Antiwar Band Tours Mideast With State Dept. Backing

Ozomatli incorporates Arab musician's beats into its Latin music
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2007 6:17 AM CDT
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(Newser) – In an effort to bolster its image in Muslim countries, the US is sending a group of Los Angeles musicians to the Arab world as cultural ambassadors. The band Ozomatli, whose members frequently bash Bush administration policies and the Iraq war, is touring the Mideast on the government's dime, drawing appreciative crowds and fielding questions about US foreign policy.

Ozomatli weaves Middle Eastern and North African rhythms into its funk-infused music, making it a natural choice for the mission, and is drawing crowds of thousands in its current sweep through Egypt. "I'm totally willing to give a different image of America than America has given over the last 5 years," says saxophonist Ulises Bella.