Music to be an “integral part of Yemen’s development”
Fuad Al-Sharjabi is one of the most effective of Yemen's artists at supporting and preserving the country's musical heritage.
In 2007, Al-Sharjabi established the Yemen Music House (YMH) and committed his time to the project. He even put his work as a composer and musical distributor on hold to dedicate himself to YMH activities.
The Yemen Music House is a public association that was established with the aim of collecting and documenting songs and recording them. The YMH is also working to collect and save traditional Yemeni musical instruments.
It's one of the few places that provides people with professional musical training in Yemen. Many parents have brought their children to the house to have them learn to play musical instruments. One of the children is only 4 years old.
Over the last few years, the Yemen Music House (YMH) has contributed to preparing many youths to become professional pianists, guitarists and lute players. In addition, it has helped many singers produce songs without their having to pay money.
"I'm proud that over 500 male and female students have graduated from YMH since 2007. They now are able to use musical notation well," he said.
When you visit the YMH in Sana'a, you can listen to the sounds of several kinds of instruments being played. Enthusiastic children and youths regularly attend, to sharpen their musical skills and to produce their own songs.
Al-Sharjabi has also taken many young artists under his wing, both training and providing support for them. He has launched campaigns to support Yemeni singers who represent their country in Arab musical competitions.
Al-Sharjabi has turned down generous offers to leave Yemen and work in other countries, but has always declined.
"I refuse to leave Yemen, as I can make many things for my country," he said.
Al-Sharjabi is gearing up to launch a website to host a Yemeni musical library. With concerted effort, he has collected about 40,000 Yemeni songs.
According to Al-Sharjabi, artists are considered leaders in their societies and sees them as representing an integral part of Yemen's development efforts.
"Music reflects people's elegance, and helps them to be modest," he said. "It's the language of love, beauty and humanity."
Al-Sharjabi has aspired to expand the YMH's activities to other cities, but lacks the support he needs to do so. "Instead of thinking about expansion, I now fight for survival."
He criticized producers who support and promote unskilled singers, and opined that such singers contribute to a distortion of the public's taste.
"Unfortunately, some singers want to impose their poor voices on the audience," he said.
Speaking about the large number of singers who have recently appeared on the music scene, he said, "They will finish soon... it's only a temporary situation."
Al-Sharjabi stressed the importance of promoting an interest in music in the coming generation.
He aspires to have music education included in the curricula of primary schools.
“We should work on the next generation," he said.