Islamic songs face myriad challenges in Arab world
By Rizwan Khatik - Sat Aug 13, 1:13 pm
This is more evident by the tremendous response to video clips of songs by some prominent Arab singers aired by satellite channels.
These singers can also draw packed audiences at various art and music festivals across the world. Despite all these positive factors, Islamic songs are still moving through a rough path, confronting various challenges and difficulties that stand in the way of their fast growing popularity.
Arab News talked to a number of eminent Islamic singers, including renowned artist Mousa Mustafa, who came to Jeddah to attend various programs and festivals.
They spoke at length about the various elements of Islamic songs and the major challenges facing this art form.
They also covered topics such as the production of video music albums, public response toward Islamic songs, and the influence of modern technology and voice modulation techniques in the production of albums.
“As Islamic artists, we face several hurdles while pursuing our career,” said renowned Islamic singer from Iraq Muhammad Al-Ghazzawi.
“The major challenge I face is the difficulty in traveling to various countries because of my nationality. The complications for travel procedures as an Iraqi citizen have deprived me of golden chances to attend several major international festivals held in various countries.”
He added that he also missed the opportunity to get to know the various forms of Islamic art in those countries as well as meet personally with the local Islamic singers and artists.
Osama Al-Safi, a singer from the UAE, said Islamic devotional songs have triggered a controversy that threatens the art form.
“As far as video clips are concerned, their success depends on whether the ideas match the songs and the location in addition to the type of cameras used,” he said.
Regarding the public response toward the Islamic moral and religious songs (Nasheed), a spokesman for the Saudi Innovation team said: “There has been a growing response from the public to this art form even though it was not well known in the music world. All sections of society, including elders and youngsters, embrace this art form. Most of these singers use lyrics composed by prominent Islamic poets and writers who deal with a number of major social issues. They include lyrics by Ahmad Balghasoun, Salim Abdul Qader, Badar Al-Abnawi and Ojlan Thabit.”
On the major challenges facing these artists, the spokesman said: “Most television channels are not giving sufficient air time to this form of music. There is also a shortage in the production of Islamic songs. Moreover, there is no collective working strategy and a clear vision for the Islamic singers.”
He added that most of these singers do not have an academic background mainly because of the absence of any specialized institutes for them. The team’s first album “Mokhtalef” was a tremendous success and was second only to the album “Dikrayat” by Moshari Al-Afasi in sales.
Echoing the same view, Ayman Halaj, a Jordanian artist, said the most important hurdle they face concerns production. He said that it is very difficult to find producers who share the artist’s vision.
Referring to modern techniques and voice modulation, Al-Safi said: “There are two schools of thought with regard to the production of religious songs. One prefers not to use any musical instruments while the second uses all available means, including instruments. There is no doubt that modern technology would enable artists to perform in the best possible way.”
He added, however, that there is no advantage to using musical instruments if the talent was not there and that a natural performance is more enjoyable than the one with embellishments.
Regarding interaction with production companies, Mousa Mustafa, an artist from Syria, said: “As artists, we face difficulties in our dealings with production companies. We tried to conclude agreements with companies such as Rotana, but to no avail. They treat us as Islamic artists who are not popular in the circles of music. Therefore, most often these companies commercialize our art and then market them, or at least produce video albums out of our work.” He suggested companies also fail to pay any royalties to the artists.
On his part, Turkish artist Masud Kortes is of the view that most video clips of music albums aired by channels are worthless. People want original music and songs that can impart in them guiding thoughts and provide them a pleasant atmosphere with its sweet words, he added.