The National Prayer Breakfast is a noteworthy event held each February in Washington and attended by the president, congressmen and other national and international dignitaries — and this year a Johnson City artist will attend.
Mo Sabri is a Johnson City native studying pre-medicine at East Tennessee State University.
But he is also a musician who came on the scene a few years ago. He has received support through YouTube and become popular enough to tour across the country and internationally.
One of his first videos was for his rap “Johnson City.” The song is, of course, about Johnson City and features scenic shots of the countryside and the downtown area.
Recently Sabri wrote a song called “I Believe in Jesus” because he wanted to begin incorporating a message in his music. This rap and others by Sabri can be found on YouTube.
“It was very well received,” he said of his song about Jesus. “That song, it features cameos from Jason Witten, the football player, and Daniel Norris, the baseball player ... who plays for the Toronto Blue Jays.”
One of the organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast saw the video for “I Believe in Jesus” and liked it. Sabri, who is Muslim, said the organizer actually was made aware of the video by someone in Jerusalem who had seen it.
“It was kind of cool to make that connection,” Sabri said.
He will not perform that song at the National Prayer Breakfast, though he will attend that event on Feb. 7. Instead, Sabri will sing “I Believe in Jesus” at the Middle East Breakfast, which is held the day before.
The National Prayer Breakfast began in the 1950s and consists of meetings, lunches and dinners throughout the day. Each president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has attended the event.
Sabri did not realize at first how big a deal it was to be invited to the National Prayer Breakfast. After some research he said he understood that it was an honor to go to the event.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to go, you know, be able to be there with the people who run our country and to meet with them and to thank them and also to perform my own song.’ That was a big honor for me.”
Sabri said he may have been invited to perform his song, which highlights the similarities between Christianity and Islam, to go along with the spirit of unity promoted by the National Prayer Breakfast.
“I guess since there’s so much turmoil and misunderstanding between the two cultures. I guess the song is kind of a unifying aspect,” he said. “It unifies the West and the East through Jesus.”