Marcel Khalife

How is it that I could live this long and not know about Marcel Khalife?  I ask you.  He was on tour here in the States last year and no one said anything to me.  I would have flown to San Diego, if necessary.

Marcel Khalife (مارسيل خليفة), a lute specialist with the Beruit Conservatory, referred to by Neda Ulaby as the Dylan of The East, has a lengthy repertoire spanning decades.  What can I add to his story that hasn’t been said more eloquently by others?

He was named by UNESCO as an Artist for Peace and cited for being responsible for the modern development of lute technique.  He has had a run in with the law (so to speak).  Back in 1999, a line in one of his songs drew the attention of religious extremists in his country:

The song’s vague citation of a Koran verse drew hostile attention from Dar-al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s highest Sunni authority.

Some fundamentalist members of the Bahraini parliament stated that the Khalife and Haddad violated Sharia law

You can read more about this at and at Marcy Newman’s blog Body on the Line. It would seem that religious zealots are not only scary in the United States.

Hear some of his music at this MySpace page.  Oh, and the official web site: