Sami Yusuf - voice of peace

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Sami Yusuf - voice of peace

Sami Yusuf is one of the most famous musicians of our time, who combines traditions of the West and the East in his work. Born in the family of Azerbaijanis in Tehran (his parents moved there from Baku), he performs in spiritique genre, invented by him by skillfully combining original oriental musical instruments. He also masterfully performs oriental music improvisations. People listening to his music finds themselves in a truly magical world. '=

His appearance in the world of music was not accidental. He arrived on the scene when it became necessary to convey those beliefs, moral values, which were obstructed in Western society. Yusuf's songs, filled with love for spiritual values, urge people to show love and kindness. At the peak of most powerful Islamophobic tendencies, Sami Yusuf personifies the true values of Islam - piece and respect for all people, love for God. These values have absolutely nothing in common with today political beliefs that sow hatred and are directed not only against the essence of Islam, but against all related Abrahamic religions that have a common basis and have become a beacon that illuminated the life of billions of people for many centuries. All these religions - Islam, Christianity, Judaism - strengthen spiritual world of man, condemn sin, committed by Satan, and encourage people to be closer to good and compassion. Extremism and terror, killing innocent people - those are the biggest sins before humanity and before God, revered by Muslims, Christians, Jews and Buddhists.

Yusuf himself doesn't consider himself to be an agitator or propagandist of anything. He is convinced that religion is a private matter of every person, and he is just a musician that expresses his feelings through songs. His philosophy, expressed in music, encourages young people, who often become disappointed in themselves from realization of their helplessness in the modern world. 

Yusuf has a huge repertoire: from rhythmic songs about love for God and Prophet Muhammad, love for Motherland, mother, woman and loved ones. Staying true to ideas that are close to the heart of every person, he takes his fans away from extremism, spreading the message of tolerance, moderation and, most of all, hope. Each of his performances can be called the call of his soul.The way Western media talk about him speaks for itself, like "the brightest pop star of the East". "People's love for him is an unusual musical fanaticism," says Sharif Hasan al-Banna, co-founder of Awakening Records label. "People always come to him or write letters saying: "Your music inspired us, it changed us."

More than 1.5 million copies of Yusuf's first two albums were sold. They topped charts not only in the countries of the East, but also in Europe. His hit "Hasbi Rabbi" ("Allah is all I need") became the best-selling ringtone in the Middle East. It is used as ringtones, it can be heard in cafes and cars from Cairo to Damascus.

Sami Yusuf's repertoire is also full of works about love for Azerbaijan. Although Yusuf was born in Tehran and lives in England since childhood, he does not forget about his historical homeland. Sami Yusuf sings songs in English, Arabic, Turkish and Farsi, but sometimes he also starts singing in his native Azerbaijani language. "I associate Azerbaijan with honor, culture, traditions. It's a country with magnificent music of world culture. For Azerbaijani man, his word is the law, there is no need for a written assurance. This is what Azerbaijan is for me," musician said in an interview. You can just listen to his song "Azerbaijan", which is more like a prayer and a declaration of love for his historical homeland.

Many fans saw how at one of his concerts singer approached the fans and kissed Azerbaijani flag.

He showed love for his ancestors and his homeland in magnificent song "Ayrilik" ("Separation"). The song, written by genius of Azerbaijani music Ali Selmi, became a symbol of all Azerbaijanis who left their homeland. Sami Yusuf's performance added new features to it - singer replaces the word "Separation" in the chorus with the word "Azerbaijan", which adds an even bigger emotional context to this song.

Some of the songs in Azerbaijani language are included in his albums. One of them, legendary folk composition "Sari Gelin" ("Golden-haired Bride"), became known to the entire world after Sami Yusuf performed it. Two years ago his performed in Baku with a solo program named after this song. 

Turkish folklore specialist Dilaver Duzgun, while studying the structure of melody and story of the songs characteristic for Turkic folklore, notes that "yellow color" and phrase "sari gelin" are often found in Turkic mythology and folklore, which indicates Turkic origin of the song .

Experts also said that this is written based of Azerbaijani mugham. Poetic form of the song is based on Azerbaijani traditional folklor form "Bayati". Yusuf's performance of this song in a duet with Azerbaijani mugham master Alim Gasimov can be remembered in this context.

The concert that was held in 2015 at the Heydar Aliyev Palace became a proof of singer's attachment to his origins. It was the first time he sang so much in his native language and so much about love. He sang the original song of Soviet composer Said Rustamov "Getme Getme, Gel, Gozel Yar". The song was written for stage, however it was based on the mugham genre. Work of the composer is closely connected to Azerbaijani musical folklore. By using mugham, ashug music and folk songs in his work, Rustamov created a musical language. And this song was once sung by such great singers as Shovket Alakbarova, Rubaba Muradova and others. During the years of independence it became popular on the Turkish stage, just like most Azerbaijani songs of Soviet composers.

The singer often makes references to works that were popular in Azerbaijan during the Soviet era, like the song of great Rashid Behbudov "Yalgizam Yalgiz", written by Azerbaijani composer Tofik Kuliev, which is considered to be one of the best lyrical song of the composer. The song was written by Kuliev from the late 1940s to the 1960s. It is a combination of tango jazz and typical Azerbaijani rhythms. The song was performed by such singers as Rashid Beibutov, Lutfiyar Imanov, Muslim Magomayev. The first time this song was performed by Rashid Beibutov, who sang it in Russian and Persian during tours in Iran. Sami Yusuf performed it in 2011 in Ankara, once again surprising everyone with his lyrical voice.

Knowing several languages opens wide opportunities for the singer. Sometimes he sings one song in several languages, like the song "Sen Benim Nazli Yarimsin" ("You're my love") - in English, Arabic and Azeri. 

Sami Yusuf joined the World Food Programme as Global Ambassador Against Hunger. He donates a lot of money to the hungry children of Africa. The main message that Sami Yusif conveys to his listeners is the need for intercultural dialogue and understanding. Eastern rhythms have a hypnotic effect on the mass consciousness.