What do Syria, neo-soul funk, Chicago and President Trump’s travel ban have in common? They are all part of Bassel and the Supernaturals’ story.
Although most of their efforts are currently being put towards a new album release, the group is playing in Durham and Boone from Nov. 16-17.
Bassel and the Supernaturals is a Chicago-based band that sings primarily neo-soul funk songs about the emotions and terrors shown amidst the war in Syria, according to their website. The inspiration for this music comes from the band’s Syrian-American lead singer, Bassel Almadani, whose family has been greatly affected by the ongoing strife in Syria.
“It’s just my immediate family in the states and I’ve always struggled with that sense of privilege,” Almadani said. “The rest of my family didn’t have the opportunity to say what was on their mind or to pick up an instrument and play about whatever they want and speak out against social issues or politics.”
As Almadani struggled with his sense of privilege, he searched for a way to find a deeper connection with his family. With a background in music already, Almadani saw music as an obvious channel.
“At first I just was playing music I had already developed but just talked more about who I was and how I got into this and how my family has been impacted by these issues,” Almadani said. “But over time, we’re eight years into a civil war that’s impacted over 10 million people’s lives including so many of my own family members, and it really started sinking into our creative process.”
The band not only uses lyrics to tell stories, but is beginning to tie specific sounds and rhythms into its songs to hint to its cultural narrative, Almadani said.
The band also participated in South by Southwest 2017 musical festival entitled “Contrabanned: #MusicUnites” where it played with artists from other countries affected by President Trump’s travel ban, according to its website.
Bassel and the Supernaturals works with a variety of colleges, art spaces, churches and other community spaces to educate audiences using Q&As and explaining the context of the songs they are playing, Almadani said.
Although the band is hard at work putting together a new album, it decided to take a long weekend to play in North Carolina. With a great experience the last time the band went to Durham, the band wants to continue to play in the “creative pocket” it experienced in North Carolina, Almadani said.
When the Bassel and the Supernaturals reached out to Boone Saloon booking agent Dave Brewer, he was excited about the fact that the band played soul music.
“We try to offer a great variety of music at Boone Saloon with different types of groups we’re trying to appeal to,” Brewer said. “We get everything from metal to blue grass to indie rock.”
With unique sounds and a political message, Bassel and the Supernaturals is sure to appeal to a variety of audiences.
“Bassel & the Supernaturals have a unique, funk sound that I think students around here would definitely enjoy,” senior music industry major Mairead Wyatt said via email.
Brewer was also excited about the story behind the music and thought it would work well in a college town.
“Definitely having an act with an element of diversity is cool,” Brewer said. “What’s great about a college town is that you can get an interesting variety of music, and when it’s culturally relevant and party friendly, that’s a beautiful thing.”
Bassel and the Supernaturals will play at Boone Saloon on Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. with Brewer’s band, Dave Brewer’s Foscoe Four playing as the opening act.
Story by Mariah Reneau, A&E Editor
Photo courtesy of Pivotal Touring and Management
Featured photo caption: Chicago band Bassel and The Supernaturals. The group is performing at Boone Saloon on Nov. 17.
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