Bassel Almadani, lead vocalist for the neo-soul/funk group Bassel & The Supernaturals, moved from his home in Ohio to the city of Chicago in 2010. As a singer/songwriter, the approach he took on his style of his music was profoundly impacted by the Indie-folkish environment in Ohio where he was born and raised. After having moved into his new place, Bassel spent time adjusting to the overwhelming nature of the Windy City while listening to greatly influential musicians. He was deeply moved by legends like Al Greene, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye; additionally, the young artist was particularly inspired by Otis Redding’s hit: “I’ve Got Dreams”. The first time Almadani heard the song, he was taken away by its soulful connection, its story, and its words. This led him to delve into Redding’s life, as he watched documentaries and aimed to master the beautiful art of telling stories through music. Today, Bassel uses his position as a musician to entertain and to advocate on behalf of important topics. As a first-generation Syrian-American, he lets his identity flow through the moving lyrics within his music.
The Supernaturals consist of over 30 talented instrumentalists who have created, performed, and toured across the country together. Although Bassel & The Supernaturals are a large group, their live performances usually only feature 7-9 musicians, depending on band member availability. Taking only 2016 into account, the band played over 50 shows in 30 cities.
Since Almadani’s life has been significantly intertwined with the ongoing war overseas, the band has been led to create songs that encompass a tone of love, loss, and struggle. Recounting such unimaginable experiences lived by those affected by the conflict is no easy task, but the band remarkably tells the story of 10,000,000 men, women, and children through music. Almadani explained, “my immediate family lives in the states, but I’ve also had family killed in Syria. A lot of my family members have lost their homes and belongings. Half of them are still in Aleppo, the other half are scattered across the world trying to figure it out now.” In addition to performing at clubs and festivals around the country, Bassel and his bandmates make efforts to partner with charity organizations and universities nationwide to lead workshops, seminars, and benefit concerts in hopes of spreading awareness of the crisis in Syria.
The band’s most recent album, ‘Elements’, was created with a focus on maintaining a tone that contains a groovy, funky backbone that could still be used to address dark, heavy subjects. Almadani expressed, “there were a lot of crazy obstacles that led to this particular album.” One shocking event that no one expected took place when the group tragically lost Mason Cormie, their bassist, following an unexpected illness. Almadani revealed, “it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience in my life. The morale of the entire group…he was such a close friend of ours and nobody saw it coming. We went right from that into mixing the album and hearing him in everything that we were doing…it was unbelievably difficult.” Although the band had to deal with this hardship, Almadani added, “it also just proved how expansive and strong our community was, the way that people came around us. It just made it that much more important that we did due diligence to his talents and put this album out and did as much as we possibly could to create noise around it.” The final studio recording of this immensely talented musician was featured on ‘Elements’.
Amidst the devastating news of the loss of their loved one, Bassel & The Supernaturals used the release of their debut full-length album as a way to do something positive for humanity as well. They launched a pre-order fundraiser for ‘Elements’ and donated 20% of the earned revenue to the Karam Foundation (https://www.karamfoundation.org/), a well-regarded charity with a mission to build a better future for Syria. In addition, the band donated funds obtained from merchandise sales and other means to the local organization.
By appearing in a multitude of shows and festivals across the nation, advocates like Bassel & The Supernaturals can do what they love by disseminating their music to countless people while also pushing for a good cause. Almadani conveyed, “in a world where music has become so accessible, I think people look for more communal spaces around it to stay connected to one another. I’m finding avenues for us through a lot of colleges, cultural centers, churches… non-traditional spaces where people really care about this message that we’re spreading. As it always has been, I think [music] will be a means for change or revolution, or creating a voice for important issues. I don’t think demand ever goes away for music.”
We wish this immensely talented group loads of success as they continue to release groovy soul-funk music that advocates for a greater humanitarian cause!
Written by Fatima Hasan