Rahim AlHaj, virtuoso oud musician and composer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud (the grandfather of all stringed instruments) at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing the oud. Mr. Alhaj studied under the renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player ever, and Salim Abdul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. AlHaj won various awards at the Conservatory and graduated in 1990 with a diploma in composition. He holds a degree in Arabic Literature from Mustunsariya University in Baghdad. In 1991, after the first Gulf War, Mr. AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq due to his activism against the Saddam Hussein regime and began his life in Jordan and Syria. He moved to the US in 2000 as a political refugee and has resided in Albuquerque, NM ever since.
Music and the Creative Spirit
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I feel lucky to have heard Rahim Alhaj. His music is beautiful, mysterious, and powerful. I've never heard anything like it. He has his own voice--his own sound. As the world becomes more and more complicated, confusing, and frightening, there is one thing I am certain of--Music is good. Music can bring people together. Music has power. Music heals. What Rahim is doing is important. I hope many people will have the chance to hear his new album, Home Again, made up of his own very personal compositions. Listen. He's an inspiration. --Bill Frisell