Our Stories – Maine Artists Kerem Durdag & Andy Happel

Everyone has a story. The urge to share our story, to connect with others, is at the root of human nature. Taking one’s own story and making the personal universal is the sacred role of artists.

Weaving tales of family, personal journey, cultures, folklore and immigration – SoulRoar is the creative endeavor of poet/lyricist Kerem Durdag and composer/multi-instrumentalist/music educator Andy Happel. Epic in scale and scope – spanning decades, music styles, and art forms (musical theater flecked with animation and poetry) – SoulRoar, at its heart, is an expansive love story.

Born and raised in Pakistan to Turkish parents and coming to the U.S. to attend college, Kerem has been navigating different cultures all his life. His own journey and work in immigration activism is the driving force behind SoulRoar. What started out as a way of giving voice to his experience is ultimately Kerem’s insatiable and curious impulse to bear witness to humanity.

Podcast Episode 7 Kerem Durdag and Andy Happel with images of each man.

Embedded in this saga for the stage is also a tale of collaboration between two artists, coming together from different worlds and different art forms to create a work that is both deeply personal and transcendent. Kerem and Andy met a couple of decades ago when Kerem was following Andy’s then band, Thanks to Gravity. Years later and in a different state, Kerem’s daughter came home raving about her music teacher, who turned out to be Andy. Here was the world – or as Kerem would say “wheel of life” – bringing them together again across time and distance. The trust, grace and affection between Kerem and Andy cements their relationship as best friends who share a passion for both music and sharing stories.

To hear more of the story of Kerem, Andy and SoulRoar, tune into our podcast series POV and join us next week for their ‘First Look’.