KARACHI: “You know what peace is because you know what it is like to not have peace,” Stephan Said pointed out to his audience at the ‘Light the World’ (Dunya Roshan Karo) concert at Port Grand here late Thursday evening.
“I’ve been using my voice for spreading peace, unity, freedom and hope,” he told the audience and explained that his message was peace which he wanted to send to the world from Pakistan.
The son of an Iraqi father and Austrian mother, Stephan, is married to a Pakistani girl from Karachi. He is on a world tour and making a travel show about peace and global unity named ‘Difrent’.
While crooning Mohammad Rafi’s Chaudvin ka chand from the old Indian film of the same name, he shared an amusing story about his wedding day in this very city five years ago.
“With the help of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, I managed to hide a violin behind the stage. I was not supposed to know any Urdu at the time but I had learned this song and then when the bride came out and everyone thought we would be sitting quietly; I brought out that violin to start singing it to her. This is how I disturbed the whole wedding programme,” he laughingly said.
He wasn’t the sole performer at the concert. Ustad Salamat Hussain, too, played some tunes on his flute. “I am glad Stephan found me and included me in his programme. I’ll take you to different countries through my tunes now,” he said before starting to play.
But instead he ended up putting everyone almost to sleep and Stephan had to come back quickly to rescue the audience.
He sang his famous anti-war anthem The bell, which he had written after 9/11.
In between he encouraged the boys and girls gathered there to write messages of peace on placards which they could raise during the recording of the song Love, make the world go round, taped by his crew for his travel show.
The song was the main reason behind holding the Light the World concert in the first place. Stephan said he wrote it in Baghdad last year, where he sang it for the first time, too. It was so well-received that it went viral. Then earlier this year, he sang it in a church in New York. Abu Mohammad and his qawwals also joined him in New York, where they planned to record the song in Karachi, with young people who are leaders in their own right.
He said at the concert that it had been an amazing past three weeks here, when he teamed up with the Ida Rieu School and College for Deaf and Blind in Karachi, the Arts Council of Pakistan, the National Academy of Performing Arts, students of government schools as well as the Aman Tech and the Aman Foundation to rehearse with them.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for the Ida Rieu students to come and sing live at the concert with him but Stephan had recordings of the rehearsals to play on the big screen so they were there in spirit.
“The blind children sing like angels and the deaf sang with me in sign language,” Stephan shared with his audience.
But before singing the song which he also recorded for his travel show, Stephan kept his audience fully engaged with songs in various languages while playing his guitar and violin. “I decided to sing in as many languages as I could today,” he joked.
A French song he sang had a bit of mention about Karachi. “So if you don’t know French, let’s see if you can hear when I say ‘Karachi’ in my song,” he challenged his audience.
And then all the qawwals with their tabla and harmonium also came up on the stage and had everyone enthralled with Duma dum mast qalandar followed by Stephan joining them for the grand finale Love, make the world go round, which was also sung with its Urdu translation by Amer Jafri Mohabbat se dunya ravaan hai dawaan hai/mohabbat ki awaaz shamil karo.
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2014