Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern state, tracing its heritage back to the 10th millennium BCE (!), which saw the emergence of one of the earliest and most sophisticated civilizations in the world. Egypt’s iconic monuments, such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings outside Luxor, are a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest from around the globe.
The country’s rich cultural legacy is an integral part of its national identity, enduing and assimilating numerous foreign influences throughout the times, including Roman, Greek (Hellenism), Persian (Islamic), Ottoman, and European (Christianity).
As early as 4000 BC, ancient Egyptians were playing harps and flutes, as well as two indigenous instruments: the Ney and the Oud. However, there is little notation of Egyptian music before the 7th century AD, when Egypt became part of the Muslim world. Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of luminaries such as Abdu al-Hamuli and Sayed Mekkawi, who were patronized by Khedive Ismail and who influenced the later work of Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Abdel Halim Hafez, and other Egyptian music giants.
From the ’70s onwards, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly important in Egyptian culture, particularly among the large youth population. In the last quarter of the 20th century, Egyptian music was a way to communicate social and class issues. Egyptian pop singers such as Tamer Hosny, Mohamed Mounir, and Ali El Haggar have consolidated careers and fame among the Arab world.
Belly dance or Raqs Sharqi (oriental dancing) is the classical Egyptian style of belly dance that developed during the first half of the 20th century. Based on the traditional Ghawazi and other folk styles and formed by western influences such as marching bands, the Russian ballet, Latin dance, this hybrid style was performed in the cabarets of Kingdom of Egypt period and in early Egyptian cinema.
The style is often considered the classical style of belly dance, although that term historically referred to the Ghawazi style, and today covers a much wider range of Middle Eastern dance as well as Western styles developed from them. Today the country is considered an international center of the art.
Let’s go to our artist:
Born Omar Mohammed Omar Khorshid (October 9, 1945, ~ May 29, 1981) in Cairo at the glittering age of Egypt’s cultural reinvention, Omar Khorshid was soon to become one of its luminaries and most well-known, if short-lived, voices. He is regarded as the greatest guitarist the Arab world has ever known. (!!) With a natural gift for music, at a young age, he was taught piano but quickly discovered the guitar, much to the annoyance of his father, Ahmad Khorshid (a cinematographer) who even smashed his first guitar, but Omar was persistent enough to continue with a new one on credit!
By the mid 60’s he was established with his group Le Petit Chats, an Egyptian beat group modeled after the prevailing influence of Elvis and The Beatles. It was at this time that one of the reigning figures of contemporary Arabic music, Abdel Halim Hafez, asked Omar to join his orchestra. It didn’t take long before he was adapted into an Egyptian orchestra as a soloist. Arranger Baligh Hamdi helped him with arrangements to show his (freshly) western-inspired guitar talent.
Time with the Hafez orchestra offered Khorshid instant fame, and it wasn’t long before he was asked to play with the queen of Arab music, the voice of Egypt herself: Oum Kalthoum. Over the next few years, he was heavily featured in live concerts, national TV and radio, and studio recordings, playing for the leading artists of the day. The guitar had now become an essential ingredient in the Oriental orchestra.
Omar began recording albums under his own name for the prestigious Lebanese record labels Voice of The Orient and Voice of Lebanon. Working with visionary engineer Nabil Moumtaz at Polysound studios in Beirut, Khorshid would take his music into some of the most progressive and innovative musical terrains of its time!
Besides he also played as an actor, produced and composed music for over 40 films over the years (in Egypt and Lebanon). He lived for a few years a great life in Lebanon until the 1975 civil war, which over a short period in Syria made him return to Egypt. In that time span, he had four marriages! By 1979 he was invited to play at the White House on the invitation with president Sadat being present and with violinist Menuhin, as an Arab/Israeli exchange idea. Rumors indicate that after that day, he happened to be persecuted by extremists, dying in a mysterious car accident at age 36.
Let’s go to our album:
HEADS UP! Do not be fooled by the cheesy cover. Today’s album brings one of the greatest virtuosos who has appeared in Egypt and surroundings. Previously we appreciate the talent and the ways that Aris San had but with Omar Khorshid the thing takes another panorama, he simply rolled upside down the guitar concept from Middle Eastern music. With psych sounding, eastern sounding organ, percussive instrumentation, an originally styled electric guitar leading, surf reminiscences, all mixed with some additional Moog/synth, proves that this isn’t a regular record!
The ‘IM’ highlights are for Raqsed El Fada and Takkasim Sanat Alfeyn. બોન વોયેજ!
A1 Raqset El Fadaa (Nourl Al Malah)
A2 Guitar El Chark (Nourl Al Malah)
A3 Takassim Sanat Alfeyn (Omar Khorshid)
B1 Laylet Hob (M. Abdel Wahab)
B2 Lama Bada Yatasana (Traditional)
B3 Teletya Mahla Nourha (Saeed Darwesh)
B4 Ah Ya Zen (Traditional)
- Recorded By – Nabil Moumtaz
Voice of Lebanon – VLMX 39