In pics: US American Music Abroad brings T Sisters’ indie folk to Egypt

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Sun, 07 Apr 2019 - 09:58 GMT

“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

CAIRO – 7 April 2019: American Music Abroad (AMA) program sponsored by the US State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo bring U.S. folk band “The T Sisters” to introduce their indie folk sound to Cairo.

The band features the vocal harmonies of sisters Erika, Rachel, and Chloe Tietjen. They performed public concerts and collaborated with Egyptian artists and leading workshops.

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“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

As part of the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF, tickets EGP 75), the T Sisters collaborated with the Egyptian folk musician Shereen Abdo and performed in an all-female lineup on April 5 at the Greek Campus in downtown Cairo.

Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Dorothy Shea told Egypt Today that the embassy is “really proud to be a partner with the D-CAF and particularly to have with us the T-Sisters, this folk singing ensemble…they harmonize beautifully together and for us we truly believe that music is a universal language that helps us build bridges between our two cultures.”

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“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

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“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

During a press interview with the band, Sam Werberg, press attaché at the US embassy, said that the idea of the America Music Abroad program is to select new musical groups from America and present them to overseas audience. “We do this to foster cultural relations between countries. The American Voices is a musical organization in America that is managing the America Music Abroad; it selects the musicians and groups every year, and get them ready for the tour and sometimes accompany them.”

“It’s not linked to foreign policy…but here are things we put into considerations when we send the bands, thankfully here in Egypt we have enough safety and security where we can send the band,” Werberg added.

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“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

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“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

Alan from the American Voices group said that they receive dozens of applications by several bands and musicians, and they review the entries and choose 45 whom we ask for audition, then the pick 15 of them.

The selected bands go all over the world, “we travel to around 45-50 countries every year,” Alan added.

“We do not just want to put them on stage and people claps…we need more collaborations and to create people-to-people exchange,” said Sam, adding that one of the things they seek to do is to try appropriate local musicians or artists to collaborate with.

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“The T Sisters” debut performing in Cairo - Courtesy of Nabil Sedki/US Embassy in Cairo

Speaking about the bands’ collaboration with local musicians, Chloe said that they find Sherine Abdo as “incredibly talented and east to relate to… She is a beautiful singer, singing in English and Arabic. She taught us some Arabic.”

“There are elements of similarities between our singing with Sherin Abdo, and we are harmonizing on each other…I think people will appreciate our effort to try to learn Arabic and will see our connecting to culture and make our best effort in our collaborations,” Chloe added.

While for Rachel, she said that they are excited to bring a different type of music to the Egyptian audience who are familiar with the more common stereotype of American pop music rather than the indie folk.

The trio expressed their delight with the opportunity to interact with people from different part of the world, and to have their preconceptions challenged.

Erika explained that she studied Russian at school and that she has always been interested in intersection of culture and music, adding that she thinks “this program fell well for us because we love to write music and connect with people different from us…in [our country] we travel to different states…but this is a much bigger scale because we have never been to Middle East or North Africa.”

“We did some studying and reading at school on the region, but we now can know our similarities and differences through music, because music is part of every culture and most people have a voice,” said Erika.

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