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Arts and Culture News

Marcel Khalife, 'Dylan of the Middle East'

Oud virtuoso Marcel Khalife.
Oud virtuoso Marcel Khalife.

Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife is known throughout the world as an artistic revolutionary and cultural icon... though not in the United States. Khalife, master of the oud, an Arabic lute, hopes to change that on his current American tour.

As NPR's Neda Ulaby reports, Khalife is sometimes called "the Bob Dylan of the Middle East." His numerous fans sing along to every song. His intense and emotional songs seem to have a power beyond mere words and music.

Khalife combines ancient Arabic musical traditions with Western elements and instruments, including piano and upright bass.

Khalife is touring the U.S. through mid-November with a band that includes his two sons. Pianist Rami recently graduated from Juilliard and his brother Bachar is a percussionist.

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