Today we’ll be back to Lebanon, a special place when it comes to female singers, and it is precisely by the success of Samira Tawfik’s post, we’ll go to another beautiful flower of the East Mediterranean. Almost as famous as Fairuz, globally recognized and certainly one of the most awarded inside and outside of your country.
Majida El Roumi Baradhy (ماجدة الرومي), known by her stage name Majida El Roumi, is a Lebanese soprano. Born and raised in Kfarshima, Lebanon, she began her musical career in the early 70s when she participated in the talent show Studio El Fan on Télé Liban at the age of 16 and won the gold medal for the best female singer. Since her appearance on television, she became one of the most successful and respected singers of the Arab world, as well as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. (!)
‘Music can speak out louder than words. I will use my music and my voice to speak out on behalf of the needy and undernourished everywhere.’
Let’s go to our history:
Majida El Roumi is the daughter of Lebanese musician Halim El Roumi and wife Marie Loutfi who were a Melkite Greek Catholic couple from Tyre, a city in South Lebanon. They got married in Egypt, lived in Kfarshima and had three girls Maha, Mona, and Majida, and a boy Awad. Halim worked with many great singers with mentioning his discovery to many well-known artists, mainly the Lebanese singer Fairuz, and introduced her to the talented musicians: the Rahbani brothers.
They stayed in Kfarshima, which was home to many Lebanese singers, musicians, poets, and writers like Philemon Wehbi and Melhem Barakat. The residence of the family was a meeting place for many cultural figures, thanks to that, growing up in an artistic environment, Majida listened to the works of Fairuz, Umm Kulthoum, Wadih El-Safi, and Asmahan. Her vocal abilities attracted the attention of her family and neighbors when she was 5 years old (!), she sang her first song, Miladak.
Raymond Safadi (Majida’s cousin) was fascinated with her voice and thought that she could be very successful if she pursued singing as a profession. However, the big obstacle was her father who knew more than anyone else how difficult it was to work in the music industry. Although the father’s refusal, Majida’s participation in Studio El Fan, was a success. Singing songs for Asmahan and Leila Mourad, like Ya Toyour and Ana Albi Dalili, the jury was impressed and awarded her the gold medal.
Halim El-Roumi gave Majida his blessings to pursue singing as a profession as long as she continued her higher education. Despite the war in Lebanon in 1975, Majida obtained her BA in Arabic Literature from the Lebanese University. On September 17, 1977, she got engaged to a businessman, Antoine Dfouni became not only her husband but also her manager. They had two daughters: Hala and Nour.
Let’s go to our album:
Majida’s first single, I Dream of You, O’ Lebanon was a song about her war-torn country. The song was written by Said Akel and composed by Elias Al Rahbani. In 1976, Majida starred in Youssef Chahine movie Awdat Al Ibn Al Dal (The Return of the Prodigal Son) providing also 3 soundtracks for the movie. Chahine introduced her as the Voice of the 20th Century and received the Egyptian Critics Award.
Majida El-Roumi released her first self-titled debut album in 1977, the album was a huge success and it launched Majida into stardom. She continued to produce very successful albums through the decades and performed at various festivals in the Arab world: Beiteddine, Jerash, Bosra, Carthage, as the Cairo Opera House.
During her concert in Beirut on April 15, 2002, Majida took a firm stand opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories and Israeli human rights violations:
“What is going now in Palestine is a crime against humanity, and I am here to say a final ‘No!’ to the Israeli occupation. To the Palestinians, I say, our hearts are with you; our souls are with you; justice is with you, and the land will always be yours!”
With over 14 albums released during his career, countless singles, music videos, and feature films, Majida’s full biography will be held later, today, we will attend to his brilliant start. With a strong folk accent, their debut album has a bit more modern and accessible western tinges, comparable with Samira’s previous post. She currently lives in Jounieh, and released Ghazal and Nour Men Nour in 2012/13.
The ‘IM’ highlights are: Khedni Habibi, the opening track is one of her greatest successes, (acclaimed even today) with a beautiful string arrangement, rhythmic modulations, Arabic percussion, and some nice guitar work. This 9-minute track is one of the magnum opus from Lebanese pop-folk music. And Matrahak Bi Albi a romantic one, with some keyboards and light synths with Majida’s strong performance and sticky chorus. Enjoy this another Lebanese nightingale and Haerenga Pai!
A1 Khedni Habibi (Henri Zgheib – Nour Al Mallah)
A2 Matrahak Bi Albi (Maroon Karam – Ehsan Al Mounzer)
A3 Kelshi Am Yekhlas (Ilyas Rahbani)
A4 Wadaa (Maroon Karam – Ehsan Al Mounzer)
B1 Am Yesalouni Alaik El Nas (Maroon Karam – Nour Al Mallah)
B2 Nabea El Mahabeh (Maroon Karam – Nabea El Mahabeh)
B3 Ounshoudet Al Oumahat (Jebreael Fayad – Halim El Roumi)
B4 Ounshoudet Al Oumahat (Instrumental) [Halim El Roumi]
Voix d’Orient (Sawt Al Sharq)