I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing musician over the weekend. Abaji is a French-Lebanese songwriter, though it’s actually an injustice to label him at all. His mother is Turkish, his father Greek. He was born in Lebanon, but has lived much of his adult life in Paris. He speaks six languages with varying degrees of fluency.* And if that sounds eclectic, his music is even more so. I’m guessing he is able to play any instrument that you hand him. Watch his performance on Tiny Desk Concerts to have a look at him play 3 different songs with 3 very different instruments. I watched him sit in a hutong (a Chinese traditional alleyway) playing a bamboo clarinet in one hand and strum a bouzouki, a kind of mediterranean guitar, in the other. If there’s such a thing as a musical superhero, Abaji is it.
But even more impressive was Abaji’s personality. He is one of the most open, most generous people you could ever meet. Being around him for five minutes is enough to warm your heart. He performed Friday night in a rock club with an audience comprised of Chinese, Americans, French, Singaporeans and who knows who else. Within one minute, he had the crowd responding, singing along, clapping, and dancing as enthusiastically as if we were at a wedding celebration. He reached out to the audience and the audience responded. After getting to know him, I have no doubt this relationship with the audience depended entirely on Abaji’s personality. He put himself out on a limb and it was up to the audience to either prop him up, or let him fall spectacularly.
If you have the chance to see Abaji in concert (and it’s likely that you will, he tours all over the world) I highly encourage it.