Salaam is the Arabic word for “”Peace””. The world music ensemble, Salaam, explores a cultural mosaic of music from countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Their innovative arrangements, improvisations, and compositions reflect the traditional styles of these countries as well as the band’s fresh interpretations. Their musical goal is to bring the beauty of other cultures to children and adults alike.

I can see that most of the band’s members were graduated from the same college in Indiana university. Was this a coincidence or were you friends back then and formed this band together?
Salaam: When I came to Indiana University, it wanted to study at the music conservatory (the IU Jacobs School of Music). After returning from a trip to Baghdad, Iraq to visit family, I was obsessed with Arabic music. I began making friends with some of the many talented musicians in the music conservatory, other like-minded people who were interested in playing other styles besides just Classical Western music. For the majority of the musicians, I introduced them to Arabic music, and they became quickly hooked on the music.

How did the founder of this band came up with this idea of the band?
Salaam: I grew up in Chicago. I started learning violin at age 6. Although I always played Classical music, my family listened to Arabic music. When I went to Iraq, I heard the music in a new way, and I had a vision to form a group to perform Arabic music. After 15 years of playing, my group Salaam has begun experimenting with mixing Arabic music with some of our other influences. All of the musicians in my group are capable of playing different styles of music. Some have a Classical, Minimalist and Avant-garde background, others Rock and Roll, Blues and Jazz.

What was this creative idea’s objective?
Salaam: To present Arabic music to people who were unfamiliar with it (we live in the Midwest part of the U.S.). However, the idea of the band has evolved now to expand the horizons of Arabic music in our own way. 

Can you tell me about the band’s recent activities?
Salaam: The band is releasing our new CD, the self-titled Salaam this summer. You can check out our online press release.

Any future goals concerning the band?
Salaam: We hope to become better known and sell a lot of CDs. We hope that our music will also be licensed for use in films.

Have you had any ideas of going on a musical tour around the Arab world introducing your unique music?
Salaam: We would love to! 

If there is a particular Message you would like to send to the Arab region and globally, what would it be?
Salaam: As an Arab American musician, I feel I have a unique opportunity and responsibility. I see music as a bridge that connects people. I truly believe that in this world we are all brothers and sisters, and that we are all equal. I want my music to be an ambassador for peaceful coexistence. If blues and maqam can coexist, then so can we!

How would you describe the relation between the band members?
Salaam: I founded the band Salaam, and do most of the work choosing music and creating the artistic direction. My husband, Tim Moore is the drummer for our group. Not only is he talented and versatile, but he also helps organize and run the business end of things. We play with many talented musicians including my brother, Amir ElSaffar, and our musical ?brother? Hakan Ali Toker. We actually work with many more musicians, too numerous to mention here, but you can find it on the website 

Any upcoming Albums that would be released soon?!
Salaam: Our new album Salaam ! Please see our press release, with some downloadable tracks.

Interviewed by: Yara Emad