Turkey, Cross-border
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Light in Babylon: A Musical Fusion of Ethnicity

The streets of Istanbul are a haven for a variety of different talents and skills, the street of Independence Avenue, Istiklal Caddesi, to be exact. For years, this street has been home to people of different ethnic roots baring their musical souls to the 2 million or so people passing by.  On this street, 6 years ago, the Light in Babylon shone through, bringing together 3 people of different ethnic backgrounds to infuse one language into our ears: music.

Singer Michal Elia Kamal, from Israel with Iranian roots, French guitarist Julien Demarque, and Turkish santur player Metehan Ciftci had a bit of trouble with verbal communication and yet, the language of music brought them together to form what is now known as the Light of Babylon. What started on the streets gained attention enough to welcome the band to international festivals and shows!

Michal tells Qantara: “Our band members come from different regions and speak different languages, but we still have a shared culture and language – music,”

The band’s name comes from the history of Babylon. The Tower of Babel divided people and forced them to speak different languages but through their experience on the streets of Turkey, they chose the name ‘Light of Babylon’ to reflect the unison they found in music.

“Our first stage was the street,” says Michal. “People are walking home, going to work or on their way back – no one looks, no one laughs. But as soon as you start making music people stop, listen, laugh, cry, dance and talk to each other.”

Light of Babylon truly cares for peace in the Middle East as Michal also says:

“When people hear our music, they don’t think of any one politician or a certain government. There’s something in it that goes deeper. We live in the Middle East and in this wonderful place, we have a lot of empathy for the great suffering many people have to go through. With our music, we send out messages and prayers for peace.”

You can see, read, and hear more about the band on their official site Facebook page and Youtube channel.

Don’t forget to share and leave a smile 🙂 ! Let us know what you think of their music in the comment box below.

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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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