"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Iraqi singer-songwriter Ilham Al Madfai is the voice of the oppressed people in Irak. 

Ilham performs with his full band and talks about his love for the lost city of Baghdad.

"The singer and guitarist Ilham al-Madfai - "born in the early Forties, you can say" (actually, he's 60) - is not surprised by this auditory absence. He may have been Iraq's biggest pop star, but that didn't mean that his music got much of an airing on official channels."

"Throughout three decades of singing, most of which coincided with the leadership of Saddam Hussein, his relationship with the Baathist regime was frosty at best, and dangerous at worst!"

"My brother was sentenced to death," he says, in the studios of Sensible Music in north London, where he recorded his latest album, Baghdad.

"For four years, the family was stuck. It was made almost impossible for Iraqis to leave the country, by a combination of pressure and exorbitant exit visas. So Ilham continued to make music, and kept his head relatively low. "I never joined the Baath party. I couldn't." 

"It made life difficult: his teenage son Mohamed wasn't allowed school books (which were only supplied by the school), because he wasn't Baath."

This song called Mohamed Bouya Mohamed is dedicated to his son Mohamed. Today, his son is his business manager.

"In early March - "on the ninth day of the war," he specifies, like someone who was counting - the group played at the House of Culture in Berlin. "Baghdad" was the last song, and the applause seemed to go on for ever. "It was about 15 minutes, actually," says Ilham's son Mohamed, now his very efficient business manager."

Ilham Al Madfai, has become a hero in his homeland for his mix of stirring, sad-edged traditional and self-penned songs backed with Middle Eastern instrumentation and a Western-influenced rhythm section


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