Simone: Egypt's Madonna? - سـيـمــون.


Today's the birthday anniversary of Mohammed Abdel-Wahab (13th March, 1902- 4th May, 1991). A very gigantic figure of Arabic music who's Egyptian. Abdel-Wahab's music defined a whole century of Arab-listeners over and over, keeping the olden traditional forms of music intact, and at the same time, developing these into worldly standards. He was a genius. His music is studied by scholars nowadays to get hints on how old and new music can live side by side.

This anniversary has led me to think for a while about the Egyptian music in general, and the 'new stuff' in particular. I don't like extremes such as 'old' and 'new'. But, what if I wanted to see who among the many, uncountable Egyptian musicians was the most 'out there'? Whose music was the bravest attempt at modern sounds, and still wasn't as boring as, say Madonna's? Simone was the answer.


'Sweet' Simone. 1988.
She's adorable. I mean it. This young Egyptian woman (full name: Simone Phillipe Kamil,  born 1966 - سيمون), beside being so attractive, was 'One-dear-ful' and oddtastic, too. First, one of her close cousins is none other than (gulp?) Hassan Al-Asmar! Wow! She, in the meanwhile looks like a supermodel when her famous chaabi  cuzza (who passed away earlier this year), looked like one of these street peddlers that sell 'termis' (lupine; considered the cheapest food to buy, and for a nutritian... the world's most non-bioavailable food), on some street abutting the Nile in Cairo!

the coolest girl in Egypt
To continue in my explanation... one scene in a film these two shared the lead roles at, has them both groping and kissing like hot monkeys! When in a strict Islamic-tradition country like Egypt such PDAs would start a fuckin' riot. Islamist rightists are now back at the power seats in the newly-elected Egyptian Parliament, and it's not boding well so far for artists and musicians alike (some got jailed last month, and one of them was A'adil Imam; Egypt's first actor). Such open sexual freedom demands cojones on Hassan's side, and a load of heuvos for Simone's and yes ma dearies... She got these by the truck-load.
She was born in Shubra which is a very popular (or, chaabi) neighbourhood, in uptown Cairo, and came from the same descent as Hassan himself was known: Saeedi. These are like 'yokels'/'boors'/'hicks' etc in say America, clodhoppers in England, and country folks everywhere else in the world. Saeedis, or as some call these folk people sa'aiydah, are a ripe fodder for jovial jokes and urban legends as well. Everyone all around the Arab world takes alorra Mickey outta them. But, we're not here to do the same to Simone. God forbid it.
On The Nile, circa 1989.
Her first singing career steps were at a singing contest for hmm, Greek songs. Simone won the contest with flying colours. I don't think that it's her voice only that got her that, but she's a stunna (in Egyptian aesthetic levels, OFC). Soon, every producer and film director wanted to put his hands on this new 'Madonna' lookalike. Actually, that's become her nickname in Egypt: Madonna Masr (مادونا مصر), on which she said to the press once that she, "didn't mean to become Khwajayah", or 'foreign'. Her singing career was a musical 'odd-yssey' dedicated to a young generation of Egyptian youth who wanted to feel free, have fun, and yes... be able to dress; walk, talk, get sad, mad, bad... and love the way they very well damn pleased. The whole world has witnessed these youngsters in that 25th, January, 2010 revolution, or 'Sawrat Masr' and how they single-handedly toppled Mubarak's reign and presented him to a tribunal to prosecute his ass. Gyppies rock, yeah... but, 90% of that revolution was backed by American and western (read: France and Britain) neo-colonial dickwads to set the country at chaos so they can siphon all the natural gas reservoirs newly-discovered near Doumyat city on the Mediterranean coast up north.

Anyways Simone's not yer average Jane. Nah. She's wild (picture on far left), mischievous, playful, funny, crazy-kooky. She's well-composed (picture on the far right), gentle, loving, sweet-eyed, all a woman. And the middle picture shows how she looks 112% Madonna! (middle one)... This young woman
—even in a society that eats 'gossip' and rumors with every meal like the Gyppies, she laughed at these rumors that were mostly endless sexual innuendos about her having an affair with this or that so-and-so artist/businessman etc. Simone's also well-educated and knows many languages, too. She graduated from The American University in Cairo (AUC), and holds a B.A. in French Literature.

Singing on stage, 1991.
That contest was part of the AUC's extracurricular activities in fact, and a well-known producer who managed many Egyptian singers at that time (namely, Tariq Al-Kashif), was given the heads-up by the famous writer Jamal Abdel-Aziz about her. Add one to one... I mean, three... and he ended up producing her first three albums which I will up them all for yer listening pleasure right here in this post. Other art directors took notice of her exceptional looks and singing ability and were really interested in this young woman as to make a bunch of films starring herself alongside the 'usual suspect' male popular star. The total of her albums amount to six, and they are good works of 80's & early 90's Arabic popular music that differ by streets and miles than Abdel-Wahab's classical Arabic music. But, still worth a listen. Some even seemingly veer audibly on synth-pop, hip-hop, and yeah... that much-abhorred word 'disco'.
With singer-actor Mohammed Munir
in Youm Mour We Youm Helw - 1988
a Kahyeri Besharah film.
Then, eh... came her T.V. years, and that was just horrible. Honestly, she's not a good actress. The damage didn't stop at this: a crazyassed theatre star (actor Mohammed Subhi) asked her to perform popular plays with him and she agreed wholeheartedly. This Subhi whatever was a nutcase whose plays were musical headache-inducing, three-hour non-stop retardedness. I'm sure as sin on Sunday it was the beginning of the end for both her singing and acting career. Damn! Another shitwad who did her damage was Amr Diab. This fat cunt the western world loves to listen to and mumbles his stupid songs like bubonic baboons... chose her to star with him in one of his films (Ice-cream Fee Gleem - آيس كريم في جليم), just to make use of her good looks to sell tickets. Little wonder he's still singing and she's not, and that he's a millionaire, too.
Khwajayah, or foreign Simone.
When asked who does she think will be the best star in the music scene (and, the acting one) back in the late-80s... Egyptian film-star Souad Husni said, "Simone will!". Simone was a sweet woman and not a sweet Cinderella story that kitchy children books like to make out of a simple success story. Strong will and a real life-affirming love makes people stars regardless of how much one has behind the bank doors, or who sings whose songs. She didn't become rich like 'Maddy-Mo The Material Girl Madge' did, but she was rich in heart with her mellow, child-like innocence and very cute voice one must hear from time to time to remind him or herself how life is still worth living.
Jacket of her last album Tani Tani.
Simone today:
Still young and veracious. Grr!
Lastly, and in one interview, she was asked what's the best film role that she most wanted to act, and her answer was: Susan Hayward's Barbara Graham in her 1958 film 'I Want to Live!'. She didn't win much stardom for too long, correct... she lost lovers here and there, righto... but, she won her life. I shouldn't have written her a long post like this: all I had to say about Simone was one word: Happy.

Have fun listening to her 'happy' songs that most Arabs have forgotten, sadly. You're to find here her first three albums and these came out in the early 90's but the songs are from different collections and studio recordings made between the mid-80's up to the early 90's. Bonus is a 1993 'Best Hits' comp. The music varies from New-Romantic 80's sound, to old-skool hip-hop and drum-machine-led break-beats. Some songs were remakes, or 'covers' of Euro-disco hits from the mid-80's. It's a variation of styles little seen in any Arab pop singer. Simone's music is gorge, and her voice makes even those stupid songs sound so good to listen to, and ultimately... sing. A true musician, really.

Les' sing now. Funjoy!

01- Beskout - (Biscuit) - بسكوت
02- Einou Mine - (He's Eying Me) - عينو مني
03- Hikayat - (Stories) - حكايات

04- Leila - (Night) - ليلة
05- El-Haya - (Life) - الحياة
06- Toumba
- *تومبا
07- Batkalim Gad - (I Am Talking Seriously) - بتكلم جَد

01- Helou We Morr - (Bittersweet) - حلو و مر
02- Allo - ألو
03- Rekka - (Sweetness) - رقة
04- Einey - (My Eye) - عيني
05- Masbsoutah - (Correct) - مزبوطة
06- Ana Moush Seme'et (I Didn't Hear A Thing) - أنا مش سمعت
07- Al Eih (As If) - آل إيه
08- Wareeny (Show Me) - وريني
09- Allo - (Instrumental)
10- Ana Moush Seme'et - (Instrumental)

3.) Simone - Aheb Akolak - أحب أقولك - I Like to Tell You issued 1993.
01- Estana Chiwayah (Stay for Just A While) - إستنه شوية
02- Mashia Fi Hali (Walking On My Own) - ماشية في حالي
03- Ella Embareh (All But Yesterday) - إللا إمبارح
04- Sadekni Behebak (Believe Me, I love You) - صدقني بحبك
05- Fee El-Gana (In Heaven) - في الجنة
Aheb Akloak - (I Like to Tell You) - أحب أقولك
07- Ayza Asarakh - (I Want to Be Open With You) - عايزة أصارحك
08- Al Dounia Trouk - (Life Gets Better) - الدنيا تروق

Simone - Greatest Hits issued 1993.
01- Taxi - تاكسي
Batkalim Gad
03- Tani - (Again) تاني
04- Casanova - كازانوفا
05- Wayyak - (With You) وياك
06- Ka'edeen Sakteen - (Sitting Silently) قاعدين ساكتين
Einou Mine
08- Toumba*
09- Kalbi El-Loulou - (My Pearly Heart) قلبي اللولو
10- Merci - ميرسي

*A remake of Aris San's Boom Pam! Wonderful.



Sara said...

Simone is not related from near or far to Hassan Al Asmar. For one, she comes from a Christian background and he was Muslim. And they never shared a film together either. Which sources do you get your information from? Google? Maybe you should check your facts. Not everything you read on the internet is true.

Hammer said...

Heylo Sara,

Good to see you here. Well, since you insist at me being a Goo-tard, I shall also insist that not one of my sources was culled from an expedite Google session. It's not easy to gather facts about artists who lived and saw their fame nearly half a century ago; especially in the Arab world where not much is actually documented there about any musician or artist.

Simone was Hassan Al-Asmar's cousin on the side of his mother. Her father was German himself who married her mother in the early 60's. Now, pretty much like say, Yousra was (يسرا) whose mother was German, she never said that she was even half-Christian. But, that doesn't make Simone or for this matter Yousra 100% Christian, or as you might think a Coptite, or Coptic at all. These singers and artists were born at a time when most Egyptians went to Germany and eastern-Block communist countries to study and work, and married there in order for them to stay permanently there, or as is the case with Simone's mother... a way of inter-racial marriages so common at that time.

As for chaabi singer Hassan Al-Asmar, well... oddly enough... yeah he's her cousin on the side of her mother. They shared the same apartment at one point of time in Shubra, Cairo. I wonder if you know that?

Anyways, tiny, gritty-itty-nitty-bitty details aside... thanks for the concern.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

Allow me to thank you for a wonderful profile. Simone is a unique singer actress and was way ahead of her times.
I must however contradict what you wrote with regards to her personal family background. Simone's father and mother are both Egyptian Christians and although she grew up in Shobra as you mentioned, she is not in any way related to Hassan El Asmar nor did they ever share an apartment or anything else. This is a fact and 100% confirmed.

Best regards

ahmed elgamasy said...

any chance those links will be re uploaded? please there are many treasures here

Anonymous said...

Can you re upload the albums for Simone

Anonymous said...

great article
but Simone is neither related to Hassan El Asmar nor did she ever act in a film with him
this part is entirely wrong and invented
whats teh name of the movie? :-)

Intercourse said...

Can you please reupload these?! Much thanks.