Monday, May 12, 2008

Qawkab ash Sharq on NPR

NPR has a 13 minutes piece on Umm Kalthoum here. Interviews with the director of the Umm Kalthoum museum, Dr Walid Shousha and Virginia Danielson , whom has written Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt on the star, it´s also available in a DVD version here.

Danielson says that in order to describe the lady and how popular she was(and still is) you have to think of the musical tops of Ella Fitzgerald combined with the public persona of Elinor Roosevelt and the audience of Elvis Presley - it´s pretty much what i usually say when being asked the question of her popularity, though i would say that if you combine the popularity of Elvis, the Beatles and Michael Jackson(in the 80´s, before turning bad), then perhaps you will begin to grasp her popularity, callled the fourth pyramid, the only name that perhaps can match her in Egypt during the last 60 years of Egyptian history is Nasser´s. Maybe it´s no coincidence that their respective careers were so intertwined. Her career was huge prior to the 1952 revolution, but she would probably not have been able to transcend the boundaries of Egypt and become the Arab diva of her generation, if not for the parallel political change in the Arab world with Nasser as it´s undisputable leader from 1956-67, and the importance of the radio station Sawt al Arab, that in some way was the equivalent of al Jazeera today, in terms of impact. at the time, her song "Walla Zaman Ya Selahy" (Oh, My Weapon) was the national anthem from 1960 to the Camp David accords 1979.

Her most popular songs are anta oumri and al atlal, and she is the definite voice of her century in Egypt. More about her life and music can be found here, here, here and here.

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