Gig Seeker Pro


Band World


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"An achiever blessed with a musical talent"

“Christiane has demonstrated to a whole generation in the Boston area the charm, sophistication and elaborate technique involved in classical Arabic music. Her projects don’t only make musical sense, but they demonstrate a supreme example of harmony in our mixed global community. She will be remembered for her musical contributions.”

- Jamey Haddad- Drummer, Percussionist (Dave Liebman, Simon Shaheen, Paul Simon)

"An uncommon vision"

“A person of vision, perseverance, and uncommon intelligence. Through her voice and stage presence, and through her leadership, she honors the other musicians with whom she works, the audience that hears her, and people in distant places struggling for dignity and security.”
- Dr. Sheila Katz- Middle East Historian (Author of "Women and gender in early Jewish and Palestinian


“...Following was Christiane Karam’s very original piece “Breathe”,
which featured an extremely tight band. “Breathe” was gorgeous! Christiane came out and shook her groove thang, which the crowd ate up.”
- Natasha Bishop, The Groove

"A journey to remember!"

"Christiane Karam and ZilZALA take you on a sensuous sound journey...You'll start on the narrow winding streets of Beirut and Damascus, hop a caravan ride through the desert, make a stop at a cinema in Cairo and, from there, they might lead you...just about anywhere!"
- Hankus Netsky, New England Conservatory

"A mesmerizing performance"

"As you sang, I could feel my soul lifting up, moving down and around with the waves of your voice ever so softly. The waves of your voice were the waves of the sea; ever so softly touching my soul, and ever so carefully pushing my being from one wave to another.Thank you so much for sharing such God given talent with us all... " - Sefer Ozdemir, Turkish Culture House


"... To stand in the center of beautiful musicians playing beautiful music. All dressed in black and grey. Sitting together in a semi circle like wonderful friends from years and years. Nodding at each other and smiling at each other. The warm wooden floor. With warm brown musical instruments. Some silver and shiny even. Lit by a row of mellow lights. Such purity. Such clarity. Such a terrible rarity. How magnificent is that. It really really is. Christiane stood in the middle of them, with no instrument but her voice. And she led them along this magical path of purity and substance. Her struggle has been long and very very hard. But this, i would imagine, is one of the rare moments we spend all our lives for.
Today I witnessed Oneness with music. Not only by her, but by every musician sitting there. Such heart-felt, absolute oneness. It has made me realize that there is nothing in this world that I want to have, but that. And from here on, there is nothing that I won't do to achieve that. I live only for this absolute spiritual oneness with Him and with His music.
For Chrisitiane's voice, I really really have no words. All I can say is that she is one of the most beautiful, most incredible musicians I have ever met, and I owe her heavily for how she has motivated me and reminded me of my greater cause in life. She has shown me that purity and oneness with music truly does exist, even when shrouded by the shadows of a complex world. " - Arooj Aftab- Modern Guitar Magazine

"In Focus: Christiane Karam"

War is on the horizon again, peace is considered unpatriotic, and all I hope is that Berklee can produce more women like Christiane Karam. A songwriting and film scoring major in her last semester, Karam has seen her share of war growing up in Lebanon. However, she is far from beaten. She has a ready laugh and open arms that truly embrace her culture. She also has more ambition than is good for one person. Karam started the Middle Eastern Music Club in '99 and the Shades of Orient Concert Series in the summer of '01. These programs are meant to foster peace and understanding for Eastern diversity. In response, she was given the Recognition Awarded for Contribution to International Goodwill and Understanding at the International Folk Festival. She has increased awareness of Middle Eastern music and instrumentation immensely at Berklee and even traveled to West Africa to study drumming, dancing, and singing with Berklee's West African Ensemble.

Christiane is an incredible musician in her own right. She won the USA Songwriting Competition in '01 in the world category and was interviewed on VH1. Her band, ZilZALA, plays contemporary arrangements of traditional Middle Eastern music and she has been in the WMN concerts, International Music Festivals, and the Berklee Pop/Rock show. Though originally a classical pianist, she is now a vocalist doing workstudy in the vocal department and perforning in Berklee's Gospel Choir. All the while she has maintained a 3.85 GPA and been on the President's Council Committee.
To add to this laundry list of nauseantingly good achievements, Karam has a science degree in nutrition, with a minor in psychology, and is now looking at graduate schools to study Jazz and World music.

Karam was intense when offered a chance to thank those who, as she puts it, "litterally shaped me. Who I owe who I am musically to." As a leader for diversity, Karam notes that every teacher and influence at Berklee meant the world to her, but she thanks two personally. Jamey Haddad, faculty percussionist of Lebanese descent, made her aware of where she needed to go with her talent when she first arrived. After he helped her in the door, Ed Tomassi, a Berklee Jazz Performance teacher, took over and truly sculpted Karam's musical world with her.

For all of us that feel making music is all the creativity we have in us, look at Karam and dream of making a difference. Her music broadens our understanding of what true creativity is and how meaningfully it can be used, and her actions back it all up.

You can see Karam and ZilZALA perform at the Berklee Performance center in March 12, and also in the upcoming WMN concert.
- Marimikel Charrier, The Berklee Groove

"A world of Sound: The Middle East"

The Middle Eastern ensemble, led by vocalist Christiane Karam (above), skillfully recreated the music of the Middle East, with its intricate rhythms and distinctive "maqams," or modes. The group was composed of 10 students from Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Greece, and Brazil. They performed three songs, using authentic instrumentation, including "nay" (flute), "ud" (lute), "riqq" (tambourine) and "darbouka" (hand drum).

"Hibbi Daane," which means "my lover invited me," was originally a poem in Arabic, set to music by Egyptian composer Sayyed Darwish. Karam's performance of the song contained a vocal improvisation known as a "layali" in which the singer modulated through various maqams. The final maqam in the series, the "bayati," segued into the key of the song that followed, "Aala Baladil Mahboub," or "to the country of my beloved."
The group also performed "Alf Layla Wa Layla," which means "one thousand and one nights." "Alf Layla," written by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi, is based on the tale of Scheherazade. Over the years, the song has become very popular among belly dancers because of the diverse rhythms and scales. To illustrate this tradition, the ensemble invited the belly dancer Najmat to join them on stage.

- Sarah Godcher Murphy, Berklee News

"Christiane Karam's Shades of Orient"

For recent American Songwriting Competition winner Christiane Karam, putting the Shades of Orient concert has become so much as an extension of the traditions that fostered her musical upbringing. Staged for the first time in the summer of 2001, the event has found its way into the Berklee calendar on three previous occasions. Its success and warm reception by musicians and enthusiasts may be attributed to the authentic, wel-rehearsed rendition of an orchestrated and meticulously arranged assortment of Middle Eastern music.

The fourth Shades of Orient concert, held last thursday at the Lawrence and Alma Berkl Recital Hall, enjoyeda healthy attendance that bore witness to the broad enthusiasm for the music of the exotic, 12-piece ensemble led by the Lebanese-born singer, composer and arranger. The performance starred some veterans of this event, including Karim Nagi Mohammed (percussion), Dimitris Mikelis ('ud), Anastassia Zachariadou (kanun, flutes), Theodoulos Vakanas (violin); the line-up also featured newcomers Omar Harb (bass), and Albert Agha (voice, 'ud).

The two debuting musicians, both syrian of origin, were key ingredients to the overall chemistry of the group. Harb's tasteful combinations of pulsating staccato lines and quarter-tonal slide embellishments united the song form in both its rhythmic and harmonic aspects.
Facilitating the common call-and-response form of Middle Eastern music, his countryman, acting as the group's co-singer, poetically acknowledged the well-trained, subtly melismatic voice of Karam while plucking out rapid, alternate string patterns on his 'ud. A tightly interwoven second 'ud played by Dimitris Mikelis of Greece fueled the vibrant and texturally dense quality of the music. The string section, made up of the multi-ethnic quartet pof Peter Walden (cello), Lorena Ruis (cello), Theodoulos Vakanas (violin), and Eylem Basaldi (violin), poured out lush vertical structures, but also served to complement by way of imitation the soaring vocal lines of Karam. A wonderful embellishment to the overall sound, Zulfigar Baghirov's clarinet would occasionally interject melodic phrases full of characteristic Middle Eastern inflection. Both, visually and aurally intriguing, the horizontal harp-like kanun of Greek-born Anastassia Zachariadou breathed a tinge of exoticism into the orchestral timbre by providing stunning adlibs and fluid picking patterns. The rhythmic and structural backbone of the ensemble was established by the steady and imaginative performance of percussionist Karim Mohammed. His skill on the darbouka and the riqq reflected the Egyptian's sensitive implementation of what could be described as a finger-and-hand art. Tony Escapa, a Puerto Rican cajon and frame drummer, joined Mohammed in the later half of the concert and gave an impressive, poly-rhythmic solo during one of the pieces.

The repertoire included five pieces of various origins, including one Andalusian song, and a pair of Lebanese and Egyptian works. All of the pieces were sung in Arabic, but featured different dialects, as well as classical and colloquial forms of the language. While each musical selection bore its unique charm, the highlight of the concert was the classical Egyptian suite "Alf Layla Wa Layla". Its many movements consisted of long instrumental passages, stirring rhythms, and intermittent vocalization by Karam, who displayed a respectable proficiency in the Egyptian "Tarab" ("Ecstasy") style.

To broaden the cultural experience, Karam brought in a belly dancer in the final minutes of the show. The sensual nature of her pseudo-Middle Eastern gyrations gave a slightly humorous impression that contrasted the predominantly solemn nature of the rest of the performance. To add to the sensory experience, Karam and the Student Activities Center served a buffet of delectable Middle Eastern finger food after the show.

Overall, Karam's effort to import and share her rich culture with the Berklee community must be commended. Shades of Orient is a true show of diversity and the result of an extensive study of the Middle Eastern musical traditions. It comes to show that there is a lot more to be found in the region's ancient culture than the overwhelmingly negative news of the present times. - Philip Darjes, The Groove

"Songwriter has come a long way from wartime Beirut"

If there’s one thing Christiane Karam can remember with absolute clarity about her childhood is that she’s always been passionate about music.
Some 20 years later, that unwavering passion is still there and has finally taken her to well-deserved pinnacles of recognition: Karam is the first Lebanese to ever win the USA Songwriting Competition.
“I remember when I was a little girl, I was really fascinated with melodies and sounds; I was curious about everything”, recalls the 29-year old, speaking from Boston, her home for the past 3 years. “I thought there actually were little men with instruments inside the radio who sang the songs and everytime a song ended, I’d actually flip the radio around and wait for them to come out”.
They never did- but that had little impact on Karam’s enthusiasm and devotion to music. At the age of eight and just three months after beginning classical piano lessons, she got her first taste of performing in front of a live audience. “That was my first stage experience and I guess I’ve been hooked ever since”, she says of the performance, held at AUB’s Assembly Hall.
For Karam, music was an escape from the harsh environment that was the Beirut of her youth. With war and violence all around her, she found peace in music. “I listened to songs, wrote melodies and lyrics, practiced piano, and that made me very happy,” she recalls. “I started writing songs very early; I used to write lyrics first and then try to set them to music”. However, she never entered a competition while growing up in Beirut; it was, she says, too difficult. “I was really doing a lot, but I still felt I needed to be in a more positive musical environment”. She applied to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, got accepted and later got a scholarship. “So I stayed”, says Karam, who is enrolled in a jazz songwriting program and film scroring, and is studying Classical Arabic music with renowned New-York based musician Simon Shaheen. “ I won a couple of awards here at Berklee and one of my songs made the finals at last year’s USA Songwriting Competition”, she says, adding that it wasn’t until she got to the United States that she began to appreciate Arabic music.
This year, however, she went all the way. “I’m Alive”, a song she wrote in Beirut a couple of years ago, won the First Prize of the World Category. “Winning the competition meant a lot to me, both personally and professionally”, says Karam. “I’ve probably written about 20 songs since I’ve been here; only seven or eight of which I’ve actually recorded. The I’m Alive project was a big investment; it was a big pop-dance thing and the songs on the album reflect that. Most of my other stuff is a little different- not as pop-oriented”.
Winning was even sweeter because Karam represented Lebanon in the competition. “It makes me really happy when we represent something positive for the whole world to see... our image was so negative for so many years, it’s really nice to be able to contribute to change that”.
“I’d really like to return to Lebanon at some point and bring what I’ve learned with me. The music scene has come a long way in Beirut and I’d like to be part of its evolution... There’s so much talent in Lebanon; it’s amazing.”
She’s not certain just what’s next. The only thing she is sure of now is completing the jazz program in which she’s enrolled. After that, she may try New York for inspiration... then maybe back to Beirut.
“I think what I try to convey is a message of life, of love. A lot of things were very difficult for me during the war, and I think what really helped me was to keep dreaming; I also gained courage from the songs I listened to. So I feel very committed towards those out there who are struggling and I’d like to think that my words could make a difference,” she said.
Since discovering the beauty of her native song, Karam also has an interest in promoting Arabic music in the US. “We have such a wonderful legacy. I really feel very strongly about getting it out there”. - May Farah- The Daily Star


I'm Alive (The Christiana Jade Project) EP
The Dorm Sessions II (Heavy Rotation Records)
Songs of The People, Christiane Karam & the ZilZALA Ensemble



Led by acclaimed vocalist / arranger Christiane Karam, the ZilZALA Middle Eastern Ensemble is a Boston-based World Music band that draws from several musical cultures to re-interpret classical, traditional and folk Arabic Music. Instrumentation includes voice,’ud, kanun, buzuki, violin, cello, bass, trumpet, flugelhorn, soprano sax, nay, clarinet,flute as well as various percussion instruments (frame drums, zils, cajon, cymbals, djembe, udu, riqq, darbouka). The outcome is a powerful and uplifting blend of Eastern and Western influences that range from Lebanese, Egyptian, Turkish, Greek and North African grooves and melodies, to contemporary Jazz harmonies, that creates a truly unique musical experience. The ZilZALA Ensemble has been playing to packed houses in Boston and New York, bringing together music lovers from the Middle East with a western audience that is eager to learn about and enjoy the exotic middle eastern rhythms and melodies. ZilZALA has headlined at venues such as Ryles Jazz Club, the Berklee Performance Center, Club Passim, The Zeitgeist Gallery,Tagine & Drom in New York City. ZilZALA have been featured several times on WMBR (88.1 FM), in Cambridge, and won runner-up for Best World Music Act in the 2006 Phoenix Best Music Poll- and were nominated again in 2007. The ensemble owes the richness of its sound and its colorful interpretations of traditional Middle Eastern music to the diversity of its musicians' musical and cultural backgrounds (Brazil, Italy, Columbia, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, the US, Canada, Lebanon and more!).

At age sixteen, founder Christiane Karam earned a diploma in classical piano from Tekelyan School of Music in Beirut, where she was raised during Lebanon's civil war. She went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a Certificate in Psychology, while performing in local bands, writing and teaching music. She came to Boston in 1998 to study film scoring, songwriting and voice at the Berklee College of Music, on scholarship, and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a dual degree. While at Berklee, Christiane won First Prize in the 2001 USA Songwriting Competition's World Music Category, for her song "I'm Alive", and Honorable Mention the following year for her song "Breathe", which was subsequently released on Heavy Rotation Records in February 2004. Another song, "Place In The Sun" placed Christiane as a finalist in the 'Electronic' category of the 2003 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and her song "Look up to the sky" was placed finalist in both competitions. She received a Recognition Award from Berklee for her "Contribution to International Goodwill and Understanding" in March 2002, for producing and performing in a Peace Benefit Concert in the aftermath of 9/11 - as part of the "Shades of Orient" concert series she founded in 2000. She also won the SESAC award in March 2003, and her song "Tell me a story" placed finalist in the 2006 USA Songwriting Competition.

Christiane is an Academic Honors Masters graduate in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory, where she was named the Kimball P. Stickney scholar for 2004-2005, and again for the 2005-2006 academic year. Over the years, she has studied with Rima Khcheich, Bassam Saba, Dominique Eade, Ed Tomassi, Hal Crook, Jerry Bergonzi, Frank Carlberg, Hankus Netsky, Jamey Haddad, Simon Shaheen, Tatiana Sarbinska, Rhiannon, Bernard Woma, Jeannette Lovetri, and Bobby McFerrin.

Along with leading the ZilZALA Ensemble, which will be releasing its debut record "Songs of the People" in the fall of 2009, Christiane frequently performs with various projects and bands in Boston and New York, and has shared the stage with the likes of Yanka Rupkina, .Wav, Ran Blake, Bassam Saba, Atlas Soul, the NY Gypsy All-Stars, Joey Blake, George Megardichian, Tatjana Srbinska (during the Divi Zheni Bulgarian tour in 2005), and last year had the privilege to perform at Carnegie Hall with Bobby McFerrin and 19 other vocalists from around the world for the premiere of "Instant Opera!". More recently she had the pleasure of participating in Istanbulive 2009, alongside clarinet greats Husnu Senlenderici and Vassilis Saleas.

Christiane has headlined and/or performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Celebrate Brooklyn!, SummerStage, Drom, The Berklee Performance Center, the Ryles Jazz Club, the Gardner Museum, the Blagoevgrad State Opera House, the Bread & Roses Festival, the Plovdiv Academy of Music, the Hard Rock Cafe, the Museum of Fine Arts, Babylone, Casablanca, Balkan Music Night, NEFFA, and the Koprivshtitsa Festival, among others. She continues to expand her collaborations and in the Spring of 2010, will join the Assad Brothers, alongside Clarice Assad and Jamey Haddad on the road, for the musical adventure "De Volta As Raizes" which will explore the connection between Brazilian and Lebanese music.

In 2008, Christiane was invited to join Bobby McFerrin in the Thirteen/PBS documentary "