So you've done your research. You're familiar with the classics, you know who composed and sang the more traditional music. You recognize names of Masters such as Oum Kalthoum, Mohamad Abdel Waheb, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Warda. Are you done? Was that all there was to it? Nope.You knew what the answer was going to be. As responsible performing bellydancers we must also be up on the singers of our time. We must be familiar with what is popular today. I don't mean the music that is somewhat Mid East influenced. No I'm referring to the actual music and videos getting airtime in Egypt, in Lebanon -- as that is where most of the music I'm talking about is produced. Whether you dance to this music or not it behooves you to know these artists.
Here is a VERY basic list. Please know that this list is in no way exhaustive.
1. Najwa Karam - If you've taken my classes you know I'm a huge fan of hers. She is a Lebanese singer. She is a best selling artist and is not only popular in the Middle East but worldwide. She is famous for her Mawwal (free vocal improvisation at the start of the song). My husband is in love with her -- it's ok, we're all allowed at least one of those types of loves right? You know, the fantasy that will never happen.
2. Nancy Ajram - Another worldwide famous Lebanese singer. One of her earlier hits was the super popular tune "Ah We Noss". You've probably heard it without realizing it.
3. Amr Diab -- is a well know Egyptian singer. Selling millions and millions of albums has made him "The Father of Mediterranean Music". This term comes from the blend that his music has become. A fusion of both Western and Egyptian sounds and styles. Oh and when you look for his music don't go by his album covers -- he somehow seems to get younger with every new album cover that is released - so that might throw you off. The guy looks amazing.
Not the best video clip but it's a good look at the size of his band - serious stuff.
4. Hakim - dubbed "The Lion of Egypt" yeah, that's how big a star he is. His genre of music is more Sha'abi (it's the music of the streets, of the ghetto, music by the people). He definitely plays with Western (and various other) influences. And these worlds love him back. His song "El Salamu Alaiku" was featured in the movie "Vanity Fair". He has produced duets with James Brown (no intro necessary), with Olga Tañon (ginormous Latin star - and shouldn't need an intro either) just to name a couple. He was the first artist from the Middle East to ever perform at a Nobel Peace Prize event. Yes -you MUST know who Hakim is.
Notice he starts with a Mawwal
5. Fadel Shaker is a famous Palestinian singer. He's been producing hits since 1998. He is known as the King of Romance...yeah baby...
Ya Ghayeb -- huge hit in 2003 for Fadel even before the release of any album or video. Composed by famous Greek singer, Sotis Volanis.
Who are some of your favorite current Mid East Pop artists? Please share.