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The Rock Sheik

The Rock Sheik

London, Asharq Al-Awsat – On a visit to America a decade ago, Sheikh Hassan bin Rashed al Khalifa decided that his true calling in life was music. Leaving behind his native Bahrain, he decided to focus his energies on the music business and with Florida as his base.

In London on a mini-club tour “Shake”, as he is known to his band mates, spoke to Asharq Al Awsat about his career so far.

With his band “Brothermandude”, Shake hopes to take the world by storm. The proud Bahraini citizen fuses a classic rock sound with electronic dance beats. His unique musical sound also incorporates Arabic beats inspired by his background growing up in the Persian Gulf.

The decision to become a singer was a brave one for Shake, especially as he is a member of Bahrain’s royal family. Speaking with pride about his country, he said Bahrain was becoming more prosperous and is flourishing.

Family played an important role in motivating a young Shake. His close relationship with his mother and his father’s support helped him realize his dream.

Asked whether singing in English might hamper appeal in the Arab world, he replied, “My choice of composing and singing songs in English will not hinder my success. Many young people like this sort of music.”

Already, Shake has a loyal following in Dubai and his songs have been played in his native country. “The idea of forming a group that sings and composes music in a foreign language is now a popular phenomenon worldwide. I don’t see English as an obstacle to being famous in the Arab world. In fact, Turkish music is very popular in the region, in spite of the lack of knowledge of the language. Music acts as a link between listeners and artists.”

In the United States, Shake has received significant attention in the media. He said he was inspired by former rock legends, including “The Doors”, “Led Zeppelin” and “Pearl Jam”.

An avid guitar player, Shake remains focused on composing songs and writing lyrics. The new album, released in September in the United States, includes songs such as “Automatic”, “The Sun” and “Heart Attack”. Mark Wallis and Dave Ruffy who have previously worked with artists including U2, Travis and Kirsty McCall produced it.

Shake describes himself as an ordinary person whose sole care in life is to please his audience and reach musical perfection. When asked if his title “Shake,” had played a role in his success as a singer, he answered jokingly, saying, “There is no place for Sheikhs in music!”. He also spoke about his choice of attending the University of Tampa in Florida to continue his education because it was as far away as possible from people who knew him as members of his family and friends had gained their degrees in Washington. He chose a place where he would be anonymous and would be treated like other students. He added, “My artist name “Shake” which people have called me since I first came to the United States is easy for everybody.”

Concerning his small family, “I have a sister called Marwa and a brother called Salman who won the Formula BMW Asia last year. He is in France now preparing to race for the French company, Renault.”

Shake described his profession as an artist as a “message of love and peace” that is addressed to all the Arab and western nations. He encourages the youth to embark on a career that they enjoy the most, especially if they are genuinely talented. “Music is food for the soul and a global language that everybody understands without any difficulty.” He expressed hope that his audience all over the world, especially in the Arab world would enjoy his album that is on the verge of being released.

* Karima Sbitri contributed to this report.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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