5/27/2012

The Singing Rose: A Tribute to Warda Al-Ghazaieryah.

Greets from Egypt.

The Sphinx: Egypt's symbol.
Warda's death still resonates with sadness at the loss of one of the "columns of Arabic music" around the Arab world, and yesterday her obituary was formally announced at Al-Shazilyah Al-Hamedyah mosque at the Muhandiseen district in Cairo, Egypt by her long-time producer and friend Muhsen Jaber head of A'alam Al-Fan for music production and the C.E.O. of Mazzika Group.

Warda Al-Ghazaieryah.
Her death was reason enough to get me to write her an Obit-Post a few days ago, but that wasn't enough for her. She was one of the best Arab singers and a very much loved woman who left a wide array of beautiful Tarab recordings.
Warda: Al-Maoued
Magazine 1973.
Here, and in this newer post, you're going to get some more of her albums and songs in good audio-quality, plus a mini-biography of her life to continue what we've begun at the previous post along with some of her rarest pictures as a remembrance for her and her great voice.


Warda Al-Ghazaieryah (also spelled Wardah Ijaziria/ El-Djazariya - وردة الـجـزائـرية:
The Rose of Tarab: Warda.
Her obituary on Saturday 26th of this month was heavy with tears, high-sounding sighs, and then again smiles. She was loved by most of those Egyptian artists and singers attending her last farewells-giving at that famous mosque in Cairo. But, unlike earlier in her life, Warda was hated by a lot of envious singers and artists most of whom wished her death a long time before it finally took place ten days ago on the 17th of May, 2012. Let's invite Warda to kick in her story, shall we?
Warda kick-starting a footie match in Lebanon, late 50's.

With her brother and his wife.
The story is a bit sad, but one should really leave bygones to stay bygones. Her story started in 22nd July, 1932 (most websites refer to that date as either 1938/1939, or 1940 all of which are wrong dates for her birthday). She was born in Puteaux; a French town where her parents took refuge at from the Second World War erupting at their homeland Algiers. Her father was an Algerian expatriate (Si Mohammed Fotouki, also named El-Hadj Fotouki), who was born in Souk Al-Ahras region that borders Tunis. Amazighs call this town Taggast.
Singing in Syria, circa 1958.
He fought against the French occupation of Algiers and her mother who's a Moroccan-Jew (she wasn't Lebanese and that family 'Yemout' that most say she belonged to was a fake pseudo-name the family decided upon in order to stay in Lebanon when they fled there in 1955). Starting at the very early age of ten, singing revolutionary songs at her father's club Tum-Tum in the Latin quarter in Paris, a Tunisian producer named Ahmad Al-Tijani heard her voice and took her to the French-speaking radio (which was run by the colonialist French who didn't like her songs at all, later forcing her family to leave France alltogether in 1958).
In Algiers singing live mid-50's.
Tijani trained her for two years in a children's talent program under the auspice of another Tunisian artist and composer Al-Sadeq Thuriya who taught her how to sing one famous Umm-Kalthoum tune 'Salo Qalbi' written by Riyadh Assunbathi. She progressed very well in the singing arena so much that Ahmad Hachlaf manager of the Arabic EMI company in France was so interested in recording the young girl, and later invited her to their studios in France to record her first ever song 'Ya Ummi Ya Ummi' (My Mother, My Mother, included at the Early Warda album) in 1952.

At her early days.
Warda in the 50's.
During that time and in the mid-50s, her father's anti-French activities were ousted by French intelligence who withdrew the French nationalities of both his and the rest of the family, and expelled them outside France to Lebanon (he couldn't come back to his original homeland Algiers being a wanted revolutionary there). Warda went traveling with her family to east Beirut at Aliyah district, and started singing at the famous Tanius nightclub in Mahalat Al-Zaytoun the same revolutionary songs which again weren't what the carefree Lebanese people wanted to hear, and saw herself and the family in Damascus after she was invited by a Syrian composer (Mohammed Mouhsen, and later Abdel-Fatah Sukkar who also wrote music for her), to sing her revolutionist songs there.
Rare picture of her in Cairo.
She sang for one Jamilah Bouhreid a tune about this Algerian mujahidah who was killed later by the French army, written by Michel Tameh and composed by Afif Ridwan. That song became a hit in Damascus... every composer rushed to write her his tunes, and among those was Filmon Wehbi: a very revolutionary composer who wrote many pro-commie songs about revolutionaries like Che Guevara at that time. In Damascus, another 'Warda' sang there and that's why the managers of the stage insisted at calling her 'Al-Ghazaieryah' to distinguish her from that other Syrian less-scintillating starlet. She admitted to never liking that moniker at all, because it stigmatized her as only Algerian and not pan-Arabic.
With Riyadh Assunbathi: her first mentor. Crying?
Warda (second R) with some friends
in Cairo, around the early 70's.
Earlier, and around the beginning of the 50's when she was just 17 she was invited to sing at Cairo for Farid Al-Atrache who liked her young voice but asked her parents to wait until it got more mature. This happened when Lebanese producer Hilmi Raffleh invited her to Cairo to act at one of his films where a bouquet of roses was awaiting her at the lobby of the hotel where she stayed in Cairo sent by Assunbathi himself who composed to her 'Al-Jazayer' poem which she sang, and then Mohammed El-Mouji who gave her one of Saleh Al-Hazaki's nationalistic poems. Both of those composers were foreknown as Umm-Kalthoum's best, and in no time... Warda became a huge star in Egypt.
With Sabah (L) and Shadia (R),
the Rose sits in the middle.
At Al-Watan Al-Akbar's rehearsals,
with Sabah.
Her date with fame and fortune came when she sang at Al-Watan Al-Akbar operette in 1958 which was written by Ahmad Shafiq, and composed by Mohammed Abdelwahab. In it, she sang side by side with Abdel Halim Hafez, Shadia, Fayda Kamel, Najat Assaghierah, and Sabah. President Jamal Abdel-Nasser invited her again in 22th of November, 1962 to sing at Adwa'a Al-Madinah festival in Damascus and there she sang her song about 'Kulouna Jamilah' (We All Are Jamilah) to a deafening standing-O. During her short film-career in Cairo in which she acted in two films 'Almaz' directed by Raffleh himself and filmed in 1962 starring next to Adel Mamoun, and in 1963, Amirat Al-Arab with Egyptian star Rushdi Abazah she met her first husband; a military Algerian man named Jamal Qasiri whom she married and went back with him to Algiers in 1963.
Abdel Halim, Shadia, Warda, Fayza Ahmad 1962.


With her son Riyadh.
At her wedding with
her 1st husband Qasiri.
For the next nine years she stayed silent as her husband asked her never to sing again dimming her lights for a good decade, but her life blossomed during that time with two smaller 'wardas', or roses: her children Riyadh (named after her first mentor Riyadh Assunbathi), and Widad. In 1972, she came back to Cairo at the same time when Umm-Kalthoum was an old woman, Layla Murad wasn't active, Souad Mohammed was a married mother, Shadia and Sabah were busy with films, Fayza Ahmad was still burrowing her pathway in the singing concerts around Cairo, and Najat was solemn in her moody songs. As a female tarab singer, her place was beckoning her awaiting for her voice to come back singing two songs: El-Eioun Essoud 'The Black Eyes', and Wallah Zaman 'It's Been So Long', followed by her third film Sawt El-Houb (Sound of Love) which was filmed in 1973.

The Youm Kippour War was a loss to both sides, Egypt (above), and Israel (below).

That same year was devastating to most Arab singers. It was hailed as a "victory year" by communist Arab governments after the collateral Arab armies won the 'bottle-neck' Sinai Desert war (Youm Kippour) against Israel. All songs became stupid, repetitive, sham-jingoistic commie popaganda tunes. Warda's career was saved by the genie-in-a-bottle and her second husband Baligh Hamdy after she divorced her first one back in Algiers' when she broke the silence after Algiers president at that time Houari Bou-Medien asked her to sing at the tenth anniversary of Algiers' independence.
The best musical duo that came from Egypt: Warda & Baligh.
Their first meeting in a Cairo studio came at loggerheads during the recording sesh that ended with both accusing each other of being so selfish. Warda didn't like Baligh at all in her words: she even said in an interview that she hated him. But, this hate turned into a passionate love affair causing the divorce of her first husband Qasiri gaining her freedom at long deserving last (Note: she married a third man in secrecy, but maybe this is just 'gossipoisie' nonsense even when the sources are credible. She spent almost half of her life fighting gossip and was said that she even formed an anti-gossip society around Cairo in the late-70's!).
The genie Baligh Hamdy:
Warda's second husband.
Happyily married couple.
The love birds got married in 1972 (some say their marriage lasted for only one year, and others say it lasted until 1979, which makes sense but nothing is sure here). Baligh Hamdy took her under his wing even if his career was a fledgling one itself. Among many tunes that he has composed for her was a theatre musical called Tamr Hinna in 1975, followed by many songs and some T.V. appearances in a series called Awraq Al-Ward (Rose's Petals) in 1979. Another T.V. appearance was filmed at Dubai's T.V. at a variety show (Jadid Fe Jadid: All That's New), with the famous song that Baligh had written for her Binlif, N'lif, N'lif (We Turn, Turn, Turn - You can hear this wonderful song as a bonus in the downloads below), singing at that show with the old-school giants like Layla Murad, and new ones like Moroccan pop singer Samira Said (Baligh used to write Samira's early stuff, and his purported extramarital affair with her had cost them their marriage, unfortunately).
With her famous lower-lip bite... with Mohammed Abdel-Wahab.
Wahab, his wife, and Warda, 1957.
Warda was so easily recognized for her musical talent by other music geniuses such as Al-Mosiqar Mohammed Abdelwahab who spotted her so early on in her career (they met in the late 50's in Lebanon as she sang without knowing of his presence). This other genius gave her a tremendous opportunity to prove herself among those earliest giants of Tarab singers and she staid close to him and faithful until his very last hours before he died in 4th May, 1991 crying in her car for three hours parked in front of his house. She sang Bawada'ak (I Say Goodbye To You) especially for him before he finally died, knowing that she's going to lose him for good. She used to call him Baba or Father, and he made 50% of her personality along the way. In the late 80's, a new singing style for most Tarab singers was the norm whereas songs became shorter after averaging almost hour-long-plus "pieces" in the 70's. Tarab music changed forever, and it was an omen of the death of Romanticism in the Arab popular music circles after the passing of Abdel Halim, Umm-Kalthoum, Farid, and Abdel Wahab.
Warda with composer Mohammed El-Mouji.
Omar Baticha, Warda, & Sharnoubi
in a studio in the early 90's.
Baligh & Warda in a
studio, late 80's.
Warda had collaborated in the late-80's with new composers like Ammar Al-Sharaei who wrote for her many tunes, Mohammed El-Mouji (he worked with her for the album Zahabyat Warda, or her Golden hits remade in the mid-90s), then finally Salah Al-Sharnoubi who wrote 'Batwanness Beek' (With You, I Am Not Alone), and 'Harramt Ahebbak' (I Vowed Never To Love You Again), among many other wonderful neo-romantic songs, composing most of her sixth film's music (Lieh Ya Dunya - 1994), only for them two to fall at odds in 1996 and just like the case was with her ex-husband Baligh, they got back the next year to work together for her 1997 album 'Hubbak Mawasem' (Your Love Is Like The Seasons). Well, her career was pretty much like the seasons: always changing and finding herself hopping from this composer to that one until she stopped singing after her last album in 2001 (Ana Liea Mien Gherak) because she felt a bit ill, coming back only in the same year to sing a cassette written to her by Jamilah Bouhreid's brother (she used to sing about her in the 50's) falling into a musical coma again after an open-heart surgery followed by a liver-transplant surgery in the same year that has left her very weak.

In her latter days, 2011.
She went back to Algiers to recuperate and came back to T.V. in 2004 to be honoured by some Arab pop singers like the Kuwaiti Abdallah Al-Ruweishid, and Egyptian pop singers Angham, and Ihab Tewfic in a Lebanese satellite channel programme called Nawart El-Dar where she was filmed in her Algerian home taking care of her garden, kittens, and a pet parrot she nicknamed Pavarotti. After a strenuous bout in a musical wedding party for Amir Abdel-Migeed's wedding (a well-known composer) in one of Cairo's biggest five-star hotels, she fell seriously ill and was diagnosed with liver cancer. Admitted later to a hospital in Paris she went under chemo-therapy for months, but she stopped it because she lost almost 35 kilos of her body weight and most of her hair, and was forced to apologize from singing live at many festivals during her therapy and treatment phase because she grew weaker, and was unable to withstand the pressure of the stage act anymore, in addition to her looks after the chemo. Her career was signaling its last days, sadly... still she was optimistic and never was seen during those gruesome days without her pretty smile.
Warda: the Rose of Arabic Popular Music and Tarab's best.
Warda died after giving 40 years of her life straight out for nothing but music. She's to be remembered for this alone and will forever be regarded as one of the Arab world's best female singers who entertained millions (and still does, trust me...) for half a decade. Her career was if anything... the stuff of true legends. She sang at the Olympia theatre in Paris with Charles Aznavour 'La Bohéme' and after that she sang in 1995 at the Palais de Congres de Paris where many Egyptian and Arabic singers also had their epitome careers' moments at this old theatre's stage. Her life was a personification of that word, and she was known never to sleep the night before any concert. Also, one thing that was known about her was her infatuation with cats: she had all kinds of these moggies! Ces't La Vie de Bohéme.

Warda singing on T.V. in the 70's.

Her Career:

Her career can be divvied up into four stages: 1952-1955, 1955-1963, 1972-1992, and 1992-2010. Today we're going to get a listening opportunity to some of her best works from each of these four stages in (wait it) twenty two albums! and one bonus plus two singles that are all available to download from the links below. This is nothing compared to her extensive discography which I shall add more in future posts into this blog as time allows it. In the meantime, enjoy DL-ing these songs by the Arab world's Rose: Warda Al-Ghazaieryah (or, Al-Arabiyah as she might have liked it better).

Rest in beautiful peace, Warda.

Enjoy.

The Music:

Arabic Calligraphy art with her name in A-Thuluth script.

Dear blawggers: Again, this is just a small glimpse at one of the most prolific music careers in the Arab world. All these albums and cassettes were chosen from different periods of her musical creativity; albeit covering her whole career that spanned more than 40 years. For example, you got her early rare stuff that she sang in either Algerian or in her thick Lebanese accent in the mini-album that I myself collected for your listening pleasures as an archive of her earliest known records.

Warda in the mid-80's.
Bonuses are two single songs uploaded individually because they resemble important milestones in her career: (Koulinah) Jamilah (We All Are Jamilah) that she sang live in 1962 in Damascus' Officer's Club at the invitation of Jamal Abdel-Nasser and got her first fame across the Arab world, and the other one is Binlif, N'lif, N'lif sang with Baligh Hamdy live on Dubai T.V. in 1979 at the end of her relationship with him which ushered in her more pop-ish songs (Note: huge thanks must go to Yazeed@ yazeed.net for the headsup on this one. You can also watch it on his wonderful weblog).

The Symbol of Arab Music at her best.
At the end of this obit-post, I shall conclude by quoting one comment at an Arabic music forum; its words were laden with sadness, yet were so rosy just like Warda herself was. The writer said, "maybe the rose is gone, but her scent is still among us." He means her music. Yes, in all honesty she cannot die or wither away like any rose: Warda was one of those singers who were meant to sing, and live forever in a song. May her soul find its lasting peace in the hands of God. Amen.

Warda the 'old' Rose.

That's my tribute for Warda Al-Ghazaieryah guys... I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did myself.

If you need more of her stuff, you can click the link below for some of her films (full versions watchable on the 'Tube), and some of her best songs caught live on video. Dig.

Singing live, late 70's.

-Films And Videos:
-Watch all of her Films here.


Thank you for your time.


See ya soon.

H.H.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your work of love.
For a world that would make his dreams (no nightmares) a reality...
solipse

Gary said...

Totally great tribute.

LolaRadio said...

In sweet rememberence... Warda
Thank you for this one.

Anonymous said...

chokran..

Anonymous said...

Yep. Totally great tribute. Glad to have found this blog. Now, if I could just find a .flac rip of Andah A'aliek... anyone?

akhmatov said...

Thanks, Brother. Your blog is simply great, a real work of scholarship.
And it is a pity that the muther-sachers at media-fuh-eer keep deleting stuff.