Singing in Baghdad: the DVD
by Cameron Powers
Copyright © 2005
by Cameron Powers
GL Design, Boulder, CO, USA
UPC Barcode: 543325000329
This DVD has Four Chapters:
Part 1: The Arab World: Singing in Baghdad
Part 2: Peru, Mexico, Greece and Turkey — Evolution of Musical Missions of Peace
Part 3: Music, Fear, Hope
Part 4: Middle Eastern Tribal History and Natural Language Boundaries
The cover photo for this DVD was taken in Baghdad in the spring of 2003.
While the U.S. government pursued its military mission, Cameron Powers and Kristina Sophia were pursuing their musical mission.
Cameron and Kristina made four journeys through Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, the West Bank and Lebanon during the period from 2002 through 2005.
They learned popular music from all these Arab-world countries and began singing in the streets to make people-to-people connections.
Their journey from Jordan into Iraq and then to Baghdad is a remarkable adventure. Was it the music which enabled them to cross the border?
How did it feel to sing popular Arabic music for 60,000 people in the Cairo stadium and be the only non-Arab performers?
How were they received in a huge Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria?
It is their firm belief that it is only after singing and dancing with people that real communication opens up. Too many misunderstandings and too much fear result with reliance upon words alone, especially when language barriers compound the problem.
Cameron and Kristina drove more than 40,000 miles through more than half the American states to bring the live performance of “Singing in Baghdad” to thousands of U.S. citizens and were consistently encouraged to never stop carrying this message of peace.
Review: DVD and Books
It is not often that I get entirely new perspectives on how our world is shaped through culture. Cameron’s works are chock full of them. For example, so many Americans take the oppression of women in the Middle East as a given, without ever imagining that below the head scarf, the veil or the burka there is a human being and a feminine expression of Life that deserves to be discovered before it is summarily and casually dismissed under the reductive epithet “oppressed.” Cameron’s books speak of the amazing power of feminine presence in the Middle East, a feminine enchantment that, in the United States, people hardly have an inkling of, much less deep, experiential appreciation for. To read Cameron’s books is to feast upon delicious new territories of the heart, it inspires taking the next flight to the Middle East so that we ourselves might become a little bit more roundly human.
I recommend Cameron as someone who is an expression of the change our world inspires. When you meet him, you realize that he is the change wherever he is, always ready to sing and travel widely with spirited gentleness into the landscape of the human heart. And all of his words lead toward that knowing that there is a realm which is fully human that we can dwell in together in a way that words can’t express – but a voice, a drum or an oud can… And that is the disarming genius that Cameron expounds; rather than taking us through more thought processes about how we might think ourselves into having a different perception of other, Cameron takes us directly into ecstatic song, directly into shared ecstasy which, once shared, radically softens the very sense of other and opens us to mutual discovery through the bliss that inhabits our core and is yearning for release and connection. He is not out in the world resisting fear; he is out in the world inviting fear directly to the party and the feast which always awaits us in the communion of hearts.
Cameron’s vision of turning the “missionary efforts” of the West inside out is brilliant: rather than sending Western young men and women out to the far corners of the Earth to spread Jesus and Tupperware, Cameron has a vision of sending young men and women out to learn songs, wisdom and culture from global inhabitants. When I think of that, I am astounded by its brilliance: nothing to teach, nothing to propagandize – simply the willingness to learn from others a new way of being human together.
Singing in Baghdad is here!!!! Amazing scenes of joy and wonder. Some of my favorite parts are your account of getting through the border into Iraq, the message to Bush, the beautiful Syrian girl studying American poetry, and above all the incredible song at the very end. If this was sung by Kristina, she has reached a level attained by very few. It was like Calvados, a distillation of the entire Arabic empire. All the tidbits meshed well with the musical interludes or vice versa. It’s one of those DVD’s you have to see over and over again because you know you missed stuff the first time through. Thanks for sending it. When my Lebanese friend sees it, he will weep at all the luxuries he left behind in Beirut.
We watched “Singing in Baghdad” and loved it! I was moved to tears, in a good way! at a number of points. We will definitely schedule this for a community showing this summer.
Hey guys! Great job! Ken Burns has nothing on you! I really enjoyed the ‘snap shot’ effect that all the casual settings created — makes it seem like you were really there, which of course you were. I found the discussion of personal space interesting, too — and we noticed that when you zoomed in on many of your subjects, you *really* zoomed in — I think that mirrors the feeling. I have been looking folks more in the face since I saw that part. The music sounds really good — both of your voices! I also enjoyed the long Lebanese piece over the credits at the beginning. We’ve only watched the first segment so far. Congratulations!
We watched “Singing in Baghdad” and loved it! I was moved to tears, in a good way! at a number of points.
Last night, we finally watched our DVD of Singing in Baghdad. Cameron and Kristina – aka Musical Missions for Peace – have traveled throughout the Middle East numerous times, bringing people together through music. They have also given hundreds of presentations all over the U.S., letting us know the wonderful and welcoming ways of our Middle Eastern neighbors.
I first saw Cameron and Kristina give their presentation at the local Unitarian Church. Then, they were kind enough to join a group of us when we brought together a group of Muslims, Unitarians, and people from “other assorted belief systems” for a barbeque. They are real people who are living their truth and making a difference.
Our government and media have done us and the world a great disservice by constantly portraying people from the middle east as “Muslim Fundamentalists”, “terrorists”, and “Islamic jihadists”. Yeah, there are certainly people who fit into those categories (if you like putting labels on people), but we have “Christian Fundamentalists”, “terrorists”, and a government that kills, overthrows, sanctions, or whatever it wants to do to maintain power and control also. The everyday people all over the world just want to live their lives. We give too much power to the few who wish to do harm, when we could be spending our time learning to love our brothers and sisters more deeply.
Watching the people in Baghdad gather around Cameron and Kristina to sing and dance, I saw a light in their eyes, an aliveness that I don’t see here much. And we think that we have it all.
“For a nonviolent person, the whole world is one family. He will thus fear none, nor will others fear him.” – Mahatma Gandhi