Musician Ridha Ibrahim Outreaches to Deaf People

Tunisian born musician Ridha Ibrahim along with Madonna University produce a video reaching an unlikely audience, deaf people. Kan Ya Makan also stars ASL performer Katie Mann.
By: Suzanne Boyd
Feb. 17, 2010 - PRLog -- LIVONIA, Mich. – A unique music video produced in the Franciscan Studios at Madonna University transcends all language barriers to inspire, entertain and tug the heartstrings of not only the Deaf, but all music lovers. Featuring Tunisian-born singer/songwriter Ridha Ibrahim and Madonna University sign language student Kaitlyn Mann, Kan Ya Makan or Once Upon a Time will premiere at Madonna University, Monday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Hall. Following the video’s debut, there will be a panel discussion regarding all the elements of its creation; including the learning process, technical aspects – video, musical, and sign language, as well as a behind the scenes look at the making of the video.

The impetus for Kan Ya Makan occurred when Ibrahim saw Madonna sign language students performing translations of their favorite songs. Sue Boyd, director/producer of the music video and Franciscan Studios manager at Madonna, welcomed the opportunity to work with Ibrahim. “As a world musician, Ridha works to communicate with all cultures through his music,” she said. “Through Kan Ya Makan, he reaches out to the Deaf community, as his words and melody are communicated through the artistic American Sign Language translation of Katie Mann.”

The song is a love story that blends eastern and western melodies with Arabic lyrics. “Due to my lack of knowledge of Arabic, Ridha and I spent over thirty hours translating the song to English,” said Mann. “This was an opportunity for me to dig deeper than the simple word-for-word approach of transliteration. Ridha explained the song’s deeper meanings and allegories,” wrote Mann in her study guide for the project.

In an effort to match Ibrahim’s musical poetry, Mann enlisted the talents of Dan McDougall, director of Madonna’s Sign Language Studies program to create a poetic American Sign Language interpretation of the song. Each moment of the Kan Ya Makan video contains symbols – words, signs, images – all chosen and combined purposefully.

Music and signs are only part of the video creation. Madonna faculty and students invested 30 hours filming by faculty and students in Madonna’s broadcast and cinema arts program. Then Boyd logged another 200 hours editing, painstakingly matching up frames filled with two languages that she didn’t know. “The result is a video that throws open the door to music for members of the Deaf community,” said Mann.
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