Arab music enthusiasts in the Santa Barbara area were treated to two exciting performances by the Egyptian pop sensation HAKIM on February 23.  Accompanied by a 16-piece band including keyboards, nay, accordion, horns and percussion, the star of sha’bi music began in the afternoon at UCSB’s music building with an intimate performance to a crowd of mostly students, in an event sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and Prof. Scott Marcus of the Music Dept.



     In Egypt and in European capitals, Hakim plays to sold out auditoriums and stadiums.  His CDs have sold more than 6 million copies.  His music combines popular Arab musical motifs with modern rock beats and rhythms in an unusual blend creating his own distinctive sound that has become known as sha’bi music (sha’bi means “of the people” or “popular”).


     At the UCSB performance, the band jammed with Middle east Music Ensemble student musicians in a lengthy warm-up.  Then Hakim came out and sang in his energetic style to the delight of the audience.  Two of UCSB’s belly dancers were encouraged to hit the dance floor to the feverish rhythms of Hakim’s drum section.  Interaction between the performers and audience was close, and the event seemed more like a party than a concert.  After the show, fans had the opportunity to meet this huge star of Egyptian music.


     Santa Barbarans were given another opportunity to hear Hakim’s vibrant sound that evening as he rocked the Borders Books and Music Store in nearby Goleta.  Hundreds of people crowded between the bookshelves to enjoy the music.  His band again warmed up the audience with its lively renditions of Umm Kulthum songs and had fans dancing in the aisles of the store.  Hakim came on and sang three powerful songs in the sha’bi style for which he is famous, while fans danced, clapped and even sang along.  It was an altogether thrilling performance.  Afterwards, Hakim met with fans and autographed copies of his latest CD.

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