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And now for something totally different – Pakistani pop. That might seem a flippant way to introduce cousins Zeb Bangash and Haniya Aslam, who hail from Peshawar, Pakistan, but it gets at the essence of why they will be performing in concerts on the University of Akron campus and downtown in Lock 3 on September 7-8.

L to R: Zeb Bangash and Haniya Aslam. Photo from www.zebandhaniya.com

Zeb and Haniya were steeped in an international array of music in their young lives. Haniya has said, “We heard everything: old Bollywood filmi [a style of Indian popular music], folk music from all over, and even American and British rock from our cousins.” They were imbued in the live music scene in their native city and heard “lots of Afghani musicians performing,” Haniya added. For her part, Zeb (rhymes with Abe) commented, “Everyone around us was a music lover.”

With that background, the women are reportedly opening new avenues for Americans to understand and appreciate Pakinstan’s northwestern regions. The cousins sing easy listening stuff, but acoustic music that has a global sensibility underlying sounds from the eastern edge of Central Asia.

Zeb and Haniya in Coke Studio Pakistan. Photo from www.zebandhaniya.com

Zeb and Haniya, along with a band of young Pakistani rock and jazz musicians, open their United States tour with a performance at the University of Akron in Guzzetta Recital Hall. The concert is co-sponsored by the university’s Office of Inclusion and Equity/Chief Diversity Office and the Confucius Institute, in collaboration with Akron International Friendship. The tour is presented by Center Stage – an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to bring compelling contemporary artists from Haiti, Indonesia and Pakistan to the United States to engage Americans in cultural diplomacy.

Zeb and Haniya will also perfom amidst several ethnic and international groups during the inaugural Global Village Festival of Greater Akron at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. The purpose of this event is to unite people from all cultures, sponsors have said, while celebrating our commonalities and differences through performing arts, music, dance, song, authentic ethnic foods, visual arts, interactive and educational exhibits and a global marketplace.

Zeb and Haniya will appear on Friday, September 7 at 8 p.m. at the University of Akron’s Guzzetta Recital Hall, 157 University Ave., Akron; 330-972-8301; www.uakron.edu/music/calendars-and-news. They will also perform on Saturday, September 8 at 1:45 p.m. at Lock 3, 200 S. Main St., Akron; 330-375-2877. For more information, visit www.centerstageUS.org and www.akrongvf.org. Admission to both events is free.

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