29 October 2008

Film: Arabic Music in America

Music fans of many genres know the name Miles Copeland. He's the brother of Police drummer Stewart Copeland, manager of that fairly successful band, creator of I.R.S Records, and for a time, the man behind Ark 21 Records, which brought to the West the sounds of the Arab world, including releases by Hakim, Khaled, and Cheb Mami.

Now Copeland has a PBS special, called Dissonance and Harmony: Arabic Music Goes West. Here's a teaser:






Of the project, Copeland says in a Spinner interview: ""One of my ideas was basically to invert their idea of taking Jon Bon Jovi to Riyadh and give everyone American flags to wave. I said, "Get a big Arabic star and bring him over and get screaming Americans and show over there how much we appreciate them."

The film features music from Egyptian pop star Saad El Soghayar, Jordanian composer Tareq Al Nassar, Lebanonese hip-hopper Wael Kodeih, Lebanese activist Tania Saleh, and Iraqi musical legend Ilham Al Madfai.

"The movie will have a great message [in the Arab world]," Copeland says. "For Arabs watching, they'll go, 'Americans are OK, they don't hate us. We have common ground.' And Americans watching will see Arabs in a whole different light. So this is one of those 'bridge' movies. And it is interesting musically, to see how music happens, while it works as a message that there's more to Arabs than what we get on TV."

Dissonance and Harmony: Arabic Music Goes West airs on PBS stations Nov. 2. Check your local listings for details.
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