Sadoun Jaber: Iraq's Pat Boone? - سـعـدون جـابـر.

Oh'kay... I'm back by urgent demand.

*breaks the silence*

I had a request yesters from one of my Iraqi friends living here in Jordan after seeing the Cheb Khaled post at these Audiotopic quarts. He kept reminding me of how my joint was devoid of any 'Iraqi' singers and to tell ya the truth, I felt sad 'bout it 'cause Iraq's one of the richest countries in the entire world, musically and historically-speaking, and it deserves a lot of blog-space.

Well, in terms of writing this new blog-post it seems to get sadder when one ruminates the war that still ravages Iraq. Add to that the fact that these treacherous blawggin' waters are shit-magnets abrim with Amerigoons who are nothing but born-to-hate-360
°-chrome-plated-revolving-inverted-Americanus-holes to the inᵗʰ degree and one has to tread at ease in their midst.

—  at least for me, it gives me a much-needed cowboy proddin' poke this intrinsically growin' hate that they posses deep within. That 'Raqi guy 'hammered in' the last nail by showing me a small Various Artists compilation which he'd gathered from some Arabic music sites. Regardless of the sound quality he's got there, it surely put me back to the blogging chair in a heartbeat:
The music he had in it was just marvelous!

On and on, and through listening to these 80's-70's old Iraqi songs (some of which I'd never even heard or knew at all), I quickly had to chose one of these singers as a "post subject"... and lo and behold, I picked Sadoun Jaber: Iraq's best crooner ever, and the voice of a country that no longer exists thanks to America's invasion of this Middle-Eastern country that was known once as the 'Cradle of All Civilizations'.

The War:
Beautiful Ahwaz region in southern Iraq.
For more than 25 years and Iraqis have been suffering the world's worst humanitarian tragedy that has kept their beautiful country Iraq (العـراق) under the strict grip of consecutive wars instigated by greed and a never-ending lust for power. There was no letting go off of such a dire situation in a country that the British colonialists set their eyes upon a long time ago ever since oil was discovered in the 20's of the last century in this large country full of gas, oil, and natural resources.
Saddam Hussein in the 80's.
Communist Russia was given the 'go' in the late 50's by those same 'Allied' global powers and in less than 20 years, it had over-all control of the country in a clandestine operation which came to a boiling point in 1979 when Saddam Hussein took over the ruling seat forcing his country to enter into a series of spasmodic wars: first he went to war for 8 years with neighbouring Iran that ended with him declaring the country bankrupt, then he invaded also-neighbouring Kuwait  (called the Persian Gulf Wars I-II, 1980-2003), and the story's still rolling on.
The Second Gulf War, 1991.
The Iraq-Iran War - 1980's.

Sad as it seems, millions of Iraqis died in these wars as their country fell prey to what I myself call the ignorance of the masses: how can anyone not fight for his or her country? True. But, why should they fight for one (So-Damn-Insane as he's called by M60-totin', boorish Marines in the 90's) person? This is bloody fucking pathetic! America placed him and then allegedly hanged him, and is already establishing its mini-Empire there with multi-billion projects at stake. These innocent Iraqi people still die at unprecedented horrifying

Guys, no time for bollotics and what-all... Fuck America for a game of ten toy tin-soldiers: America is a non-'cuntry' and will fade soon, trust you me. It has no future because it never had any past. Read this article if you want to hear the story from the Iraqis' side. If you might feel a bit too pacified by  spinformation media, then suit yerself: the truth is far more clear and dear than try 'nd present it to a 'dumbmericunt'.
Make Noise, Music, Art And Love ... Anything But War.

Let's read instead the story of Iraq's best-known rural-pop (or, rif
i - ريفـي) singer. Righto, babes?

Sadoun Jaber (Also spelled as Sadoon/S3doon El-Jabr) - سعـدون جـابر:
Iraq's Nightingale: Sadoun Jaber.
Born Sa'adoun Jabr (سعدون جـبر) in 1951 in Nahiyat Ali El-Gharbi (ناحية علي الغربي), a small, poor neighbourhood in Amarah (العمارة) townlet situated in the middle Euphrates part of the Miessan Governate that sits so close to Al-Ahwaz in southern Iraq. His family moved to the capital Baghdad (بغداد) in the 50's. Sadoun's father was a mosque leader or imam who frowned at his son whenever he started to sing. Taking up many hard-working jobs (brick-layer, carpenter, fruit-seller), Sadoun wanted a break out from this hard life and began singing and playing the oud around Sikak Gardens (حدايق السكك) with fellow singer Fadel Awad (فاضل عوض).

During these early years and aged only 13 in 1963 he won the Rukn Al-Huowa contest (Ameture's Corner: a music-talent show that was aired in the early 60's by Iraq's National Radio), and then he joined the Ferqat Al-Inshad choral band as a muraddid (repeater: a back singer) who repeated whatever lead iconic singer Mohammed Al-Qubanchi (محمد القبنجي, left) sang, which was such a great honour for the few winning young singers, among whom Sadoun shared the singing contest like Fadel Awad, Daoud El-Qiesi, Hadi Hafez, and Aref Misha'al.
Singer Yousef Omar.
The first styles that these young singers tried were the same, ages-old Iraqi Maqams sung by older-generation singers like Hudhieri Abu-Aziz, Dakhel Hassan, Yousef Omar, Ustah Hussein, Aref Mouhsen, Mohammed Al-Faqanshi, Abd Al-Amir Al-Touierjawi, and female singers such as Salima Basha (a.k.a. Salima Murad), Maeda Nuzha, Ansaf Munir, Ahlam Wehbi, Setyaha Muniak, and Anwar Abd Al-Malik. Sadoun's songs on the radio got him much popularity among the Iraqi listeners keen on new sounds, but that wasn't enough. His first song recorded at Iraqi Radio in late 1972 went in the can after finally being recognized by the elders for his immense talent. These elders were very picky at choosing the new star singers as to preserve their thousand-plus years musical heritage and keep it intact and safe from pop influences.

Nazim Al-Ghazali
on T.V. late 60's.
Sadoun and many other Iraqi singers used the maqam style riding on the fame of one Nazim Al-Ghazali (ناظم الغزالي: he met him in 1964 and in his words, "looked at me, smiled and just patted my shoulder"), who was a stable feature at almost all Arabic late-60's television stations that used to air his black-and-white songs over and over. Sadoun began by not taking lessons as this style is learned by only listening. It's sometimes called sama'i or the music genre that one should listen to. From that date on and for the next ten years or so he himself became the stable singer and was called to sing at parties (haflat/sahrat), witnessed huge television popularity and soon afterwards with enough money in his pockets, he enrolled at Al-Muntasiriyah University to study English Literature.
An Iraqi young talent contest, 1984.
After his graduation, he left Iraq for another ten years to study at Salford University in Manchester, England (where he met and recorded with the music-meister Baligh Hamdy), then after returning back to Iraq he joined the National Arts Institute in Baghdad in 1985. Sadoun went to Cairo, Egypt to study at the Higher Institute for Arabic Music (Al-Ma'ahad Al-A'ali Lil-Mousiqa), gaining his doctorate in 1986. He holds five academic degrees in various subjects. His doctorate thesis was about the role of Iraqi woman in the development of Classical Iraqi music. To explain further, way back in the 50's, women singers in Iraq were accepted as part of this huge heritage of folklore music. In 60's Iraq for example, there were about 30 female singers who were famous, but in the late 80's this number dwindled to just 5!
The genius and the genie:
Baligh & Sadoun, circa late 70's.
Music-wise, Sadoun work was centered around the old traditional songs that most Iraqis know, and those songs that were 'given' to him to sing by well-known Arab writers and poets such as wealthy Saudi princes Khaled and Abdallah Al-Faisal; singer Abd Al-Rab Edriss, Sirag Omar, Badr Bin Abd Al-Mouhsen, and famous Egyptian composers Abderrahmane Al-Abanoudi and Baligh Hamdy. His music career can be divided into three main stages: his first with Iraqi composer Kawkab Hamza, then Mouhsen Farhan and after leaving to Egypt with the genius Baligh Hamdy who composed 4-5 songs for him (namely, Min El-Awwil Ya Habibi, Mishwarak Habibi, Rouhna Wallah Rouhna, Ariedak Ana Koul Youm, and Moushkilah) in 1984 at the height of the Iraqi-Iran war, before that he worked with Iraqi writers and composers Kazim Fendi, Abd Al-Hussein Samawi, Talib Al-Kouraghouli, Mohammed Jawad Amouri, Sadoun Qasim, Zamil Saïd Fattah, Kazim Ismael El-Kati'e, and Zuhier Al-Dujieli among many others.
Party poster. 1983.
The most famous of all of his songs was Ya Teour Ettayrah (يـا طيور الطـايرة - 'Oh Flying Birds'), chosen in a 2006 B.B.C. poll as one of the best 100 Arabic songs of the 20th Century which he sung in reminiscence of his beloved country Iraq while being away in ghorbah, written by the Iraqi poet Zuhier A'dujieli, which 'flew'-spread to the rest of the Arab World by way of Syrian poet Mamdouh Edwan in 1979. When he sang this song on stage, it sometimes brought a tear to his eyes from longing for his homeland as he had to stay far from all the war going on. It was the outro song he always finished his live encores with, stating once in an interview that, "after Ya Teour... there aren't any songs left for me to sing." The song is still being sung today by millions of Arabs; shown on T.V. as if it was 1972 when he first sang it on radio. It's his best, really.

His Music:
An early 90's Iraqi Maqam band.

Around 1985, he spent his time focusing on academia and research, and chose the Iraqi maqam as a very distinguished style of old, classical Arabic music (see the linx below for more information on this genre). Its earliest beginnings were in Baghdad; the capital of Islamic Abbasite Cliphite (also called The Abbaside Dynasty 750-970 C.E.). The word came from 'qam' which means literally 'stand', because back in the olden Muslim ruling days of kings, the invited lucky audience weren't allowed to sit down on floor rags in the presence of the caliphate. Not even the band was allowed to sit, too. It was a music of grandeur and overwhelming ecstasy. Other later styles he took interest of where rifi (very rural folkloric songs that became famous in the 40's and 50's mostly coming from the southern part of Iraq), abouthi/ abouthiya (أبوذي: a poetic rifi style that starts with formal Arabic couplets), and dami style which he sang wearing the traditional bedoui ikkal (a thick, Arabic headdress made from goats' hairs worn by Bedouin men), and abbaya (long, flowing light-coloured formal dress of distinguished shioukh) right on T.V. behind a backset of reed houses very common in the south.

Singer, composer, and oud-player
Baligh Hamdy.
In 1976 he was invited by the Communist Nasserite party to sing at the Voice of Arabs Radio (Sawt Al-Arab), in Egypt in commemoration of the opening of that famous radio in July of that year. He met there Baligh Hamdy who was impressed by his voice which has a distinctive croon, and a tad gruff but coy undertones. After choosing some songs to put to record together, Sadoun left to England where Baligh met with him again to put his voice to the musical arrangements that he himself made especially for. This was the height of his career being recognized first in his homeland, and then by the best ever Arabic composer who've ever lived: Baligh Hamdy (Arabic: بليغ حمدي . Check this wonderful blogsite its owner has adamantly collected almost all of his songs and compositions for other Arabic pop singers. Unmissable!).

Singing at Studio '86.
It is said that Sadoun wasn't another copycat act like most Iraqi singers of his time were. Some think he was maybe just another Tarab singer like say Abdel-Halim Hafez was, but his Tarab was so special that few today (if any), can sing his songs or remake these into new 'covers'. He was so special, even Hafez is so easily copyable. Not the case with Sadoun Jaber: his voice has a jawab ('answer') and qarar ('deep octave') that has secured him a place among the best t'Arab singers like Wadeh Safi (Lebanon), Sabah Fakhri (Syria), and many other tarab-i Egyptian masters. He was known in Iraq with his ability to sing a very hard maqam called 'mukhalif' which means the 'unlike other maqams' because of how hard it is to muster. Among the multitudes of these maqamat that can reach a few thousands, he sang in sa'ab (hard), saba (youth), and llami (start with Lam-letter in Arabic 'ل').

Singing Ya Oumi live on T.V., 70's.
Most popular Iraqi music has this deeply-seated sad ring to it. The songs come as cries or shouts of sheer pain and regret themed after tragic love stories (fictional, or real), departures, broken promises, cheating lovers... etc. One of his saddest songs, called Ya Oumi, or 'My Mother' has so much sadness almost all Arab pop singers have tried to remake (even schlocky, over-madeup Syrian female singer Ruwaidha Atiah sang this über-sentimental song not making it any better). The only other song that almost 20 Arab singer redid was Loh We Lou We Laoua ('If, And If And What If') with its simple, uniquely-upbeat rhythm that surely was the reason behind its popularity in the 80's.
The Nightingale and his oud.
The newer generation of Iraqi pop singers loved Sadoun Jaber, and some worked closely with him save for Kazim Essahir (كاظم الساهر) who was so jealous of his fame and musical talent romour has it that they went head-to-head at it trading insults. Sometimes their fights took an ugly form where Kazim was described by Sadoun as deforming the Iraqi popular song into that of other Arab countries' styles only for the latter to start bad-mouthing a legend of a singer like Sadoun Jaber who can be considered the greatest master to this Sahir pupil. (Note: Sadoun's remarks are spot-on: Kazim Sahir's music is yawn-inducing and has no particular style let alone an Iraqi distinctive one). Sadoun paid homage to older singers like Qubanchi in a number of T.V. serials taking the lead role as a tribute to their sounds.
Young singer Salah Abd Al-Ghafour with Sadoun Jaber (R).
He is active in folklore music conservation being an academic in this field. Among the 2070 singing genres that Iraq has, he documented 10 of these known around Hay El-Amarah where he was born: a 5000-year old place that speaks volumes of Iraq's old heritage and art and Sadoun's roots. Named in 2008 a "Good Will Ambassador for the U.N."... among the many nicknames he's called by was the 'Arabian Nightingale', and 'Ambassador of Iraqi Music' outside of war-torn Iraq in the Arab World, Europe, America, and Australia. Sadoun lives now in Damascus, Syria away from the Iraqi war. But, what's being labeled now as 'youth revolts' fully backed by the U.S. tyranny of death, blood, and hate did not leave that ageless city alone. It's such an atrocity, really.
With his wife at a gala dinner, 00's.
The Great American People (or, 'non'-people, mind) never had any culture of their own like say, Iraq or Syria. Americunts are committing the worst crimes against the world's oldest cultures with their envy, hatred, ignorance, and greed. This story isn't about music: No, not at all. I am just reflecting on the feelings of many a million Iraqi citizen and a couple or more million Arabs who now 'ave become part of this world-wide diaspora of refugees without any home to call their own. First it was Palestine, then Iraq, and after that Libya, and now Syria? Such improbable vileness! These nad-knockin' 'MerryCunts will pay greatly in hurt-ass units. This Universe keeps its own records.
Sadoun Jaber - ســعدون جـابـر
The immortal  voice of Iraq.

His discography is a mystery to most scholars. Actually, and in the Arab world, there is no such thing as a 'pop music scholar'. Throwing here a ballpark figure, his cassette albums can reach in the neighbourhood of 25-30. Most of these are lost gems nowadays and should be sought by the ardent crate-digger. I shall give you 'ere just a small look at his work, upping five of his cassette albums taken randomly from various stages (plus a comp 'Ya Oumi' of his best songs and a 'Best of' Album that I myself have compiled).


The Maestro of Pop-Folk Iraqi Music: Sadoun El-Jaber.

Useful Blogs:

-History of Iraqi Music.
-Iraqi Maqam.

Iraqi Music-File Sites:
Iraqi Music Files.

Good news to cheer us up from all o'this sadness laying so thick 'round you could cut it with a knife? Or, maybe bang it with a hammer? Mhm?
Lebanese Singer Mohammed Jamal.
I have uploaded all of the remaining Lebanese 80's (Vols. 1-12 Plus Bonus) albums, and they are all available for download, babes. My fave of all the 'zactly 543 songs is Mohammed Jamal's funktacular Meeli Ma Mal El-Hawa ('Bend With The Wind') that he sang with Syrian-Turkish singer Taroub. It has it all: cool repetitive claps, danceable bassliness, wo-woo synths, groovy back-singers that can set the laziest tush into a bang-bang dance.

'Member: there isn't a single compilation in the world that can touch this one's sky, or feel its ace. It's the ultimate one. I fuckin' didn't mean to keep the comp on the back burner, so I stopped holding' my cawk doin' nothing and bang! finished upping it today. Listen to the 'sound' while I'm gawn, and stay tuned for moar.
Ah-mazingest! Enjoy these and the more to come from... Audiotopia.

Guess I can go home now... uh, safe.

Yee Haw! *Whamfartsbananamerica*!


1 comment:

zznazz said...

So awesome - love those arrangements! Thanks for posting this.