We had a small break in the pace of updates due to the elections held in October here in Brazil, therefore, it is likely that this month will be a bit slower than usual, but don’t worry, the average rate will be kept on our Facebook, as we’re trying to extend our sharing network in a more regular schedule, based on documentaries, live presentations, and rare film clips. Join us, leave a word and be welcomed to the ‘IM’!
Let’s go to our artist:
In terms of popularity and international recognition, the popular singers from Egypt and Lebanon respectively were those who had more success in spreading the Arab culture worldwide since the mid-50s. On the Egyptian side, Umm Kulthum (greatest female Arabic singer in history!), Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Farid al-Atrash and Abdel Halim Hafez, are the four greatest icons from the twentieth century.
The Lebanese side got plenty of female stars like Fairuz, Sabah, Majida El Roumi and lastly but not least, Samīra Ġusṭīn Karīmūna. Here we got its third entry!
The previous posts from her got its full biography, film clips and a little essay about Lebanon, amongst other details. Feel free to travel along with these entries and enjoy it!
Let’s go to our album:
A single from the (late?) 60’s with fine sound quality, in what might be the apex of Samira’s career, starring dozens of films, endless tours and multiples releases(Lp’s and singles) throughout the Arabic world. This fantastic single, one of my favorites from her, takes a plunge inside traditional folklore, a bit different from the 90’s last entry, where there’s no electric guitar or synths,but the usual Arabic band style with female/male chorus, strings, and tight percussion. Lastly, don’t forget to check its youtubechannel full of various performances at different times in her lasting career!
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 Haggarhave 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 fourmarriages! 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!
Phoenicia was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities (Sidon, Tyre, Byblos) were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550 BC to 300 BC. They were famed in Classical Greece and Rome as ‘traders in purple’, referring to their monopoly on the precious purple dye of the Murex snail and for their spread of the alphabet, upon which all major modern alphabets are derived.
The oldest known representation of the Phoenician alphabet is inscribed on the sarcophagus of the King of Byblos, dating to the 11th century BC. Phoenician inscriptions are found in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Cyprus, and other locations, as late as the early centuries of the Christian Era.
Phoenicians are credited with spreading the Phoenician alphabet throughout the Mediterranean world. Phoenician traders disseminated this writing system along Aegean trade routes, to Creta and Greece. This alphabet has been termed an abjad, a script that contains no vowels, from the first four letters aleph, beth, jamal, and daleth. The Greeks adopted the majority of these letters but changed some of them to vowels which were signifiable in their language, giving rise to the first true alphabet.
They were among the greatest traders of their time and owed much of their prosperity to trade. At first, they traded mainly with the Greeks: wood, salves, glass and powdered Tyrian purple. Tyrian Purple was a violet-purple dye used by the Greek elite to color garments. In fact, the word Phoenician derives from the Ancient Greek word phoinios meaning ‘purple’. As trading and colonizing spread over the Mediterranean, Phoenicians, and Greeks seemed to have unconsciously split that sea in two:
The Phoenicians sailed along and eventually dominating the southern shore, while the Greeks were active along the northern shores. The two cultures clashed rarely, mainly in Sicily, which eventually settled into two spheres of influence. In the centuries after 1200 BC, the Phoenicians were the major naval and trading power of the region. Brilliant textiles were a part of Phoenician wealth, and Phoenician glass was another export ware. They traded unrefined, prick-eared hunting dogs of Asian or African origin which locally they had developed into many breeds.
To Egypt, where grapevines would not grow, the 8th-century Phoenicians sold wine, the wine trade with Egypt is vividly documented by the shipwrecks located in 1997 in the open sea 30 miles west of Ascalon. Pottery kilns at Tyre produced the big terracotta jars used for transporting wine and from Egypt they bought gold. From elsewhere, they obtained other materials, perhaps the most important being silver from the Iberian peninsula and tin from Great Britain, the latter of which when smelted with copper(from Cyprus) created the durable metal alloy bronze.
Cyrus the Great conquered Phoenicia in 539 BC. The Persians divided Phoenicia into four vassal kingdoms. They prospered, furnishing fleets for the Persian kings. Phoenician influence declined after this. It is likely that much of the Phoenician population migrated to Carthage and other colonies following the Persian conquest. In 350 or 345 BC a rebellion in Sidon led by Tennes was crushed by Artaxerxes III.
Let’s go to our album:
Due to the vast scope that our Arab divas had in recent months, we didn’t think twice before bringing another exclusive from our blossom of Lebanon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find further info on this extended play, such as his year of release, musicians and composers, will any reader could help us?
Either way, today’s album brings us two vigorous live acts and other three studio entries with the well known traditional band with its intricate Maqamaat scales, three-quarters tonal steps, passionate interpretations, and even some synths tinges.
The ‘IM’ highlights are for Asmar (Ya Helou) and Enta Ashea’a
Boarding through the fertile lands of the Beqaa Valley and n’udo laa!
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 andAna 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 isone 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]
Lebanon. Its location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has dictated a rich history, shaped by a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, the five provinces that constitute modern Lebanon were mandated to France.
The French expanded the borders of Mount Lebanon, which was mostly populated by Maronites and Druze, to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, establishing a unique political system, confessionalism, a power-sharing mechanism based on religious communities. Bechara El Khoury (independent Lebanon’s first President), Riad El-Solh (first Prime Minister) and Emir Majid Arslan (first Minister of Defence) are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and are national heroes for having led the country’s independence.
French troops withdrew from Lebanon only in 1946.
Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity, Lebanon was known in its heyday as the Switzerland of the East. It attracted so many tourists that the capital, Beirut, was referred to as Paris of the Middle East. (!)
In the period after WWII, several artists emerged in Beirut, a fulcrum between oriental and occidental, most famously Fairuz, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, Majida El Roumi, Nasri Shamseddine, Ziad Rahbani, and Marcel Khalifa. But when exploring a country’s music, attention must not only be paid to its singers but also to its instruments. Lebanon’s traditional music incorporates the deep and mellow sounds of the Oud, the beautifully decorated Derbake (a kind of drum also known as the Tabla) and the Daff (also known as the Riqq, corresponding to the English tambourine).
But if you really want to know all about Lebanese music, you will need to dance! Dabke is the national dance and the Lebanese people take particular pride in their skills in it. Comparable to the Irishstep dance or the GreekHassapiko.
In the early ’70s, Fairuz also performed more Western songs, with lyrics that were closer to European traditions such as Habaytak Bi-Sayf(I Loved You In Summer), which catapulted her to fame in the West, opening the gates for many artists!
Let’s go to our history:
Samira Ghastin Karimona, born on 25th September 1935 at Al Rmayleh district (now known as Jemiezeh), in Beirut, was most famous for portraying the image of the Gypsy Arab girl. She started singing in her early teen years in the famous Ajram Theatre for public gatherings and private parties (haflas) at the age of 13. Then, she went to bigger open-stage ones like the Tanious Theatre in which she sang classical by Layla Murad.
Her family accompanied her in its travels through the country and was known collectively as The Sixth-Fleet. She didn’t get the fame she wanted in Lebanon, especially with competition from big names such as Fairouz, Sabah and Wadih El Safi, the real fame and fortune came from her stay in Jordan where she was invited to sing for Jordan Radio in the early ’60s, with her famous Badawi (bedouin) style.
Samira’s first hit was Beyn Al-Dawali, she continued launching many songs that were known by Lebanese fans and in the Arab countries (especially Syria), characterized by the Bedouin dialect, singing for many composers like Filmon Wehbi and Tawfiq El-Belouni (that’s where the second part of her name came from) and in front of famous figures, such as the Queen Elizabeth II at the Melbourne Opera House in the 70s alongside Wadih El Safi. She extensively toured throughout its career, to places like Mexico, Venezuela, France, London, and even Africa!
Many famous tabla players like Setrak Serkissian had played for her, with other derbaki masters like Mohammed El-Barjawi. Her music was known as Tabla Fakhar (pottery-made tabla) music, using the real non-plastic derbakis that made such a thumping sound. She starred in more than 15 films, most notably A Bedouin Girl In Paris(1965) at the peak of her popularity and beauty, plus some few Tv series in the 70s.
Around 2004, Samira met Al Shab Ghabi, a Lebanese businessman. Attending one of her concerts, he gave her a bouquet of flowers, shortly after love started between the couple and they finally got married. Samira Tawfik disappeared from the music scene after breaking a leg in front of its house in London. Samira spends most of her time between its first home in Hazmieh and her other in Faytroun. She lives in Stockholm today visiting Lebanon and Jordan from time to time.
Let’s go to our album:
The culture of Lebanon is the cross-culture of various civilizations over thousands of years. Originally home to the Phoenicians, and then subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and most recently the French, Lebanese culture has over the millennia evolved by borrowing from all of these groups. Lebanon’s diverse population, composed of different ethnic and religious groups, has further contributed to the country’s festivals, musical styles, and literature as well as cuisine.
Samira’s popularity may be considered one of the greatest in the Arab world, the blossom of Lebanon has figured in many films, Tv shows, and series. Nowadays thanks to the net we’re able to see, hear and appreciate these performances, learning a bit more of this beautiful music, exceptional instrumentation and arrangements. His technique combined with the oriental quarter tone division and comas are really impressive to Western ears, here we’re going far beyond rock or the usual harmonic conventions.
The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Ghannou Ya Hbab, the strong opening track that shows us every aspect from the Lebanese music: ethereal flutes, constant percussion pace, the female and male chorus in an atmosphere of celebration and dance. And Al Ain Téoul Lel-Ein, another lively one with strings, pizzicato breaks, and an unmistakable refrain. Unfortunately reading in Arabic isn’t easy, the lyrical content of its music remains unknown, but certainly, these phonemes sound great. Niezła Jazda!