Musician Amazigh Kateb Yasin embraced music as if he wanted to escape the shadow and fame of his father, prominent Algerian writer Kateb Yassin. Yassin has used his artistic medium to plunge into the rich and diverse soil of the culture of the Maghreb, both African and Arab. He has emphasized his Berber roots even though he does not have a command of the tribal dialect. His music was born of a mixture of these varied influences which formed his identity, and this mixture has helped him to achieve popularity among the youth in the Arab Maghreb and Europe . Who is this controversial artist?
As usual, the roads were jammed with cars ascending toward Beit Eddine, a city perched at an elevation of 850 meters in the Shouf region of Lebanon . A huge crowd of spectators proceeded to the palace, built in the 19 th century by Emir Bashir al-Shahabi II. They came from Tunisia , Kuwait , Saudi Arabia , Egypt , Syria , and Palestine . They came from all of Lebanon , representing a cross-section of Lebanese society united in the desire to hear the voice of Fairuz, or what remains of it.
In the 1920s, a small group of Lebanese and French romantics picked the ruins of Baalbek as a place to meet and recite their poetry. They started a trend that made the ancient city the hub of art festivals. In the early1950s, young Lebanese artists rushed to perform at the Baalbek Festivals and, over the years, many of them succeeded and grew to become household names– Fairouz, Sabah , Wadih Safi, Nasri Shamseddin, the writers/composers Assi and Mansour Rahbani, and the dance group of Abdulhalim Caracalla.
This article was adapted from a chapter on the music of Sayyed Darwish in "Fi al-Musica al-Lubnaniyya al-Arabiyya wa al-Masrah al-Ghina'i al-Rahbani" [About Lebanese Arab Music and the Rahbani Theater Musicals], by the late Nezar Mrouhe, edited by Mohammad Dakroub (Beirut: Dar al-Farabi, 1998). This article is edited and translated from the Arabic by Sami Asmar.
Visit me once a year, it will be a pity if you forget me completely,
I fear that love would come in a glimpse and go,
I left you once my love, it will be a pity if you forget me altogether.
Arab audiences have long known Marcel Khalife as melodist, singer and musical composer. Now, Khalife emerges with a new experiment, an attempt to develop Arabic musical traditions and "rationalize" it, as he told Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury and journalist Bilal Khabbaz in a feature interview published in Mulhaq Al Nahar Al Thaqafi [An Nahar Cultural Supplement], one of Lebanon and the Arab world's foremost literary publications.
Called by some kawkab al-sharq (star of the East) and by others 'empress of Arab tunes,' Umm Kalthum, with a voice powerful and clear, can still be heard daily on radio stations in the multitudes of coffee shops and taxis all over the Arab world. Even though she died over two decades ago, her love lyrics, national odes and religious chants continue to affect millions of people. Her audience, as if on cue, hums along or cries in despair in reaction to her range of pitch, filled with nostalgia and yearning, touching the very Arab soul.
From the 1930s to well into the 1970s, Muhammad Abdul Wahab was, to the vast majority of Arabic speaking peoples, a giant in the world of Middle Eastern entertainment. Every Arab who could afford it bought his records or tapes and listened for hours to his singing on radio and, later, television. His captivating voice brought to their mind the glorious days of Arab culture -- the time when Arabic music and song were the epitome of merriment.
"Magic Carpet," Marcel Khalife's latest release, is a suite of 12 instrumental pieces written for the Caracalla Dance Troupe's theater shows "Alisar the Queen of Carthage" and "Andalusia: The Lost Glory." It is the second album that Khalife published of his instrumental works for the Caracalla plays, his first being "Summer Night's Dream," which came out five years ago. The recent album appeared in the market on cassette and CD in the summer of 1998.