By: Ahmed Mansour
After struggling for years as underground artists, these three Indie acts have made a success of their careers and have come out on top.
In 2002, two Nubian would-be actors, Amir Salah Eldin and Mohamed Abdo, came together because they had the same skin color and loved music. Under the name Charisma, they started playing music and working on their own original tracks.
But it wasn’t until 2004, when they met fellow Nubian Ahmed Bahr, that they became really motivated to take music as a career, and created Black Theama. At their first two gigs at Sawy Culture wheel, audiences loved them.
“We refuse to categorize ourselves in a certain genre or target a certain audience. What we do is try as much as we can is to introduce all kinds of genres to all kinds of people, to the mother taking her children to school, to a microbus driver who knows nothing about reggae, jazz, or rap,” says Salah Eldin, one of the lead vocalists of the now 11-member band.
Over the course of their career, one of the hurdles they have faced was not finding places where they could play their music and reach large audiences. “But we overcame this obstacle by the use of social media and word of mouth,” says Salah Eldin. “We were happy, and a little surprised even, when the number of people who attended our concerts increased and they sang along to almost all of our songs.”
If they must be pigeonholed, Black Theama would prefer to be classified as a “humanitarian band,” even though they claim to be the first act to involve politics in their songs in Egypt; in their hit songs “Zahma” and “Sheraton” (2009). But since the revolution they have decided to steer clear of politics, refusing to be part of the bandwagon releasing “the stream of political songs by local bands and musicians.”
Instead, band members say, they’re able to fill venues around the country by virtue of musical skill and innovation, backed by meaningful lyrics.