Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekly Report 3: Musicians of the Arab World

Asmahan was an actress and singer of Syrian descent believed to have been born in 1918. Her name by birth was Amal El Atrach before she changed it for the stage later in life. Her father was a member of the famous Druze family of Al-Atrash and her mother- who helped introduce her to singing was a princess. After her father’s death when she was six, her family moved to Cairo where her mother helped her and her brother develop their talents of performing. Her brother, Farid El-Atrash, also became a famous performer. She married several times and had a child; however she divorced her husbands because she enjoyed having her career.

Her debut was at the Cairo Opera house at while she was still in her teens.When she became famous, she mainly sang in classical Arabic or Arabic with Egyptian Influences.  She performed in many musicals such as “Gharam Wa Intiqam”.  Due to her interest in European music, many of Asmahan’s songs had a European influence.  

Asmahan was believed to have been a spy for the British during World War II. She acted on behalf of the British to speak with the Druze to convince them to allow the British to march through their territory without any opposition so that they could go on to oppose the Nazis. The Druze complied, and Asmahan was paid 40,000 British Pounds for this service.  The British made a promise to the Druze concerning the freedom of Lebanon which they did not follow through on, so Asmahan tried to contact the Nazis in Turkey, however she was caught and deported to Lebanon.

Asmahan died in her early thirties due to a car crash that many believe to have mysterious or even suspicious circumstances and as a result, there were many rumors concerning the situation and possible reasons behind her death.

Sources:

Asmahan. n.d. Web. 26 February 2016. <http://en.hibamusic.com/Syrie/asmahan/asmahan-286.htm>.


Lemon, Jason. Google honors mysterious Arab singer Asmahan on 103rd birthday. 25 November 2015. Web. 26 February 2016.

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