Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Egyptian Poem of Praise

Before embarking on a new post that will bring very interesting news about the case of the Baha'is of Egypt, it is probably timely to take a little break and listen to some good authentic Egyptian music.

Those who know Egypt well, must also know its legendary singer who is beloved by millions, not only in Egypt, but throughout the Arabic-speaking world.

The late Umm Kulthum has been keeping the Middle East, for many years, mesmerized by her beautiful and powerful voice, her artistic talent, her majesty and her soul-stirring songs.

The US-based National Public Radio (NPR) has recently produced an extensive report on this once-in-a-lifetime talent, calling her "the Voice of Egypt." To read this report and/or listen to it, you may click here.... It also includes short video and audio clips from some of her concerts as well as from a documentary film, narrated by Omar Sherif, about her life.

In 1996, a Harvard scholar wrote a manuscript titled "Listening to Umm Kulthum" which gives western listeners a glimpse of the life, talent and accomplishments this unique and phenomenal persona.

As an example, the song below is, in my opinion, her best. One can’t forget though that she did have many “bests,” but this one is very special.

This song, Nahj Al-Burda is derived from a poem by AL-BUSIRI (13th century Alexandria). In 1948, Umm Kulthum sang this 20th century version of the poem. The rhythm and style of the song are derived from the Sufi tradition in the manner of “Burda.” The modern poem was introduced by Ahmed Shawqi, the prominent Egyptian poet. The poem is a tribute to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Please click on the player below in order to listen to the whole song.

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Salu Qalbi is another Qasidah (poem) by Ahmed Shawqi and music composition by Riyadh El-Sunbati. It was first released in 1946 along with few other masterpieces of the period. Click on the player below to listen:

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  1. Thank you for the presentation on Umm Kulthum. WE really enjoyed it.

  2. Many more powerful songs are available. Please let me know if you want them sent to you.

  3. Dear Bilo:

    Thank you so very much for the beautiful songs of the late singer Um Kulthum, what a joy to hear her through your blog. Yes I would be interested in getting some more of the old famous songs if you could possibly direct me to the web page or a link that provides them. She will live forever in our hearts, the Egyptian people who live abroad.

  4. Tahra,
    I find this website to have many of her well-known songs. You can listen to them online or download them to your computer and listen to them later. If you also use a portable MP3 player you will then need to convert the files you download from RA to MP3. Enjoy!


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