him laugh. Yes, he grew up in Algeria. Yes, he landed 30 years ago in Paris. Since then, the musician never stops exploring new bridges, with his oriental roots, his heart open to all grooves, all sounds, to all worlds. His work with Acid Arab, released in the album "Musiques de France" on Crammed Discs, results in El Hafla: The party. The album was nominated for the Victoires de la Musique in 2016. After two albums - El Mordjan, and El Njoum with Mazalda, Sofiane continues collaborations: again Acid Arab with the title Rimitti d'Or, or Leila, Rodolphe Burger with the Mademoiselle project, he pays tribute to Rachid Taha by embodying the voice of raï alongside Jeanne Added, Christophe and Catherine Ringer. At the same time, he produces film music and lends his voice to many projects. Sofiane can't stop working! Now solo, his live show is a rare experience, a subversive exploration, a charge of erotic transgression, the raï soul in an electronic body.
Photo credit: Sachyn Mital
Thank you to our festival partners: Villa Albertine, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Afikra, and Tamizdat.
$40 (exclusive of ticket service fees)
For last-minute tickets, please visit our Box Office at 425 Lafayette Street. Web sales and phone sales end when doors open, and tickets may be available for in-person, walk-up sale right before the show begins.
Performing October 1
Photo credit: Ridwan Adhami
Performing October 3 & 4
Photo credit: Stefan Weber
Performing October 3 & 4
Photo courtesy the artist
Performimg October 4 & 5
Photo credit: Samadoss Maitoul
Performing October 5 & 7
Photo credit: Nerea Coll
Performing October 6
Photo credit: Virisa Yong
Performing October 6 & 7
Photo credit: Miguel Santos
Performing October 3
Photo credit: Ilan Besor
Performing October 3
Photo credit: Felicia Abban
Performing October 1
Photo courtesy the artist