This week, a full house at Cairo Jazz Club grooved along to Paolo Palopoli’s Mediterranean-influenced Neapolitan jazz/funk fusion, Jordanian acoustic rock band SALAM, and DJ Masters @ Funk and percussionist Seif Khirfan at Solidarity of Sounds, a benefit concert organized in cooperation with Italian NGO Voica World and the Canossa Centers.
The proceeds of the Oct. 18 event were donated to the Canossa Centers, which provide various social services to underprivileged communities in greater Cairo in cooperation with Voica World and with funding from the Italian Foreign Ministry.
“The point is to raise some money and to make people aware that [the Canossa Centers] exist and provide a great service to less fortunate people and children,” said Cairo Jazz Club Marketing Manager Sara El-Redy. “We hope that after this event, people will continue to donate [to] or at least become more aware [of] the good causes that are here in Cairo,” she said.
Eleonora Iannotte of the Italian Foreign Ministry echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that, in addition to raising funds, the concert aimed to raise awareness of the Canossa Centers’ services and the difficult circumstances facing the mixed Egyptian and refugee communities they serve.
Given the high incidence of income inequality in Egypt and the lack of awareness among affluent Egyptians of living conditions for the less fortunate, she said, “It’s important for people to understand the realities in Cairo.”
By reaching out through music, she concluded, “Our goal is for Egypt’s elite to increase awareness of what their less fortunate counterparts go through on a daily basis, and to become more involved in improving their society.”
Together with a good cause, the night’s fantastic line up made it easy to stick around. Alluringly down-tempo without inertia, Paolo Palopoli’s band got the evening off to a strong start. The group’s melodic jam-band instrumentals were as soulful as they were energetic, and vocals from Annita Vigilante captivated as they alternated between easy-going and beachy (think “Girl from Ipanema”) and more powerful but equally well-balanced numbers (think Cranberries circa “Zombie”).
Next up, SALAM distinguished itself as one of the rare pure alternative rock acts to pass through Cairo, with sardonic, yet self-aware vocals, (sung in both English and Arabic) and skillful use of fusion as a means of enriching the listener’s experience rather than an end in itself. While the band’s claim that its “variation of styles, instruments and eclectic lyrics” makes each track “original and unique in sound,” may initially sound like a cop-out for an unfocused act, in SALAM’s case this variety is wonderfully executed. The act mixed matter-of-fact acoustic rock with intriguing pairings of Mediterranean strings and percussion for a sound that was not only unique, but also a real pleasure to discover.
For the die-hards out there, DJ Masters @ Funk and Seif Khirfan kept their promise to keep the party going into the wee hours.
Performers voiced gratitude for the opportunity to support a charitable cause through music.
“It is important for musicians to show solidarity and support for this type of project with our music,” said Paolo Palopoli.
“It’s a great cause, and I hope the support continues long after our event,” said Salam Homoud of SALAM. “I hope the funds generated from this event go into education, health awareness and self development. I’ve seen first hand how much of a life changer these things can be.”
Serving communities in Helmyet Al-Zeitoun, Kilo Arbaa Wa Nous and underprivileged areas surrounding Maadi and Abbasya, the Canossa Centers currently focus on skills training and early childhood education. The Canossa Vocational Center offers language courses in Arabic, English, Italian and French and IT and computer skills training. It also conducts awareness raising activities on human rights, health and hygiene and maternal care.
The Canossa Social Center runs a kindergarten for over 300 refugee children, enabling families who have migrated from Upper Egypt or Sudan to place their children in safe care.