Christiane Karam

Balkan music
Middle Eastern music

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Christiane Karam’s unique vocal style stems from her love for different musical traditions. She is the leader of the acclaimed Pletenitsa Balkan Choir and has had the privilege of sharing the stage with the likes of Hüsnü Senlendirici, Javier Limón, the Assad Brothers, Binka Dobreva, and Vadim Neselovskyi, among others. She has performed at venues and festivals, such as Carnegie Hall, SummerStage, Celebrate Brooklyn!, Symphony Space, and the Koprivshtitsa Folklore Festival, among others. She has also been featured on PBS and VH1.

In addition to performing, Karam is an award-winning songwriter and composer. She's a staunch activist for cultural understanding, tolerance, and nonviolent conflict resolution. Currently on the faculty of Berklee College of Music, where she teaches in the Voice, Ensemble, and Songwriting departments, she is the founder and leader of the annual Berklee Middle Eastern Festival and actively continues her work to bring awareness and positive social change through music and the arts. Karam also performs and teaches around the world.

Career Highlights
  • Founder, leader, and vocalist of Boston-based world/Middle Eastern music band ZilZALA
  • Founder of the Shades of Orient concert series at Berklee, 2001–2003
  • Cofounder of the Berklee Music and Peace Initiative
  • Founder and leader of the annual Berklee Middle Eastern Festival
  • Collaborations and performances include work with the Assad Brothers, Atlas Soul, Ran Blake, Jamey Haddad, and Bobby McFerrin, among many others 
  • Performances and recordings include work with the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus
  • Solo recordings include the award-winning EP I'm Alive with producer Angel Angelov, and self-produced Songs of the People with ZilZALA
  • Featured on VH1 and PBS
  • Kimball P. Stickney Scholar, New England Conservatory, 2004–2006
  • Latin Grammy nominee for the Pletenitsa Balkan Choir’s collaboration on José Mercé’s Mi Única Llave
  • Finalist, John Lennon Songwriting Contest, 2004
  • Recipient of the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers Award, 2003
  • First prize, USA Songwriting Competition, 2001
  • Phoenix Reader's Poll Award
In Their Own Words

"I deeply believe in music's endless potential to connect us with one another and bring us to this peaceful place of oneness from where we all come. Berklee is a vibrant environment that offers its students a miraculous opportunity for making music across cultures and differences."

"Sound is vibration, and the human voice in particular, when sung from a place of truth, has an incredibly intimate and healing ability to communicate emotion, tell a story, and transform lives. It is a joy and a privilege to assist students in their musical journey and help them awaken to the beauty and potential of their unique gifts. By nurturing these gifts, they find and develop their unique voice and can then sing their truth. And by sharing their truth, they can bring love and healing to the world."

"I've had the privilege of traveling to different musical worlds, starting with my multicultural upbringing and throughout my career, where I made it a point to discover as many parts of the planet as I could, along with their languages, customs, musical cultures, and communities. I'm constantly astounded by the beauty of it all and how connected we all are, underneath the vibrant colors and various vocabularies. It's been my greatest joy exploring many of these languages and bringing them to light in a different way, as well as contributing to new ways they could come together and create new soundscapes. Being part of this incredible tapestry and communicating its endless possibilities to my students is one of the most rewarding aspects of my teaching."