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Friends since both attended the same university in Bari, Italy, Palestinian vocalist Nabil Salameh and Italian bassist Michele Lobaccaro first started the band Al Darawish in the mid-'80s. In 1997 the duo decided to begin a new group, Radiodervish, which would explore the traditions of both Arabic and Western music. With help from friend and collaborator Alessandro Pipino, who also would play keyboards for the band (while various other musicians would add percussion and strings), Radiodervish released their debut, Lingua Contra Lingua, in 1998. Even though that album won them a Premio Ciampi for Best Debut Album, it wasn't until 2002, when Centro del Mundo came out, that the group began to receive a lot of international attention (thanks to Salameh's 2000 collaboration with Italian pop star Jovannoti on the song "Dolcefarniente," they had already received a fair amount of press and acclaim in their home country). In 2004 In Search of Simurgh, a project conceived by composer, producer, and performer Saro Cosentino, and inspired by 12th century Sufi poet Farid ad-din Attar's The Conference of the Birds, was released, followed two years later by Amara Terra Mia. ~ Marisa Brown