Women Of Egypt 1924-1931: Pioneers Of Stardom And Fame
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Women Of Egypt 1924-1931: Pioneers Of Stardom And Fame (Topic World Series)

Listen:
"Asmar Helwah ya nas uhibuh"
"Qal eh ya hilif"

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Compilation and text by Amira Mitchell
Featuring: Umm Kulthumm, Fathiyyah Ahmed, Munira al-Mahdiyyah etc.

A CD compilation of fantastic Arab women, stars of Egyptian theatre and song who recorded in the nineteen twenties and early thirties. Taken from original 78rpm recordings of the time and remastered to the highest standards, this collection features among others the legendary Umm Kulthum.

Between 1890 and 1920, theatres and European-style cabarets sprang up all over Egypt. Performers flocked there from all over the Arab world and from Europe. Isadora Duncan, Pavlova and Mistinguette included Cairo in their world tours.

At their peak, the most famous female Arabic women singers were earning as much, if not more, than their male counterparts. The 1920s was the heyday of this music and its recordings and these performers can be seen as having struck a blow for the emancipation of women. The Wall Street crash and the associated economic downturn marked the end of the recording industries’ boom years, leaving us a legacy of remarkable performances of immense power.
topic-931 18.99 various Women Of Egypt 1924-1931: Pioneers Of Stardom And Fame Topic World Series Egypt africa julyx In 1932 Egyptian music had reached a perceived identity crisis so severe that King Fu'ad convened the Conference on Arab Music with a specific agenda to address the imminent extinction of traditional Arab music. In no small part, the lack of a clear, single identity is thanks to the parade of awkward, scandalous, wilful, fiercely entrepreneurial women whose voices are heard on this series of lively recordings. Listen to Raqs Badia'ah played by the Badia'ah Masabni Orchestra and you hear the sound of the small ensemble that provided the musical entertainment at Cairo's most progressive nightclub. The finger cymbals are played by Badia'ah herself, a glamorous dancer as well as singer, and the businesswoman who introduced to Cairo not just the western charleston, but also popularised the raqs sharki or bellydance as a cabaret entertainment. This valuable collection from the British Library Sound Archive charts the transition from traditional classical entertainment to the newer styles, influenced by visiting foreign stars such as Mistinguette and the rise of cabaret. The period of these recordings was a boom time with theatres and nightspots mushrooming in Cairo and rival record companies scrambling to tie up top performers to exclusive contracts. The journey takes us from vestiges of 19th century classical 'awalim to the satirical music-hall comedy of Ratibah Ahmed. The recordings may be scratchy in part, but they are enormously evocative and open the door to a cast of larger than life characters. As the thirties went on, the irresistible rise of Oum Kalthoum took hold, and this pioneering period of diverse performers, at the meeting point of scandal and respectability, where fortunes were won and lost, came to a respectable close. The future of Arabic music was safe again, if a fraction less anarchically exciting. - Tom Jackson

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