Habibi Kings Founder Michael Garin Says:
"The Habibi Kings (Samir Shukry, Ossama Farouk and I) have played together in various joints for over 30 years, starting with the Café Feenjon. Our music is a throwback to the old 8th Avenue music scene, when clubs like The Port Said and The Egyptian Garden populated 8th Avenue from around 25th Street to around 33rd Street. It was a scene where Arab, Israeli, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Iranian customers, music and musicians mingled freely and happily. Our belief is that if musicians ruled the world, there would be no more war. Nothing else would get done either. The whole world would sleep til noon, watch TV till 8pm and then go to work. All in all, not a bad schedule."
Samir Shukry was born in the town of Akko (Acre), Israel, to a musical family. His father, Sodki Shukry, a professor of Arabic music, was also considered one of the country's most prolific lyricist/composer/arrangers of Arabic music, played the oud and violin, and was a pioneer in Israeli television and radio.
After finishing high school in Akko, Samir left for New York City to continue his musical education, graduating from Queens College in New York with a Bachelor of Arts in a double major of Western Classical Music and Music Education.
During 1987, then divorced, Samir returned to live and perform in Israel. There, he recorded his huge hit, "Rona," named after his eldest daughter, whom he yearned to be with back in the United States.
The success of the song brought Samir back to Israel for good. His popularity soared. In early 1990 Samir married Jamila, a prominent Israeli lawyer and one year later their son Nadir was born. That same year Samir began performing in France, where he was received warmly by the mixed ethnic audiences. His
approach, a blend of his native Arabic/Oriental style and the Western music he studied, resulting in his own unique style, has since developed into a musical insignia. He sings and plays on a white electric violin which he feels has become a symbol for peace and brotherhood, like the white dove. His performances at the "Olympia" and "Palais du Congress" in Paris have made him a mainstay on the local scene.
His shows became quite popular among both Arabic and Jewish communities alike, circling the globe. He became recognized as a creative artist who builds bridges between nationalities. Since then, Samir has come out with nearly one album every year. His performing schedule keeps him busy returning to Europe, North Africa, the United States and, of course, Israel over and over again.
Samir's dream is to become the ambassador of peace, playing his violin and singing his way into the hearts and souls of people of all nations the world over.
Visit his website at www.samirshukry.com
If you've spent any time in New York City after 9:00 p.m. in the last two decades, chances are you're already familiar with Michael Garin. You may have heard him playing piano and singing in such legendary boîtes as The Monkey Bar, The Rainbow Room, Café Feenjon, the notorious VIP Room at Limelight (where he performed for and with such luminaries as Frank Zappa, James Chance, David Lee Roth, and Kool & the Gang), and Elaine's. He has been hailed in the press as "a virtuoso musical wit" (Stephen Holden, The New York Times) who "presides over the best party in town" (David Finkle, The Village Voice).
With his on- and off-stage partner, the singer-comedienne Mardie Millit, Michael performed weekly at Elaine's for the last three years of the restaurant's life. Satirical, witty, acerbically intelligent, Michael has a number of specialty songs that he's known for. His repertoire is massive and eclectic: everything from Middle Eastern and Yiddish to standards to music from classic and obscure cult films to early rock and R&B. Will Friedwald of the Wall Street Journal calls him "perhaps the most extreme polymath I've ever encountered."
Michael's other credits include running the cabaret and writing original music for the Williamstown Theatre Festival (where he accompanied Elaine Stritch, Jane Krakowski, and Nathan Lane, to name a few). His two CDs, "The Song of the Alpha Male" and "Tulsa is Just a Slut Spelled Backwards," are available on iTunes and at cdbaby.com. He co-wrote and co-starred in the hit Off-Broadway musical SONG OF SINGAPORE, for which he won both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. He is currently writing music and lyrics for a musical version of illustrator Ed Sorel's bestselling book, Mary Astor's Purple Diary.
Visit his website at www.michaelgarin.com
Ossama Farouk, known as Farouk to friends and colleagues, is an exceptionally talented self-taught performer of Middle Eastern percussion. Egyptian born, he has been playing the popular Arabic hand drum known as the tabla (other names for this drum include darbuka, dumbek and doumbek) since the age of five.
Farouk won many instrumental competitions throughout Egypt. He founded his own 14-member Middle Eastern band, Al Nogum ("The Stars"), shared the stage with top Oriental dance artists and musicians, and was a lead percussionist at the Cairo Opera House for several years.
He moved to the United States in 2002 and has been welcomed by master artists and performers, recording and performing with the top U.S. performers of not only Arabic music, but also reggae, Latin, Greek, and Persian, to name a few.
His unique, engaging style coupled with his impressive technique on the tabla has allowed Farouk to perform all over the world for celebrities and dignitaries from Cameron Diaz and the Pussycat Dolls to ambassadors, governors, and mayors.
Farouk has performed in Madison Square Garden, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, Highline Ballroom, Trump Taj Mahal, The Kennedy Center, Joe's Pub, B.B. King's Blues Club, and many more. He recently concluded a run on Broadway in the Tony-winning musical The Band's Visit.
Visit his website at www.ossamafarouk.com
Also known as the "Habibi Queen," Mardie sings backup and occasionally solos with the band. A half-Italian/half-WASP Episcopalian from Shadyside, Ohio (pop. 3,000), she was introduced to Middle Eastern music by bandleader Michael Garin, and immediately fell in love with its rhythm, heart and passion. Mardie brings her years of experience in opera, musical theatre and cabaret to the Habibi Kings, contributing to their eclectic style. She is honored to be onstage with such talented and generous performers.
Visit her website at www.michaelandmardie.com