On the road from Beirut and Cairo, the sound of music rings everywhere, intimately as the roads intertwine. A song by Umm Kulthum and another by Fairouz, Warda, Sabah, and other stars who were and still are a symbol of the Arab artistic revolution.
From May 19 to September 26, the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris celebrates the magic of female stars who shaped the golden age of Arab music and cinema. Read also On the anniversary of her birth.. the most prominent stations of Umm Kulthum’s journey to the throne of Arab signalling Abdel Aziz’s memoirs.. The secret of Abdel Nasser’s mediation and disagreements with Akkad and Umm Kulthum Video – Legend Forum.. Here, Iraqis recall their memories of Umm Kulthum’s songs Zakaria Ahmed.. Deposed the sheikh’s aunt for the sake of music and pursued Umm Kulthum in the courts
The exhibition begins in Cairo at the beginning of the twentieth century at the height of the intellectual renaissance, as the Egyptian capital was considered an active cultural center that attracted artists from all countries of the Arab world.
At a time when the artistic scene in the 19th century was mainly dominated by men, the situation changed in the twenties and the number of people demanding the freedom and role of women in artistic and intellectual circles increased.
In 1923, pioneers of the Egyptian and Arab feminist movement Hoda Shaarawy and Siza Nabarawy founded the Egyptian Feminist Union to defend women’s rights.
This stop of the exhibition sheds light on the feminist struggle, which aimed to enhance the presence of women in the intellectual and cultural arena in Arab societies. For example, the “Egyptian Woman” magazine and a number of satirical and entertainment newspapers were founded, such as “Rose Al-Youssef” (1925) and named after its owner, the actress Rose, who had an active role in reviving the Egyptian theater in the period between the two world wars.
In addition, the literary salon had an important place for women at the time, as it was considered a platform for expressing women’s emancipation. During this period, many names emerged, such as the writer and journalist Mai Ziadeh, who was defending the right of girls to education.
This first part of the exhibition pays tribute to the first stars who fell from memory, especially the singer Munira al-Mahdiyya, Badia Masabni, Aziza Amir and others.
From shadows to lights
Stars of Arab singing came from different social backgrounds, origins and beliefs, but they all participated in gaining wide popularity thanks to their golden voices from the beginning of the 1940s until the end of the 1960s.
The Arab World Institute focuses – during this artistic event – on the four exceptional singers: Umm Kulthum, Warda Al Jazairia, Asmahan, and Fairouz.
While moving between the corridors of the exhibition, visitors enjoy the most beautiful and famous songs that are still chanted and sung to this day in all Arab countries.
Furthermore, the exhibition presents the stars’ personal items such as Warda’s Algerian, French and diplomatic passport and video clips of her signature songs, including a patriotic song for the liberation of Algeria, which she donated part of its proceeds to the National Liberation Front.
For lovers of fashion, the exhibition presents a special section for the fashion of the stars, especially the dresses of “Al-Shahroura” Sabah, which the Institute obtained from her granddaughter during her visit to Beirut. This iconic artist has appeared in 100 films and has sung over 3,000 songs.
We also watch excerpts from video concerts by Umm Kulthum, who was nicknamed by the masses as “the planet of the east” for being “the most famous singer in the Arab world in the twentieth century”, as well as the Lebanese singer Fairouz, who became famous worldwide thanks to her songs for Palestine, to become the spirit and heart of the Arab world.
Hollywood on the banks of the Nile
Egypt was the fourth largest producer of films in the world from the late thirties until the early seventies, when Egyptian cinema witnessed its “golden age” and was producing between 50 and 60 films each year.
Lyrical, comedic, and dramatic films were the cornerstone of the popular rise and success of this industry, and the founding of Talaat Harb Pasha’s “Studio Misr” in 1935 also contributed to this.
The films of this period were characterized by reviews and songs and prompted producers to prefer producing musical films. By the 1960s, no less than 225 dance music films had come out of the industry, propelled by comic magazines and catchy and expressive movie posters.
This part of the exhibition dedicates a space to introduce the works of Egyptian cinema “Niloud” and musical films, as well as star singers, actresses and dancers, such as Laila Mourad, Souad Hosni, Tahia Karioka, Faten Hamama, Hend Rostom and Dalida.
At that time, the name of Samia Gamal emerged, whose style combined oriental dance, Hollywood style and classical ballet with a Latin American touch, and was the first dancer to dance in high heels.
As for Laila Murad, her voice earned her the appreciation of the greatest directors and composers, and she won the title of “The Guitar of the East”, and Umm Kulthum chose her as the official singer of the revolution.
“Cinderella of Egyptian Cinema” Soad Hosni occupies a special place in the hearts of Arab peoples. She participated in 75 comedies and dramas.
The “Institut du Monde Arabe” will carry out activities accompanying the exhibition, including: an evening “Salute to the Sheikhs of Morocco”, which expresses the musical heritage and style of Moroccan women, and the “Princesses of the Arab Song” evening will include the songs of Umm Kulthum, Asmahan and Fairouz, which will be performed by Tunisian artist Drsaf Hamdani.