When Andrew Mitchell, the cultural affairs officer at the US Embassy in Egypt, heard that a Muslim dude was making a go of it as a country star, he thought it was "the funniest thing I'd ever heard."
So Mitchell began checking out Kareem Salama's stuff--his two self-released albums, Generous Peace and This Life of Mine, and his 2007 hit song "Generous Peace," whose video is as wholesome as an ABC After-School Special. "Gentlemen, I'm like incense; the more you burn me, the more I'm fragrant," Salama sings, echoing the writings of the eight century Islamic scholar Muhammed Al-Shafi'ee.
"That is a concept," Mitchell recalls thinking, "that if I could broadcast anything to this part of the world, that's what I would say."
Salama is an American, born of Egyptian parents--engineers both--who came to the US for college and ultimately settled down here. They raised Kareem and his three siblings in the rural town of Ponca City, Oklahoma. The town had no mosque, and only one other Muslim family lived there, but the children learned Islamic traditions at home. Salama, now 33, considers himself devout; he prays regularly, and doesn't drink or date. (More)