Thursday, May 28, 2009

Syrian Muscians: Decades of Syrian Singers

Here is a list of Arab singers who hail from Syria, the artists on the list are the pride of Syria and the rest of the Arab world. Syrian artists are known to be the last man/woman standing in preserving the art of Arab Tarab--traditional Arabic music style. There are also few Syrian artist who are innovate in their musical styles. I got a lot of help assembling this list from Wikipedia.

Syrian Voices that Your Dad and His Mom Appreciate
Sabah Fakhri
The godfather of Syrian music, his style is his own and he has claimed the throne for the Muwashahat and the Koodood for the past 50 years. Fakhri, originally from Aleppo, Syria is best known for his amazingly powerful voice. No one can hold a note longer than he can. He is the true master of Arab Tarab. Sabah studied music in both Syria and Egypt, and has performed in all the Arab capitals. Fakhri is also one of the very few Arabic singers to receive widespread popularity and to perform concerts worldwide (including Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Australia). His name is kept in the infamy when he sang for straight 10 hours name in Caracas, only to go on to hold the world record. He is a Syrian national treasure and an Arab voice that will never go silent. On a less serious note, the man is perfect for concerts attended by zombies, because the more drinks you have, the better his songs and the more you can enjoy istin on your seat for hours.

Watch Sabah at his best

Farid Al-Atrash
Perhaps the most famous Syrian composer, singer and oud player, Farid is a Druze who left Syria fleeing the French harassment of his family and settled on Cairo to be his final home. He's appeared in huge blockbuster movies where he also performed some of his best songs. He credits his mom’s skills in playing the Oud with own his passion for music for his success. Farid had a colorful music career. When not singing his own songs, Farid composed a colorful arrangement of songs and became a highly regarded composer, singer and instrumentalist. His music was unique since it exhibited some western musical influence, but he always stayed true to his Arab roots and principles. In addition to singing about love, he delivered patriotic songs that inspired millions of Arabs. For me, the one thing I know Farid for is his mellow style and occasional deep sound. Staying true to Arab music, Farid would always bust a mawal—a short improvising of Arabic poetry.

Farid, the composer at his best

Farid’s little sister who started her career in Syria and Lebanon and later moved to Egypt, Asmahan was born on a ship heading between Lebanon and Greece. The Golden Voice, she is known for her beautiful and sweet lyrics and her role in various Egyptian movies. She also got herself entangled with spy allegations and a controversial life. Like her brother Farid, at the age of sixteen, Asmahan was sought after by a record company to record her first album which featured her first song: Ya Nar Fouadi. She had the biggest names in music as her mentors or pygmalions: Farid Ghosn, Daoud Hosni, Mohammad El Qasabji and Zakaria Ahmad who gave her all the vocal training and music lessons she would ever need. If record deals weren’t enough, she was also asked to sing in the aristocratic family celebrations. She also started singing at night clubs alongside her brother Farid. Asmhan has one of the richest personal stories that ever existed in the Arab world. She ended up drowning in a river when her taxi fell into the river, killing Asmahan and her friend. Asmahan, an Arab soap opera chronicled her life--needless to say there were a number of lawsuits involved.

Watch Asmahan Transcend

Syrian Legends that We Celebrate

Mayada El Hennawy
The one Syrian voice that both your parents and I appreciate, this Syrian diva worked with extremely famous Egyptian composers who had previously worked with Om Kalthoom and Abdel Halim. Girl’s still busting out hits till this day. Legedary Arab composors like Baligh Hamdi, Ryad Sonbaty, Mohamed El Mouji, Mohamed Soltan and Helmi Bakr have all collaborated with her. Mayada reached the peak of her fame in the 1980’s thanks to a soulful, powerful and flexible voice. Mayada’s voice is one pure Shamee voice that transcends Arabic lyrics to the fusion of Egyptians, Syrian and Turkish melodies. Born in Aleppo in 1959, Mayada El Hanawi’s hit songs are: "Ana Baacha’ak," "Habbina w Ithabbina," "Ana Mokhlisalak," and "Kan Ya Makan." I have been seeing more of her lately in the Arab media scene and she is notorious for picking fights with Arab singers who do not give her respect.

Watch Mayada
Mayada 2

Asala Nasri
Asala was born in Damascus, to to revered Syrian composer and singer Mostafa Nasri. Asala was daddy’s little girl, who was taught how to truly love music. Her infatuation with music entertained her through her childhood. Asala’s commercial musical career debuted in 1991 with "Law Ta’rafou" (Arabic: لو تعرفو). The new album had 4 songs in the oriental operatic Tarab style. The album was an instant hit with heartbreaking songs like "Ya Sabra Yana" and "Samehtak Ketir." She quickly ensured a strong presence in the Arabic music scene. Asala continues to make songs that appeal to a pretty broad range of audiences in the Gulf, Egypt, the Sham and the Magreb. She is the most bankable Arab star who never shies away from a cause or a public feud for that matter. It was reported that her husband cheated on her, she dumped his ass and married Egyptian music producer Tarik Al-Arian where they both had the honor of having the first French kiss on live TV. What I like about Asala is her skills in staying relevant with fresh lyrics and solid music.

Watch Asala delivers a goldie
Asala Does the Gulf

George Wassouf
Singing at a very young at the age of 10 in his hometown Kafroun on different occasions was the easy part; continuing to rock and to have a growing fan base is priceless. Like most good Syrian artists, you cannot make it big till you "Go West!" He soon packed his bags and moved to Lebanon where he began his music career and quickly infused his popularity. It was at the age of 16 when he became known as "Sultan El-Tarab" when international actor Omar Sharif granted him he title. A few of his first songs that brought him to fame include "Hawa Sultan," "Rohi ya Nesmah," "Helif el-Amar," and "Law Naweit." Those songs still sound as crisp and soothing as ever before. George Wassouf has produced more than 30 albums and has performed concerts all around the world. The one artists the Arab PhDs, MDs and cabbie drivers agree on is this man. There is no shortage of Arab singers who attempt to copy his style and replicate his magical voice. He is not the best looking Arab singer and when combined with his hatred of acting, makes for too short the number of music videos under his belt. One of his recent successful albums was released in 2002 ("Salaf wi Dein") which made a huge success in both the Arab world and abroad. He just released a new album last week titled "Allah Kareem." Youtube is loaded with videos of George doing and saying all sort of wacky things, he was recently busted in Sweden for having coke--he claims he is innocent.

Listen to the song, but here is the video

Syrian Artists Your Little Sister Likes

Shady Aswad
Originally from Edlib region, Shady he is currently living in Damascus . . . with his parents! According to his personal website, Shady's father held a party for Shady success in primary school only to discover that his son had a great voice and loved to sing. Shady didn't sing until he was 18 when he enrolled in the Syrian Song Festival with his own song (Galbteni). He got the admiration and encouragement from everyone, since he was the youngest contestant of them all. He took a part in Superstar (Arab American Idol) and earned the respect and support both both the judges and fans which gave him an instant spoonful of success. Perhaps what distinguishes Shadi from other singers is his sensitive spirit, his personal ambitions and his Syrian stubbornness.

Watch Shady at his best

Noura Rahal
Noura started in 2001 with her first two singles: "Salemly 'A Albak" (Give me your heart) and "Shoflak Hall" (Find a solution) which weren't immediate hits. After wading through the an obvious lack of stardom, she received her shot at glory in 2006 when she released her breakthrough single entitled: "Kollo 3adi" (It's the same) an Egyptian song which brought her instant success and fame. Noura enjoyed more than four months of success, then produced a full album: "Denyeti Ahla" (My world is prettiest). The lead song of the album entitled: "La Tekhteber Sabri" (Don't test my patience) was very successful and climbed the charts so fast, making it one of the highest-selling albums of the year. In addition to singing, Noura Rahal also stared in the Syrian series "Ahl Algrarm" and in "Kowm Alhajar."

Watch Noura

Wadih Mrad
Although Wedih started his music career much earlier in life, his fame did not start until he moved to Beirut where the doors of fame were wide open. He struggled for a year and a half in Beirut, not finding success, but finally, Wadih signed a contract with a Lebanese radio station and agreed that they would manage his business. Wadih started singing in night clubs and soon, the radio station produced his album of seven songs that included the single: "Helweh el Denyeh" that lead him to the top the charts. The album was entitled "Saket." In Christmas 2003, Wadih came to the U.S. where he had a tour in Los Angeles, Jersey, Detroit, and Boston. The concerts were well attended. Fans in the States were singing along. However, Wadih continues to make music, hoping to make a comeback to the rich Arabic music scene. "La Tan'hani" The one song that Wadih broke into the Arabic music scene back in 2000 was so successful that replicating that success might be a tough task.

Watch Wadih at his best

The Kingmaker
The One Man Team: Nizar Qabbani
"The Poet of Women" as he has been called, began writing poetry when he was 16 years old. At his own expense, Qabbani published his first book of poems, entitled "The Brunette Told Me" (قالت لي السمراء) as he was attending law school at University of Syria. Over the course of a half-century, Qabbani wrote 34 other books of poetry. Iraqi singer, Kazim Al Sahir, considered by some to be the greatest of Arab singers, might not have been where he is if it had not been for his plethora of songs written by Nizar Qabbani. The Arab world is better off because of his style, the Arabic language is far richer for his influence, and the Arab lover is far more sincere because of Qabbani’s imagery. Not only was Qabbani a tier one poet, he was also a top Syrian diplomat dispatched to Bruit, Istanbul, London and China. A group of the Arab world's most respected Arab stars have sung his words, including Abelhalim, Majda El Roumi, Latifa and off course Kazim Al Sahir, all of whom immortalized Nizar's poems in our hearts and lives.

Nizar Poetry Reading

Syrian Mixed Bag

Majd Al Kassem, used to be good, had couple of hits in the late 90s, now what?
Shada Barmada the Syrian Lizzie McGuire
Fayza Ahmad for mom's sakes
Nour Mihna, the man can sing, he is a cross between George Wassouf and Sabah Fakhri

[Tarboush Tip: Carlos]




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