Sami learned to play several musical instruments including the piano, violin, tar, tombak, santour, daf, tabla and oud to count a few, at a very young age. He bore the passion to etch a mark in the field of music, which he so indelibly did with the release of his groundbreaking debut album, Al-Muallim – an album composed, produced and sung by him.
A young, British-Muslim instantly became the talk of the town in lands as far and diverse as Egypt and Turkey. The album not only sold well over 3 million copies but also earned him a massive following in the Middle East, North African nations and South-East Asia.
Charmed by his good looks and manners so heart warming, the young amongst his fans would emulate what they saw in Sami, a leader. His fans wouldn’t shy away from admitting Sami’s music had changed their lives – for the better. Unheard of before, such an artist-fan tandem flourished with subsequent release of My Ummah, Sami’s highly acclaimed second album selling well over 4 million copies.
Sami was soon headlining CNN, the BBC, ABC, Al Jazeerah, not to mention, every mainstream TV channel in the Middle East and Turkey. Hailed by Time magazine asIslam’s biggest Rock Star and The most famous British Muslim in the World, by The Guardian, it was only a matter of time before sheer dynamism of what the media dubbed apopular act became the subject matter of think-tank studies. Transnational Broadcasting Studies, in two separate papers lauded Sami’s state-of-the-art music videos a beacon of positivity and substance; his music an alternative and competitor to the mainstream Western music.
His success was soon acknowledged by the University of Roehampton in south-west London, as a result of which, Sami became the first and youngest Muslim recipient of the honorary Doctor of Letters award in recognition to his extraordinary contribution to music. His music not only filled the airwaves of London and LA but also penetrated effectively in the conservative Arabian Peninsula. A staggering 250,000 people packed Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey to see Sami perform. He’s one of us, the crowds would claim proudly and sing along with Sami in his near-perfect Turkish. Sami has played across four continents, packing prestigious venues such as Wembley Arena in London, Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and The Velodrome in Cape Town, South Africa – this by all measures being a humble recollection. His shows are grand and highly personalized. His performances are trim and tightly focused, complete with singing in English, Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Azeri and Malay and performance on a multitude of both classical and ethnic instruments. His penchant for multilingualism teamed with simplicity of conduct makes his style a statement, and his shows an experience of a lifetime.
Sami however, dismisses fame and glory. For him, his position as an artist is a sacred trust, a trust best honoured in serving humanity. He was relentless in assuming his responsibilities as the first, global ambassador of Silatech, a Qatar-based initiative promoting entrepreneurial skills and open access to capital and markets for large-scale job creation. His Live8 concert in Wembley Arena raised millions of pounds for the victims of the conflict-laden region of Darfur, praised by the British government in appreciation and recognition of the efforts. Sami took the initiative to work in close tandem with the UN sponsored charity, Save the Children, to help uplift morale of the victims of 2010 Pakistan floods by sending a message of hope and undying support through his charity single, Hear Your Call. The single became the mouthpiece of awareness campaigns led by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, BBC and the CNN.
Sami is one of the UK’s biggest exports in the last decade. In the course of 7 years, he has masterfully navigated through unchartered waters – he has won over the hearts and minds of millions from across the Middle East, Europe, North America and North Africa. His compass, in principle, has been his self-coined genre – Spiritique. Manifested both musically and philosophically in his third album, Wherever You Are, Spiritique is a product of Sami’s identity. A proud British-Muslim, Sami is a passionate advocate of unity and is boldly committed to cross-cultural appreciation through promotion of universal values and celebration of the human spirit. The aim is to bridge the gap between perceptions and sense of incompatibility, and to foster spiritual autonomy so we may usher into a new era of cooperation and coexistence. When different races stand side by side, when young and old, pious or agnostic, male or female sing in one voice; that’s when Spiritique shines. An ambitious undertaking it may be to some. To many, it has already begun.