LISTEN: Sharhabeel Ahmed On Habibi Funk Compilation

Habibi Funk, the label highlighting classic music from across the Arab World, shares a track from Sudanese jazz artist Sharhabeel Ahmed which features on new compilation

Over the last couple of years, the Habibi Funk label has been shining a light on a broad selection of older, and lesser known, music to have emerged from across the Arab World, taking in funk and soul from Morocco, Tunisia and a number of other nations.

They’re just about to release their seventh record, a various artists compilation which takes in Arabic zouk, Lebanese AOR and much more. Streaming above is a track from Sudanese jazz artist Sharhabeel Ahmed, called ‘El Bomba’.

Ahmed began playing the guitar after approaching some students that he would see regularly playing the instrument outside of the gates of their school. "He had bought a guitar from a garage sale of a foreigner who left Khartoum but didn’t know how to tune it and therefore was unable to transfer his skills on the Oud and other local string instruments to playing the guitar," the liner notes for the compilation say.

He offered to teach those students how to play mandolin in exchange for lessons in guitar tuning. Influenced by the international jazz bands he saw playing in bars in Downtown Khartoum, he started fusing jazz with local elements of different genres, singing in English and Arabic. He then played his first concert at the opening of the Omdurman National Theatre, and went on to tour in Africa and Europe, performing songs in Arabic, English and Kiswahili, alongside his band.

In total, the compilation features 15 different artists. Some of them, like Fadoul, Ahmed Malek, Dalton and Al Massrieen, will already be familiar to fans of the label through past releases. "Others are meant as an introduction to artists like Kamal Keila, Sharhabeel Ahmed, Attarazat Addahabia & Mallek Mohamed who will all release full length albums on Habibi Funk in 2018," the label says.

Habibi Funk 007: An Eclectic Selection of Music From the Arab World is out on December 1 and can be pre-ordered here.

The CD version comes with a 24-page booklet with liner notes, including information about all the featured artists and releases. The double vinyl will include a 12-page booklet in 12" size with the same content.

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