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AUK Professor Dr. Lisa Urkevich's new CD brings Kuwaiti Sea Songs Back to Life

AUK Professor and Chair of the Department of Music and Drama, Dr. Lisa Urkevich, has produced and authored a CD and Booklet featuring the Hamid Bin Hussein Band, a premiere traditional ensemble of the Arabian Gulf. For over a decade, Dr. Urkevich has worked closely with Gulf musicians, recording hundreds of hours of their performances, and these newly released tracks are choice gems from that fieldwork. The audio files and text, entitled Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf, are published by Multicultural Media as part of the esteemed Music of the Earth series. Currently, these are the only recordings in the series from the Arabian Peninsula and thus they shine a special light on the artistic culture of Kuwait within the greater region.

The Arabian Gulf is one of the most musically vibrant areas of the entire peninsula. Over the centuries, many categories of arts have flourished, but it is the songs of the sea that have had a special place in the hearts of nationals. The musical color and texture of Upper Gulf music is unique in the Arab world, as large choirs of men join voices to sing heartfelt, haunting melodies over vibrant, percussive timbres. Until the early 20th century sea songs were heard constantly by the community, as they were sung for both work and recreation, on ship and shore, and during weddings and at standard late-night gatherings. When sea livelihood diminished, large "bands" began to form to keep the musical traditions alive. Today, less than a dozen authentic maritime music groups survive. Among the most lauded is the Hamid Bin Hussein Sea Band of Kuwait who are featured on these recordings. These men, who for the most part are descendants of pearlers and seamen, are cherished in the community, since their performances are both historical representations and impassioned art. The recordings and detailed booklet, with over 30 images, musical examples, and explanations of the performance structure, provide a significant glimpse into a precious music of an ancient culture.

The audio files and text of Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf are each sold separately and available digitally on ITunes, IBook, and Kindle among other online sites.

Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf produced by Dr. Urkevich

The CD Booklet includes musical transcriptions, lyrics, and images

Work songs as well as entertainment musical suites were important for maritime life

Dr. Urkevich preparing her recording equipment at the Bin Hussein diwaniyya (gathering place) in Kuwait

Dr. Urkevich and members of the Hamid Bin Hussein Band

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 17th September 2014

Photography by the Office of Public Affairs (C) 2014

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