Emirati 'really surprised' as his song plays on CSI

Exposure on popular serial drama could give him the boost he needs to prosper internationally.

DUBAI // The new season of the popular US crime drama CSI will feature a track by an Emirati musician.

Rebirth, the title track of Hamdan Al Abri's debut album, featured on the soundtrack of season 12's third episode, which was broadcast in the US in October and is to air in the UAE on OSN in July.

"I was really surprised by it," said Al Abri, 30. "My manager Rebecca Brianceau listed the track with a Canadian licensing company that works with major television and film producers and after one week they aired the track on the show."

Al Abri is best known in local music circles for his work with his band, Abri, which was nominated for "best Arabia act" at the 2008 MTV European Music awards (the gong instead went to the Lebanese-Canadian singer Karl Wolf, who, like Al Abri, had attended the International School of Choueifat in Sharjah).

Al Abri had started the band with Julian Symes after returning from his studies at the Miami International University of Art and Design.

"When Julian and I first started playing together people were kind of sceptical, thinking 'This is a Dubai band that is not performing covers?'" he said. "Our first gig was at the Dubai Country Club and people were just quiet after our first performance. But as we continued the applause got louder."

The band released its first album, Sun Child, in 2006 but the group parted ways in 2009 after spending almost a year in London recording their second album, Blank Notes.

"I came back to kick-start my solo career and, after collaborating with Yasser Abderson, Rebirth was created."

Al Abri, born and bred in the UAE, inherited his love of music from his Swahili father, who brought Tarab music to the country in 1968.

"He picked up music as a child and he always sang with me at the gatherings we held," said his father, Mukrim Al Abri.

"I have always had music around me," said the younger Al Abri. "Listening to my dad's music really influenced me."

The Radio One presenter Simon "Schoolie" Philip describes Al Abri's music as having a "trademark sound".

"As someone who has been in the game for over 22 years, you know when there's a voice that is a game changer," he said. "Vocally, he has a range that is unique and he genuinely has something to say. He's a true student of the game."

"From here on out it's about the correct exposure and putting Hamdan on the level where he can compete," he added.

"As long as his team can provide the right platforms for him to shine, there's no reason why he won't catch the ears of top players in the industry."