Friday, May 18, 2012

Warda | Layaly El Ghorba

Get it here.

This week in the U.S., we lost Donna Summer; in the Arab world, they lost Warda, one of the greatest singers of the region.

Warda was born in France in 1939 to an Algerian father and Lebanese mother. She started her career very young--some reports suggest as early as 11 years old--singing at a club in Paris owned by her father. In 1958, the family moved to Beirut and with Algerian independence, Warda moved to Algeria, where she married and gave up her singing career for 10 years. In 1972, she was asked by the president to perform for the 10th anniversary of Algeria's independence, which she did, much to the chagrin of her husband; they divorced soon after. She dedicated the rest of her life to music, settling down with a composer in Cairo, where she died last night of a heart attack at the age of 72.

Arabic music scholar Daniel Caux: "How are we to define Warda's specificity which is so much easier to feel than to put into words? I think Warda plays on a specific emotional range combining successfully strength and frailty: on the one side will-power, self assertion, even challenge; on the other side sweetness and a tenderness implying some kind of vulnerability. But the paradox is that this vulnerability acts as a strength on the emotional level since it moves and fascinates us. In turn, and sometimes simultaneously, her voice gaining strength sings out to the whole audience. In doing so she never overstrains her voice to the extreme but she sooner changes its texture. Becoming more diffuse, her voice widens subtly till it fills the whole space."

Watch and listen to a short version of this song:


Hammer said...

Yeah saddest lost this year, so far.

Warda Al-Jazaieryah was such a beacon for beautiful, romantic music along with her hubsy-bubsy Baligh Hamdy.

B.t.w.: Her mother wasn't Lebanese, she was a French-Jew who's Moroccan by descent.

Nice drop.


walkingtrees said...

i'm on this now, thanks for sharing! and thanks for adding fivewalkingtrees to the blog roller!

heights, from san francisco..

Gary said...

Hammer, I'm fascinated by the prospect that Warda might be part Jewish; it would make her even more of a pan-performer. I hunted around trying to verify this, but everywhere (in English, anyway), it says her mother was Lebanese. What's the story ...?

Hammer said...

Gary, Jewish Moroccans and Algerians went to France (and some to Italy, Switzerland, Spain) after the WW-II broke fearing for their selves and kids.

Warda's parents were there in France in early 1939 after the first skirmishes hit North Africa. Few know that as a face, because simply... her identity was hidden on intent as not to paint her as a Jew in a Muslim-majority world.

Likewise, Asmahan and Farid Al-Atrache weren't actually Muslims. Not just them, but also Mohammed Abdel Wahab himself was Half-Jewish. Only Arabs who know who's who from who's not know this.

Fact time? Maybe, but almost 90% of all North-African Arab musicians are actually of a Jewish descent.


NGONI said...

A very interesting site because it contains the lyrics of Warda, also is available her biography from different signed sources, all agree on the origins Lebanese Muslims of her grandparents.

Warda kept home in Lebanon and often visited her familie there.

There are many Jews in north africa, they were expelled from the Alandalus with the Muslims, but I think that is not the case of Warda.

Thanks for Layaly El Ghorba!

Hammer said...

"There are many Jews in north africa, they were expelled from the Alandalus with the Muslims..."
@NGONI: yes, true. But this took place at least 600 years aborning.

Warda's mother wasn't Lebanese at all. It's how the public know of her early beginnings in Lebanon around the late 50's when she went there to sing. Precisely, she came to Lebanon for the first time in her life in 1955. Lebanon was at that time a home for every aspiring artist and singer: Beirut was a city so full of nightspots, clubs, malha (discotheque in Arabic), and dancing theatres. She didn't make any success there, sadly and left to Syria.

Warda never lived in Lebanon in her entire life. Most of her longer stays were in Cairo, Egypt; Algiers, Algiera, and Paris.

One thing you should know about on-line biographies is, these barely try to tell the details of the singer/artist/band's ethnic or religious origins and backgrounds. Jewish musicians mainly have been the building fathers of all that is Arabic pop music. Abdel-Wahab himself was a Jew when even his first name's Muslim. Do you realise that only Arabs like myself know this as a set-in-stone fact?

So, chopping logic aside... she was, yes half-Jewish on the side of her mother who was actually Moroccan and not Algerian or Lebanese as most think she was. At latter days in her life, those whom Warda stayed with and lived among (with her son Riyad), were her Moroccan family members. There are few pictures one can see on the Internet at some of her fan-site forums showing this as proof if ya like. And, yeah... she loved Morocco in secrecy.

I have to also add that, at my own blog... and a few days ago, an Egyptian visitor (seemingly Christian), was throwing bitch-cakes inside my comment box because I stated that one Egyptian female singer (Simone) was a Muslim. Lol. She went nut-cakes, I tell ya. Well, dunno really but sometimes people are really hard to convince and yes... they are suckers for bullshyat.

Stop eating that stuff, guys: it ain't no good fer ya.

Just a comment.


White Rose said...

all links to Warda not working can you please Re uploaded