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UMS Welcomes Syrian-American Rapper/Poet For Research Residency

The University Musical Society (UMS) welcomes Syrian-American rapper and poet Omar Offendum as the 2018-19 UMS Education and Community Engagement Research Residency Artist. This research residency program, funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to bring performing artists whose work engages with issues of social justice, public practice, or intercultural understanding to the University of Michigan (U-M) campus.

Omar Offendum is a Syrian-American rapper and poet living in Los Angeles. Known for his unique blend of hip-hop and Arabic poetry, he has been featured on prominent world news outlets, lectured at a number of prestigious academic institutions, collaborated with major museums and cultural organizations on several high-profile projects, and helped raise millions of dollars for various humanitarian relief groups. A graduate of the University of Virginia's School of Architecture, Offendum has carved a distinct path for himself as a thoughtful entertainer and activist, able to speak to a multitude of relevant issues and diverse global audiences over the course of his decade-long career.

During this immersive residency, Offendum will draw upon the human, intellectual, and archival resources of the U-M and Southeast Michigan communities to further develop a new album and performance that fuses hip-hop with classical Middle Eastern music forms. While in Ann Arbor, Offendum will share his process and artistic practice with U-M students and faculty, as well as the greater Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan communities, through class visits, workshops, and public talks.

Offendum's first trip to Ann Arbor features a public talk titled "SyrianamericanA: A Nation-State of Mind" on Thursday, October 18 at 4 pm in U-M's Angell Hall (435 S State St, Ann Arbor). Offendum will discuss how he's been able to develop a special blend of hip-hop and Arabic poetry to bridge cultural divides during the rise of social media and socio-political shifts in Syria. The talk is sponsored by U-M's Arab and Muslim American Studies Program.

Offendum will return to campus to continue his research and engagement in February and March of 2019. To learn more about UMS educational programs and future events with Omar Offendum please visit

A recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, UMS (also known as the University Musical Society) contributes to a vibrant cultural community by connecting audiences with performing artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences. One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, UMS is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with U-M, presenting over 70 music, theater, and dance performances by professional touring artists each season, along with over 100 free educational activities. UMS is committed to bold artistic leadership, engaged learning through the arts, and access and inclusiveness. Since 1990, the organization has co-commissioned and supported the production of nearly 80 new or reimagined works. Matthew VanBesien became the organization's seventh president in July 2017.

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