Oussama Rahbani is the youngest son of Mansour Rahbani who is one of the legendary Rahbani Brothers. He was born in Lebanon on December 9 1965. Growing up in the Rahbani household, music was a big part of Oussama's life from very early on . From age 8, he studied piano and music theory with the renowned teacher Hagop Arslanian.
When he reached the age of 18, Oussama got interested in Jazz after hearing his cousin Ziad's recording "Houdou' Nisbi", an attempt at fusing Jazz with Arabic music. After that, he discovered Jazz pianist Chick Corea whose music was to be a major influence on him. At the same time, he got heavily into the works of classical composers Stravinsky, Mozart and Mahler. Another great area of interest for Oussama was film music .He was fascinated by the work of composers John Williams, Bernard Herman, Miklos Rosza and Ennio Morricone to name a few. Between 1986 and 1989, he was a member of the Beirut band "Jazz Gate". The group put together a series of successful concerts like the "History of Jazz" concert in 1987 and the "Winter Concert 89".
The Debut CD
Oussama spent some time outside Lebanon during the fighting of 89/90 and ended up taking some courses at the famed Berklee School of Music in 1990. During this time, he was writing a lot of music and forming a lot of the ideas that were to surface later on his recorded works. At about this time, Oussama started listening to Pop/Rock/R&B music and took a special interest in the "video clip" phenomenon. Particularly, the music of Sting had a great impact on him. By 1994, Oussama was ready to take a stab at "commercial" music in Lebanon. He got together with his cousin, Rock singer Ghassan Rahbani and the two released a CD entitled Buzzi-War. The 2 standout tracks on that album were composed by Oussama. Both songs, "Qussitna Bi Hal Mujtamaa" and "Baladiyyet Beirut" were sung by Ghassan. They both had social messages and were made into video clips that were different from any made in Lebanon up to that time.
The New Order
In the meantime, Oussama was writing and composing music constantly. He wrote the music for various theatrical events ranging from plays to dance recitals. He was also recording and writing jingles for advertising when he felt the circumstances were right. In 1996, he began working on the music that was to be on the CD "New Order" or "Annitham Ajjadid". In co-operation with his father Mansour, who wrote most of the lyrics, Oussama composed the songs having 2 vocalists in mind. Their names are Carole Samaha and Lorette Helou. Carole and Lorette not only have an incredible singing range but also have the capability of executing Oussama's ideas. They sing Western jazz/pop-influenced songs with Arabic lyrics without losing the distinctly Lebanese feel that both their voices and the lyrics have.
The Video Clips
Two video clips have so far been made from this latest CD, "Haida Libnan" and "Lazim Ghayyer Annitham". The latter clip caused a lot of controversy when the government banned it. Oussama worked hard to reverse the ban and managed to do that after giving loads of interviews to the press in which he tried to explain what was meant by the song. Like his previous clips, these two managed to set a new standard in the Lebanese video clip industry.
The Last Days Of Socrates
In February 1998, Mansour Rahbani's musical "Akher Ayyam Socrate" or "The Last Days of Socrates" finally opened. For this epic production, Oussama composed parts of the music and provided some of the orchestration. The soundtrack, in which Oussama takes great pride, was performed by the Kiev Symphony Orchestra.
The year 1999 saw the release of a CD entitled "Oussama Goes To The Theater". The album is a collection of pieces that he composed for musical plays by his father and his brothers, Marwan and Ghadi, along with the compositions that he provided for the two dance troups "Karakalla" and "Rimah". Oussama also released another 2 CDs. They are soundtracks that he composed for the two TV series "Al Ausaj" and "Al Maut Al Kadim Ila al-Sharq".
A new CD was released to coincide with the new millenium under the title "Bi Sabah Al-Alf Al-Thalith" (On The Morning of the Third Millenium). The CD, released under the name of Mansour Rahbani, is made up of 6 tracks. On three of those, the music was composed and arranged by Oussama and a fourth one, the Mansour-composed title track, was arranged by him as well. The CD is actually a showcase for singer Carole Samaha who sings on all six. Carole is one of the two super-talented singers previously featured on Oussama's CD "Annitham Al-Jadid". She was also one of the featured performers in the stage production of Mansour's musical "The Last Days of Socrates". A video clip accompanied the release of this CD. In it we see Oussama conducting the orchestra while Carole is singing.
In the year 2000, Oussama's musical play about the last days in the life of Jesus Christ "Wa Quama Fil Youm At-thalith" was a big success. Oussama composed and arranged all the music. The script is by his father Mansour. It was musically inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar but is in fact different in the historical/religious interpretation of the story of Christ. The play is a departure from all the other Rahbani musicals. The music is fresh, modern and exciting and combines elements of contemporary Western music (Rock, Funk, Jazz) with Orchestral and Oriental music. But it retains the very Lebanese flavour that characterises all the music that has come from the Rahbani family. It featured Ghassan Saliba as Christ, Ghassan Rahbani as Judas and Carol Samaha as Mary Magdalene.
If you would like to e-mail Oussama Rahbani, click here. If you want to contact the keeper of this site, e-mail Walid Itayim.
Page updated March 1, 2000