Sherefe is a Boulder, Colorado based band which plays popular dance & folk music from the Balkans and the Middle East: Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Lebanon.
Sherefe Members Include:
James Hoskins on cello, zurna, riq, vocals;
Jesse Manno on bouzouki, percussion, flutes, saz, vocals;
Zahara on percussion;
Cameron Powers on oud, bouzouki, guitar, vocals.
The Habibis are: Ariana Saraha, Marta Aarli, Leila, and Kristina Sophia.
Sherefé performs frequently in the Denver-Boulder region at concerts and dance parties for both American and ethnic audiences.
Sherefé uses instrumentation which allows them to play the ancient modal scales of Egypt and Turkey. These scales, or "maqams", are each a vehicle for a particular emotional content: in effect a vast expansion of the major/minor distinction of European music.
Sherefé members have travelled and studied music in Egypt, Greece and Turkey as well as at Balkan and Middle Eastern Music camps presented on both the west and east coasts of this country.
Sherefé (pronounced "sheriff 'A'") is a Turkish phrase used as a drinking toast which means "to your honor."
Habibi (pronounced "habeebee" means "my love" in arabic.
Bravo to Sherefe and the Habibis
I am writing an unsolicited endorsement for, and tribute to, an awesome performance by a local Middle Eastern dance and music group called Sherefe and the Habibis. They played at the Boulder Theatre on June 7.
I arrived tired and wired from a long week. It turned out to be such a rejuvenating experience!
Sherefe is a tight, eight-member band playing a variety of instruments, like bouzouki, oud, saz, gadulka, cello, ney, dumbek hand-drums, and a full western drum set. Boy, could they sing and drum. The music was totally and enthusiastically Middle Eastern and Balkan. The songs and lyrics transported us to Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Persia, Bulgaria. The musicians, every one of them, were charismatic, and joyfully playing what they loved. Their enthusiasm was infectious.
The dancers were extraordinary: dazzling with their scarves and glittering metal adornments. They sang beautifully, and danced that mesmerizing, sensual Middle Eastern dance with the hallmark almost supernatural muscle control. They danced with whirling silk, with a snake, with a sword, with passion, with pathos. Their solos variously evoked sensuality, heartbreak, yearning, exuberance, playfulness and tantric spirituality. They even sang a piece that evoked the vibrancy of the Bulgarian Women's Choir. Their special guests were simply jawdropping.
There were at least as many enthusiastic female as male fans. It felt like this was an environment that honored, celebrated even, women and their power. I was right in front of the stage, in the dance area. Sometimes we danced, and sometimes we just sat, awestruck by one of the Habibis, or their guest dancers, weaving her complex spell of mood, gesture and undulation.
The crowd was exuberant and friendly. I felt bathed in a multisensory experience of music, participation and spectacle. I was rejuvenated. The price was right. Why go get therapy when you can do this? Bravo and kudos to you, Sherefe, Habibis, Boulder Theatre and KGNU!
I feel so blessed that I live near a town that supports this kind of event.
CHRYSTOS B. MINOT
From Local Boulder Newspaper: The Daily Camera
Saturday, June 23, 2001
So often after we play people say, "I don't think I've ever heard this kind of music before, but it touched me as though it was something my soul knew long ago and has been thirsting for..." ...or they say something like that...
Why is this?
Here's what I think, and it has to do with why I haven't gotten very excited about being a songwriter myself: when we learn a traditional or a popular Middle Eastern or Balkan melody we are tapping into an ancient modal system of music. What can I say? Centuries of evolution have been involved with creating these melodic forms. The ways the tunes spiral in their symmetrical patterns; the ways the pauses and silences are interspersed; the standards of musicianship that lead to the continuous wave-form pitch shifting melody lines all happen in accordance with musical formulas which have evolved to maximize emotional stimulation. When I learn one of these songs I feel so honored to be exposed to the internal world of this music that the more modern European & American styles or the compositions I could imagine myself coming up with seem unmasterful by comparison. What is this? I suppose I would have to say that this music has evolved in a rich spiritual context where popular and devotional styles intermingle. The result leaves the audience, especially a dancing audience, experiencing the wide open portals that allow ecstatic energies to move through them. So there you have it. That's what I think. Of course I'm biased toward appreciation of my own favorite styles. But based on the historical records which can give a glimpse into musical history, these Middle Eastern brands of melody have been steadily developing for the last 1200 years at least. Al Farabi, the 8th century Arabic historian, shows us some basic finger positions on the oud in his texts which appear to illustrate the maqam (mode) "rast."
Popular American music is finally incorporating some of the gorgeously romantic melody lines of the Middle East. Lorena McKenna & Natasha Atlas, for example, are incorporating fragments of popular Egyptian and Turkish songs into their latest recordings.