His Arabic nickname means "poet of the revolution." Generations of Palestinians have known the songs of 73-year-old Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh Mater, who is called Abu Arab.
Along with the Naji Al Ali Group, Abu Arab is performing in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor to raise awareness and funds for Palestinian refugees facing deportation from Canada (the Montreal performance will be the final one of the tour).
Rabie Masri of the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees explains why Abu Arab is perhaps the most popular Palestinian folk singer.
"His words reflect the reality of all Palestinians, especially those living in refugee camps," he says. Abu Arab, born to a peasant family of poets, fled Palestine in 1948 and has lived as a refugee in Syria since.
Folk music plays a central role in Palestinian culture and its long history of resistance. Abu Arab’s music places these ancient sounds in a current context.
Arabic and Palestinian instruments are sure to delight traditionalists and music nerds alike. The oud, for example, is a pear-shaped, fretless grandfather of the European lute; while the shabbabah is a simple reed flute, the yarghul is a wind instrument with two vibrating tubes played using a circular breathing technique.
Abu Arab’s appearance will serve as both a fundraiser and a reward for the groups and individuals who have been working tirelessly to organize community support for Montreal’s Palestinian refugees. Masri is looking forward to a lively, positive gathering. "We’re expecting this to be a very inspirational event."
Abu Arab and the Naji Al Ali Group at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, Concordia’s Loyola Campus (7141 Sherbrooke W.),
Feb. 6, 7 p.m.; to purchase tickets call (514) 591-3171 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.