Kadim Al Sahir

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Al Sahir was born in Mosul in 1957 to a mother from Najaf Shia Islam and a father from Samarra Sunni Islam. His father lived in Baghdad, but was a Samarra native from the tribe of Albu Daraj. He grew up and spent a large part of his life in Alhurrya city in Baghdad. He is the son of a palace worker and has nine siblings.

Apart from his mother, Al Saher's family were never supportive of his direction in becoming a musician. They had no faith in him that he would become successful, and instead wanted him to become a doctor or a lawyer. Sahir's brother once took him to a different places where people sing, and told him it's your choice to sing a respectful way and choose the good or the bad way. He said that the only way to achieve success is if you respect your music and respect yourself, he have two sons (Omar,Wsam) and two daughters (Amira,Fatima).

Early life

He excelled in his studies and entered the Teachers Institute where he graduated in 1978 and was appointed as a teacher in a school in Mousal. At age twenty-one he enrolled at the Baghdad Institute of Music where he studied for around 6 years. His interest in music grew as he listened to songs via the radio that offered him the chance to become familiar with the works of composers such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab. When he was ten, he began writing songs. After selling his bicycle, Al Saher purchased a guitar at the age of twelve, and began learning the arts of the guitar for about three months before writing a classical song. It was his first instrument. He later switched to the oud, a much more common (and complex) instrument, and was accepted into the Baghdad Music Academy at the age of twenty-one. Although keen to break through in the music business with his songs and voice, he found himself rebuffed by all the producers he approached, who would only let him sing their own material. Instead, he used the back door to gain entry to the industry.

Professional career

1980–1999: Rise to fame

One of his first videos was made in collaboration with one of his friends that happened to be a television director. The song in question was "Ladghat El Hayya" (The Snake Bite), which was broadcast on Iraqi television in 1987, one year before the end of the Iran-Iraq war. The song was the source of a major controversy due to particular sensitivities that were common during that era. Iraqi television officials asked him to either change the lyrics or have it banned. His refusal to change the lyrics and its consequent ban only helped to increase the popularity of the song. He began giving concerts all over the Persian Gulf and recording his music with Kuwaiti labels.

A year later, he had a hit with "Obart Al Shat" (I crossed the river). Some of his professors at the Academy denounced it as sha'bi (pop) music, anathema to those who taught classical music. Al Saher had managed to circumvent the system and had become a star on his own terms—he even undertook his first U.S tour in 1989. Having conquered pop, Al Saher turned around and established himself in the Arabic classical world with "La Ya Sadiki" (No, My Friend), a magnum opus that lasted almost an hour and found him using magams (scales) that hadn't been used in Iraqi music in several decades, revitalizing a tradition.

In 1991 and due to the Persian Gulf War, Al Saher transferred his base of operations to Jordan where he lived with his family for a few years. He considers living in Jordan as an important period of his life and career success later on. Al Saher performed some of his most successful concerts which were held in Jerash and produced two successful albums Sameer Baghdadi Studios in Amman, Jordan. After that he moved to Lebanon, where he met and formed a songwriting partnership with Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani in 1996, who wrote lyrics to his music, before settling permanently in Cairo. Qabbani wrote the lyrics to more than 30 of Al Saher's songs. In addition to Qabbani’s poems, Al Saher sang both political and romantic songs for Iraq and Baghdad, highlighting the feelings of the citizens of Iraq as well as their tragedies.

Al Saher continued to release albums and tour, having become the biggest name in Middle Eastern music, one whose ballads grew bigger and more romantic, but who would write classically influenced works, even when they might hurt his popularity.

By 1998, he had ten albums under his belt and was lauded as an artist, not just a pop star. That prestige brought him wider fame and a growing international reputation that won him a UNICEF award for his song "Tathakkar", which he performed in the U.S. for Congress and the United Nations — one of the first real post-Gulf War cultural exchanges. The following year, he recorded a tribute to the Pope with the Italian Symphony Orchestra.


While still a fan of large orchestras, whose sweep helps define his music, he has remained open to technological innovation, even going so far as to allow a remix (by fusionists Transglobal Underground) of his song "La Titnahad", taken from his 2000 release El Hob El Moustahil (The Impossible Love), the first of his albums to be given an official American release. To coincide with it, he performed on the Mondo Melodia tour, which crossed the U.S.

In 2003 Al Sahir colloborated with Lenny Kravitz and released an anti-war song at Rock the Vote, titled "We Want Peace", and shortly afterward released a song entitled "The War Is Over" (Entahat al harab) with Sarah Brightman which was released in her album Harem and his album Hafiat Al-Kadamain which was highly praised in the middle east. Both of these international duets were executive produced by Dergham Owainati, of EMI Music Arabia, for Kadim's part. In 2004 Al Sahir continued to work with various international artists including Grammy Award-winning producers KC porter, and Quincy Jones. His collaboration "Love & Compassion" (Hob Wa Haneen) was the title track for the Arab American National Museum Collector's edition honoring the artists that have made the most significant difference with international audiences. The track features Grammy winning singer/songwriter Paula Cole, Def Jam recording artist Karina Pasian, and Luis Conte, produced by KC Porter.

In 2004 he participated in the worldwide broadcast concert special "We are the Future" concert produced by Quincy Jones at the Roman Maximos Stadium in Rome for the benefit of the children of the world. In December 2004 he participated in the opening of the Gulf Football Championship (Khaleeji 17) in which he performed the return of Iraq Operette which was broadcast live on 10 satellite channels. Additionally, in 2004 he was the first Arab artist to participate in Unity, the official album of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Releasing his album Ila Tilmitha on November 11, 2004. The album contains collaborations with the Moroccan Asma Lmnawar whom kadim discovered earlier and introduced to the Arab world in her first due song with kadim "ashko ayaman". The album also included the song "Ahbeni" written by the late poet Nizar Qabbani, shoot as a video clip by Husien Duibes and it was a major hit in the year 2004 along side with the song "Ila Tilmitha"

Major achievements on the artistic and humanitarian level, we were able to raise your interest and convince you that he definitely deserves to be awarded the AUB Honorary Doctorate in the field of Arts and Culture for the year 2006. The United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, named Alsaher as the new goodwill ambassador for Iraq for the year 2011. For Alsaher, this was a compeling reason to visit his country after 14 years 

Charity work

Over the past 15 years, Al Sahir has participated in many charity concerts. Some of the most important charitable concerts that Al Sahir has performed are the Royal Albert Hall concerts. It all started in 1997, when he performed Remember "Tathakar" song for the first time the audience was brought to tears during his performance.

His second concert on May 23, 2004 was in honor of the children in the Middle East. The concert was a great success. The concert was sponsored by the Melkonian Foundation. The profits of this concert were donated to this foundation. This foundation supports over 50000 children.

His third concert was held on March 14, 2006. The profits of the concert were also donated to the Melkonian Foundation.

Al Sahir has participated in many concerts in Egypt for the benefit of children with cancer. And he has held numerous charity concerts in Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Iraq.

There are many other charity concerts that he has held, and he has donated money to many organizations. He does not like to discuss this part of his career, because he believes that people should not boast.

  • Basma charity foundation – Tunis 2004
  • Charity box – Tunis 1997
  • Orphans charity foundation – Lebanon 2002
  • Cancer Hospital – Jordan 2005
  • Cancer children hospital – Egypt 2002
  • Women in country side charity box 2002
  • Jordan river foundation – Jordan 2005
  • Melkonian Foundation – London 2004, 2006
  • Victims of the Cairo train wreck in 2002
  • Algeria victims of earthquake 2002
  • War victims in Afghanistan 2002
  • We are the future event 2004