There is an old Tex Ritter song where he imagines going to heaven and hearing the roll call of future Country Western singers. It goes like this:

I met all the stars in hillbilly heaven
Oh what a star-studded night

Then I asked him who else do you expect in the next, uh, say a hundred years? He handed me a large book covered with star dust. Will called it the Big Tally Book. In it were many names and each name was branded in pure gold. I began to read some of them as I turned the pages: Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, Gene Autry, Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Tennessee Ernie, Jimmy Dean, Andy Griffith, Roy Rogers, Kareem Salama
Whaaaatttt???
Kareem Salama? Oh, well, that’s when I woke up, and I’m sorry I did, because
I dreamed I was there in hillbilly heaven
Oh what a beautiful sight…

OK, so the original lyrics did not include Kareem Salama, but if Dolly Parton can rearrange the song, why can’t I? So who is Kareem Salama, you ask?

Born in Oklahoma of Egyptian parents, Kareem is a contemporary Country Western singer with an accent and a twang. He has two albums out already. One is called “This Life of Mine.” As you might expect, the quickest way to hear Kareem is on Youtube, including an interview about his Muslim faith on Fox News. Whether or not you like Country Western (it is hard to find a live hillbilly singer these postmodern Nashville days), you should listen to Kareem. My favorite is a war song with compelling lyrics, “Brothers in Passing.”

Baby, I’m A Soldier
by Kareem Salama

He was a soldier who’d only been married two or three years ago
And he put his hands on her knees that night and he said I gotta go
She said why would you leave this home and me; I thought I was your baby girl
And he wiped away the tears from her eyes and said they’re sending me to save the world
And you know I love you and I pray to God that he’ll join us once again
But now its time for this simple man to be one of the few good men

(Chorus)
Cause baby I’m a soldier and I hear those trumpets calling again
And our kings and queens are saying this is a fight we must win
For truth and justice and for the way we live our life
And baby I’m a soldier in front of God I swore I would fight

Across the ocean and miles away there stood another man
Eighteen years, hugging his mama saying I’ll defend this land
Mama held her baby and cried and clutched him telling him not to leave
She said what will I do without my baby boy; son I’m begging you please
He said I love you mama but duty calls; I’ll write you everyday
She said I lost your daddy like this and I don’t wanna lose you this way

(Chorus)
But Mama I’m a soldier and I hear those trumpets calling again
And our kings and queens are saying this is a fight we must win
For truth and justice and for the way we live our life
And Mama I’m a soldier in front of God I swore I would fight

Well the battle raged and shots rang out the two men fell to the ground
And they looked into the eyes of each other and were shocked at what they found

One man saw the mother of the other in that young mans eyes
And the other man saw the crying and screams of the other mans beloved wife
And the two men stared across that smoky field and whispered to each other
Maybe you weren’t the demon they said maybe you were really my brother
But I’m glad we’re passing cause I don’t think that I could forgive myself
For fighting you but maybe God will and we can live together in bliss

(Chorus)
Cause Ladies we were soldiers and we heard those trumpets calling again
And tell the kings and queens that sometimes there are fights no one wins
But we know for sure that there’s evil out there we must fight
But please be sure that this is one of those times
And please be sure to remember my mama and wife
And please be sure to think of my brother on the other side.