The Fares Karam, Soraya and Doris Farhat Middle Eastern Concertby Soraya
On Saturday, March 12, 2011 Caesar's Palace Casino in Atlantic City' NJ welcomed Arabic singing icon Fares Karam, myself, and worldwide favorite Doris Farhat to the showroom stage of the "Circus Maximus Theater". As we drove into Atlantic City, I looked up and noticed large billboards on the expressway and also concert posters on the Marquee's throughout the casino.
This was another amazing experience for me. I am excited to share this magical evening of Arabic culture with the readers of Oriental Dancer. After performing with Amr Diab of Egypt at Trump Taj Mahal I never thought it could get any better, but it did. Fares presented an amazing concert of Lebanese music to a sold-out audience who came in from all over New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, even Washington D.C which extended far beyond the tri-state region. The fan base for this unique concert reached far and wide. This show brought in concert-goers of all ages that enjoyed this Arabian entertainment extravaganza into the wee hours of the morning. The rhythmic sounds of Dabke filled the stadium as thousands of people danced in the aisles and screamed in admiration of the Fares Karam event.
The doors opened to the showroom at 8 PM and the concert started promptly at 9 PM. I was first to take the stage for Fares. I presented a performance with a variety of styles of Middle Eastern belly dancing to open the show. The costume I wore was specially made just for Fares. It was created in both Egypt and in Lebanon to reflect the duality of styles featuring both Arabic folklore and cabaret overtones. My show consisted of many different rhythms, and songs. All of my music was carefully chosen to celebrate the many facets of Arabic dance and culture. The audience immediately began to whistle and clapped along to my movements. I heard people zaghareeting and cheering which all belly dancers love. To my delight, I also heard people calling me by name! A few members in the audience jumped out of their seats to come greet me at the edge of the stage! It was such a great, creative and inspiring experience.
I performed one of my most intense drum solos which contained a lot of difficult time signatures, musical phrases and tabla rhythm changes. I could hear the audience going crazy. The spotlight was so bright that I could only see past the first two rows as I danced under the beautiful purple lighting. The fog machines sent plumes of white mist into the air and it felt like I was literally dancing on a cloud. It was as if the stage was my vessel and the music was the conduit reaching out into the audience. The stage was transformed into a scene from an Arabian Nights dream come true.
I finished my show and the beautiful Doris Farhat took to the stage. Her voice was angelic with a vocal range that filled the room. Her ethereal voice reminded me of when I performed with Warda of Egypt. Doris sang for about 15 minutes and the crowd loved her.
In a flurry of excitement, the incredible Lebanese superstar Fares Karam emerged onto this giant stage. The audience was on their feet screaming and going crazy. Fares sang all of his hits such as El Tanoura (the skirt), Shefta, Neswanji, and other chart topping songs to a delighted crowd. His voice has a commanding authority that is so masculine and intense. His stage presence was wonderful. It is easy to see why he is in such demand worldwide and such a true superstar.
I loved experiencing the juxtaposition from an empty stadium to a packed house full of excited fans. My wonderfully supportive husband Dr. Rob documented everything which began as soon as we arrived to the venue. From the elaborate sound check that took place on one of the most incredible sound mixing boards I have ever experienced, to choosing the stage design, lighting rig colors to getting cozy in my beautiful dressing room. There was a delicious spread of food that was put out for us. The last thing on my mind was eating before performing. I had a protein bar which I like before shows for energy. Fares, his orchestra, and my entourage enjoyed the food. In the slideshow below you will see the decimated spread! The amazing transformation in the showroom started from the moment we walked in...
For those who may be new to the wonderful style songs of the great Fares Karam here is a short bio. Fares Karam hails from a region of Lebanon called Jezzine. His home town of Jezzine is located in the South of Lebanon which is very beautiful. Fares began his career after participating in the top Lebanese talent show called: "Studio El Fan". He took home the main prize and ever since continues to receive a high level of praise and respect in the field of the Lebanese traditional song.
After receiving this accolade, Fares quickly gained the public's attention and was prospected as one of the best up and coming stars not only in Lebanon but throughout the entire the Arab world. His Dad was a proud farmer and his mother worked as a school teacher for their village. He has one sister who is the Lebanese singer Madonna. His music is very popular in upscale Lebanese establishments where patrons like to dance Dabke which is a traditional folklore dance often performed at weddings and other joyous celebratory occasions. Dabke is a beloved and ancient line dance enjoyed throughout many countries and regions in the Middle East including but not limited to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt.
Fares Karam brought Lebanese music and the rhythmic Dabke style in particular to new heights. He has produced many hit singles around the Middle East. Fares has participated in a large number of concerts, cultural events, and celebrations, traversing the globe with his strong voice and handsome stage presence. In a short amount of time he has become extremely successful. Fares continues to take home many prestigious music awards in his career. His music is distinct from other contemporary Arab-speaking artists'. Fares enjoys being uniquely different in his style, yet embraces the authenticity of his cultural roots. He stands out from other singers in the genre with his great artistry. I noticed how gracious he is when we spent time together backstage before the show. He also loves his fans while doing what he enjoys so much.
Please check out these three videos below which captured this incredible evening of Arabic song and dance. The first video is a slideshow compilation which contains all of the photos from this incredible concert. All photos taken by my awesome husband Dr. Rob: