Some 500 studio and live albums have been released under Omar Souleyman's name, though only two have surfaced in the U.S.
Laqtuf Ward Min Khaddak [I Will Pick a Flower from Your Cheek]
We recently launched a brand-new music series to kick off summer, called You Must Hear This. We've invited musicians from all genres — rock, country, jazz, hip-hop, classical, bluegrass — to share a piece of music that they love, that inspires them, that they listen to again and again. And we've asked them to tell us why.
The first time I heard Omar Souleyman was on YouTube. He's from Syria. Some people call what he plays Syrian techno.
I think what's refreshing about Omar Souleyman is the party — it's fun. It's really alive and very urgent. And he's not above using synths, electronics, drum machines and YouTube. He's really eager to make something that's vibrant today.
I always heard interesting stories that he has one man called Mahmoud Harbi who is a longtime collaborator — he writes poems for Souleyman. When they are really warmed up and going for it at a good-times party, Harbi stands next to him on stage and chain-smokes. Then he will whisper poetry in his ear that he's writing at the moment. Omar will sing it immediately in the microphone and run around the room, exciting people there. I thought it was quite exciting for a poet and an emcee to work together.
You Must Hear This is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Frannie Kelley. Bob Boilen produced and mixed this piece for All Things Considered.