Everyone’s favorite music man, Leo Sarkisian, is celebrating his 96th birthday today! Wishing Leo another wonderful year full of music, art, and (of course) his beloved Mary. In celebration of Leo’s birthday, here are five facts you may not know about him:
1. While employed by Voice of America, Leo created chalk sketches of public figures, musicians, and locals he met throughout his travels in Africa. Most of his sketches are currently in the collection of the Gallery Miriam in South Africa.
2. In 1986, Leo established the Armenian National Committee of America Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship (LSI) Program to give Armenian-American students leadership experience in politics and advocacy.
3. Leo speaks Arabic, Armenian, English, Farsi, French, and Turkish.
4. Leo not only recorded music but dabbled in playing musical instruments himself. Among his repertoire are the lute, bamboo flute, santur (dulcimer originating from Iran), and kanun (stringed instrument most often played in the Middle East, Central Asia, West Africa, and Eastern Europe). At one point, Leo played kanun music at the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution.
5. Leo is also well-known for his dancing ability.