Salman Ahmad, founder, lead guitarist and singer of the band Junoon, has been described as the “Bono of Asia” – but to world music lovers who have followed Ahmad’s social activist and Sufi rock career – Bono is called the “Salman Ahmad of Europe.”
The internationally acclaimed band, Junoon, will perform live in concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 18 at the Kimball Theatre, located at Merchant’s Square in Colonial Williamsburg. The concert, part of William & Mary’s Asian Studies Initiative Silk Road Event Series, is free and open to the public. Tickets are required for admission.
Junoon’s blend of Western rock and Sufi music has been a sensation throughout Europe and the Subcontinent, selling more than 30 million albums worldwide since 1990. Tamara Sonn, Kenan professor of humanities and religious studies and co-coordinator of the event, said the concert is an opportunity for individuals unaware of world music to expand their perspectives.
“Listeners will learn that world music is not just entertainment – it’s social engagement with the problems facing humanity across the globe,” she said. “Junoon is a fascinating combo of really good metal, similar to Led Zeppelin and Van Halen, combined with the rich heritage of Sufi music from all over Asia, including Turkey, Persia/Iran, Central Asia, South Asian and Southeast Asian.”
Ahmed is widely known for his humanitarian efforts as a UN Goodwill Ambassador and advocate for HIV/AID awareness. He has collaborated with Bono of U2, Peter Gabriel, founder of the rock band Genesis, and two-time Grammy award winning artist Melissa Etheridge, to raise money and awareness for global wellness projects.
Recently, he composed and recorded a special song for Pakistan Flood relief titled “Open Your Eyes.” All proceeds from song downloads will go to the Pakistan flood relief through their charity organization, Salman and Samina Global Wellness Initiative (SSGWI).
The Asian Studies Initiative Silk Road Event Series
The concert and campus visit by Junoon is part of the College’s recently launched Asian Studies Initiative and its Silk Road Series. The initiative is a long-term project to support Asian Studies at the College of William & Mary. Faculty members with expertise in the region have collaborated to restructure existing majors in East Asian Studies and Middle Eastern Studies into a newly integrated multidisciplinary degree program in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES) that also features a new South Asian minor. The new program – which includes the study of history, politics, religion, literature, fine and media arts, performative arts, expressive and ritual culture, and the major languages of the region – highlight cross-regional issues, themes, and practices that get overlooked in traditional “area studies” frameworks. The series is named after the Silk Road, a well-known interconnected network of trade routes linking East, South and Western Asia, and is sponsored by the Freeman Foundation Asian Studies Undergraduate Initiative, the Critchfield Endowment, and the College of William & Mary.
The event is free but tickets are required. Contact the Kimball box office for tickets.