Egyptian composer Fathy Salama and his band Sharkiat are celebrating the release of the new album 'Wahdani' with Algerian singer Karima Nayt at the Cairo Opera House on Sunday, 24 March, after over a decade of preparation.
"We went through dozens of musical rehearsals and concerts in Egypt and abroad until the project "Wahdani" crystallised," the Grammy Award winner Salama, who composed and arranged the whole album, told Ahram Online ahead of the concert.
"We spent a really long time to finalise the album. I worked a lot trying to make a new sound. What genre? Really does not matter. Art is beyond classifications," Salama added.
Many traditional Egyptian instruments such as the mizmar, arghul, rabab, marjouna, Nai, violin, Kanoon and various Arabic–Latin percussions are present in 'Wahdani' alongside guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and electronic music elements.
"'Wahdani' combines the experience of many Egyptian, Arab and international musicians in a project rooted in the depth of Arabic heritage, but at the same time very modern and contemporary," Salama added.
"I decided to work with her the moment I heard her voice"
After cooperating with the big names of Egypt's mainstream pop in the 1980s, like Amr Diab, Mohamed Mounir, Ali El-Haggar, Medhat Saleh and Anoshka, Salama formed his band Sharkiat, gaining fame in the global jazz scene.
Salama became a pioneer in the alternative music scene, supporting many currently famous bands and musicians, like Masar Egbari, Cairokee, Sharmoofers, Dina El-Wedidi, Mohamed Mohsen, Black Theama and many others, through his workshops and training programmes.
"I started collaborating with Karima in 2000 the moment I heard her singing some Algerian folk songs at the Cairo Opera House. I immediately admired her voice and decided to start a project with her," revealed Salama, adding that "Karima was my big inspiration to compose the music of 'Wahdani'. She is such a great, open, talented singer and writer. Also a successful dancer and actress, but most importantly, she has a good soul."
The album will be released this week on various music platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Anghami, in addition to YouTube, Facebook and other free streaming websites.
It was recorded and mastered at Ultra Sound Studio in Cairo by Alaa Al-Kashif, who also won a Grammy for his collaboration with Salama in 2004.
Diving headfirst into Fathy's musical universe
Except "Kodsia" that was written by Magdi Kamel, Karima Nait wrote all of the album's lyrics, expressing social concerns of the Arab street, singing in Algerian dialect in the Arabic, French and English languages.
Nayt, who started her career as a dancer as well as an actress both on film and on stage, moved to Cairo in 1998 to become a soloist-dancer in the Modern Dance Company of the Cairo Opera House, and a singer with Salama's Sharkiat.
"Diving headfirst into Fathy's musical universe I was able to dance most freely in improvisations and my writing, exorcising a deep loneliness buried in me. In him, maybe. In any other person who can recognise himself in Wahdani," stated Nayt.
"I met Fathy Salama at the Cairo Opera House where he was giving a concert with his band Sharkiat on one evening in Ramadan 2000. The following Thursday, I was on stage with them. I will never forget that first appearance in Beyt El Harraoui. It was the beginning of a new human and artistic adventure with Fathy Salama and Sharkiat that has allowed me to open my eyes to so many facets of myself and the musical world, and all that make them up," Nayt added.
Nayt has performed in festivals and on stages across the world, both as a singer and a dancer. Since she left Cairo in 2007, Nayt worked mostly in Europe, participating in different dance productions and recording her long-awaited solo album, Quoi d’Autre, produced in Sweden. The album won the prize for best CD of 2012 at the Swedish Folk & World Music awards, 2013.
At the Sunday concert, the duo will be accompanied by Sharkiat's Ayman Sedky (Latin percussions), Ramadan Mansour (Arabic percussion), Andre Segone (electric and acoustic bass), Mohamed Adel (guitar), Miguel Merino (drums) and feature violinist Nancy Mounir and rapper Damayan.
Sunday, 24 March, 8pm
Cairo Opera House, Small Hall
For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture