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Friday, February 24th marks the start of the Winter/Spring 2017 edition of the Arab American National Museum’s (AANM) Global Fridays concert series. Global Fridays is an opportunity for music lovers around the region to build community while learning about music, culture and what diversity in Metro Detroit is all about. Featuring funk/rock group Sinkane, whose music is infused with both East and West African influences, Iraqi composer Rahim AlHaj, Latin percussionist Sammy DeLeon and Sudanese American Producer and MC Oddisee, this season's Global Fridays lineup is an opportunity to celebrate and learn about the rich ethnic identities that make up Metro Detroit and the varying cultural heritages found throughout the United States. 

Since 2005, the AANM has worked tirelessly to highlight the political, economic and social contributions of Arab Americans and other minorities in the United States; Global Fridays is a successful extension of that mission. While the concert series has changed over time, the goal of bringing people together to celebrate the arts has remained constant. 

“Most of our current shows are born out of partnerships with other local organizations of color, working from the ground up to ensure utmost authenticity and inclusivity,” explained Kathryn Grabowski, the Humanities Programming Coordinator at the museum. 

Audience Photo Noura Mint SeymaliAudience enjoying a Global Fridays performance by Noura Mint Seymali. Photo by Houssam Mchaiemch.There is no denying the current political climate is one of misunderstanding, tension and fear. With that, it becomes even more important to bring people together. With an event such as Global Fridays, the Arab American National Museum is actively creating much needed safe spaces for marginalized voices to be heard. 

“We believe that, in order to tell the Arab American story, it is important to be inclusive of voices of many other communities that make up this American landscape—especially communities that have faced oppression, discrimination, and the like,” Grabowski said.  

“When planning this season, we had no idea that three of the four artists would represent banned countries,” she said, referring to the recent executive order from President Trump barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.  “Though this was not by design, we always have been, and continue to proudly counter any negativity that impacts minority communities by highlighting their voices and giving them a safe space to tell their stories. It’s really part of the DNA of who we are.” 

2017 Winter/Spring LineupSinkane 2Sinkane

Friday, February 24th: Sinkane 
Incorporating many different musical styles and rhythmic influences from places such as Sudan and Western Africa, Sinkane brings all sorts of musical versatility driven by an irresistible groove. On tour to promote the recently released Life and Livin’ It, the band will be in top form. Prior to the show, frontman Ahmed Abdullahi Gallabd will lead a youth workshop focused on art and identity. 

Friday, March 24th: Rahim AlHaj, Letters from Iraq with the Michigan Philharmonic 
Iraqi-born, Grammy-nominated composer and Oud player Rahim Alhaj presents his 2017 Smithsonian Folkways record, Letters from Iraq. In this moving composition, Alhaj uses written letters to tell the stories of people caught in war-torn Iraq. Joined by the Michigan Philharmonic, this is sure to be a night of powerful music and storytelling.  

Friday, April 21st: Sammy DeLeon + His Latin Jazz Ensemble  
If you’re looking for a night of upbeat merengue, salsa and non-stop clave rhythms, this is the night for you. Percussionist Sammy DeLeon and his band will be at the museum highlighting the rich tradition of Latin music. There will be a salsa dance workshop prior to the show. 

Friday, May 26th: Oddisee 
The final installment of Global Fridays will feature Oddisee, the Sudanese American hip hop artist in partnership with We Found Hip Hop. Oddisee has one of the more entertaining live shows and this is sure to be a performance full of heavy beats, fast rhymes and a socially conscious message that he has honed during his decade-long career. Oddisee will be at the AANM as a part of the world tour promoting his most recent album, The Iceberg

All Global Fridays performances take place at the Arab American National Museum and begin at 8pm. Tickets are $15; $10 for museum members. For more information or tickets, click here.