Friday, December 28, 2007

Kufiyaspotting #28: Khaled

I've been meaning to write about Khaled's kufiya for a long time, and finally found a photo. In winter 2002, shortly after the events of 9/11, music promoter Miles Copeland organized a very successful tour for three Arab artists who recorded for his (now-defunct) label, Mondo Melodia. The tour featured rai star Khaled, Egyptian sha'bi vocalist Hakim, and Palestinian-American 'ud and violin master Simon Shaheen. The tour served as a kind of coming-out party for Arabs in the US, who made up a significant and enthusiastic component of the audience in many locales. In a sense, the concerts represented a public validation for Arab popular culture, in the wake of several months of intimidation hanging over Arabs and Muslims in the wake of 9/11.

At the New York concert, an audience member threw a black-and-white kufiya onstage, and Khaled put it on and wore it for the remainder of the concert. A significant gesture, especially in light of the fact that Khaled is frequently depicted as "apolitical."

I write about this event, the tour, and the reception of Arab music in the US post-9/11 in an article published in Middle East Report (Fall 2002), called "The Post-September 11 Arab Wave in World Music," and at greater length in an article published in Anthropologica called "The 'Arab Wave' in World Music after 9/11." (Unfortunately, neither is available online.)

Alas, the demise of Mondo Melodia has meant that less Arab pop music is being released in the US...

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