Oum Kalthoum, Om Kolthom, Om Kalsoum, Omm Kalsoum, Omme Kolsoum, Oom Koolsum, Oum Kalthoum, Oum Kalthum, Oum Kalsoum, Oum Kaltsoum, Oum Kolthoum, Oum Koulsoum, Oum Kulthum, Oum Kulthume, Um Kalthoum,

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My wife is Nagat's granddaughter. We lived in Cairo all last year and it was really amazing how celebrated Oum socially. 1 of every 5 cars was blasting her music, or more current artists from the 60s and 70s period, like Nagat. Even on the TV all the celebrated black and white movies, where a lot of these singers also acted, is dominating a dozen channels. The public really loves that period in Egyptian culture. My photo above is an Oum stencil that could be found on every block of the street.

Neal Cassady, Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:44 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

There is now a crater on the planet Mercury named for her. https://carnegiescience.edu/news/mercury-crater-naming-contest-winners-announced

mick signals, Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:56 (five years ago) link


curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 April 2015 02:36 (five years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Sorry I missed that message from the person with the Nagat connection. Definitely noteworthy.

Here is a late performance of Robaeyat el Khayam, at a much slower tempo than the more familiar earlier recording. At first I didn't care for that so much, but over time this realization goes to a lot of unique places:


_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 13:23 (five years ago) link

It does take a little while to get to the first passage with an intense tarab feel (at least in my listening), but it's worth it.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 13:35 (five years ago) link

I'd say it starts to get more intense a little before the 20 minute mark.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 13:48 (five years ago) link

This is closer to the style of her 40s and 50s performances than maybe any of her live recording I've heard from the 60's.

The kanunist does really crazy runs like I don't think I've ever heard in an Oum Kalthoum song. Would be overkill on a regular basis, but the novelty of it is enjoyable here.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 14:43 (five years ago) link

eleven months pass...

All Robaiyat el Khayam all the time:


Wish they would do a proper release of all of this live material, with English language information, but in the mean time this channel is amazing. I haven't even made my way through just the live variants for this one song.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 23 April 2016 16:18 (four years ago) link

I became a pretty big fan after reading this thread 7 or 8 years ago. I looked at a random tv show clip in black and white and abysmal sound and it pushed all my buttons, hairs standing on end. She's the real thing, no doubt.

I agree -- fucking hell it's hard to figure out what's what in her oeuvre! I've accumulated dozens of long-song mp3s and a few random cds over the years (the ones with the arabesque patterned artwork, must've been a series) and have a decent collection now but she remains a complete mystery! In a way that is part of the appeal but is still a little frustrating. I HATE the later era when the harmonium is introduced, but everything before that is pretty uniformly amazing as far as I can tell.

Still have no idea how to spell/pronounce her name! Some people I know had this stupid device where you talk to it and it finds the music you ask for and naturally, trying to stump it, I tried about 10 different Oum Kalthoum pronunciations and they all failed miserably.

liam fennell, Monday, 25 April 2016 12:57 (four years ago) link

If you have not read it, Virginia Danielson's Voice of Egypt provides a good orientation. Also, her dissertation (that the book is based on) includes an appendix which attempts to list all the songs Oum Kalthoum performed, with some basic information about them (lyricist/poet, composer, maqam, date of first performance).

But that Nizar Nasser channel takes it all to another level in terms of collecting live recordings. I just wish it had information in English.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 25 April 2016 16:57 (four years ago) link

I became a pretty big fan after reading this thread 7 or 8 years ago. I looked at a random tv show clip in black and white and abysmal sound and it pushed all my buttons, hairs standing on end. She's the real thing, no doubt.

Ha, this is my experience too. Knew nothing about her until this thread, still know pretty much nothing except that I love her.

emil.y, Monday, 25 April 2016 17:03 (four years ago) link

She is really on fire early on, in this performance of Zikrayat that I've never heard before:


Control = Passion

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 8 May 2016 03:38 (four years ago) link

The downtempo passage that starts about 30 minutes in.


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 8 May 2016 04:11 (four years ago) link

Ana Fi Intazarak (not the one available as a commercial CD), with some very interesting discussion:


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 16 May 2016 02:54 (four years ago) link

(I mean, not the performance. Obviously it's the same song.)

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 16 May 2016 02:55 (four years ago) link

one month passes...


Special tribute concert and panel at the National Museum of women in the Arts in Washington DC July 10 from 3 to 5 pm

This Cultural Capital session honors Egyptian contralto singer and songwriter Umm Kulthum (ca. 1904–1975). Frequently referred to as the “Voice of Egypt” or the “Star of the East,” Kulthum remains an unprecedented icon of the Arab world. Her influence and image continue to resonate, inspiring musicians and artists alike.

The day features performances in Arabic from Kulthum’s beloved repertoire, and a moderated conversation about the social and political context in which Kulthum became the “Diva of Arabic Song,” during some of the most significant historical events in Egypt and the Arab World in the 20th century.

Huda Asfour, performer and composer
Lubana Al Quntar, soprano
Laura Lohman, associate professor of music, California State University, Fullerton
Hazami Sayed, executive director, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Philadelphia
Lyne Sneige (moderator), director, Arts & Culture Program, Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C.
A reception will follow the performances and moderated conversations. Special tours of She Who Tells a Story: Women from Iran and the Arab World will be offered prior to the program starting at 2 p.m.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 28 June 2016 14:46 (four years ago) link

three months pass...

I've only really become aware of هو صحيح الهوى غلاب Howa (Huwa, Hoa, Howwa) Sahih (despite hearing excerpts from it ages ago), relatively recently. I read in a youtube comment that this was a piece written by Zakarya Ahmed ten years after his falling out with Oum Kalthoum. Confirmed here:


I knew she had successfully sued him for performing a song she had previously recorded, that he had written for her, but I don't remember being aware that they had ever reconciled. And then he died a year after he wrote this song, which has to be one of the best of her later career period.

(Not pretending to know Arabic, but using Arabic script is generally the most effective way to do title searches.)

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 15 October 2016 23:03 (three years ago) link

Had posted at least some of this song earlier in the thread, with an especially famous passage of improvisation ("Nazra," etc.) from one of her post-Six Day War concerts in North Africa.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 15 October 2016 23:15 (three years ago) link

I think this is the main recording and I think it's better than the two I just posted above, overall:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:05 (three years ago) link

Not sure who messed up at 46:11 in that 1968 performance. She seems to jump the gun though.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:45 (three years ago) link

Wait. No. It's not just my imagination. Embedded youtube videos are getting bigger.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:45 (three years ago) link

46:40 - Okay, she just shut me up with that.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:50 (three years ago) link

And everything that has followed, so far.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:51 (three years ago) link

(On further listening, I'll take this "68 version, but I think there may be a couple different early 60s versions floating around even on Spotify, unless I'm getting it mixed up with a different song.)

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 04:19 (three years ago) link

I didn't realize that Neal Cassady was a regular poster here. I just assumed he was someone just stopping in at this thread. I should really read the rolling post-Fahey etc. etc. thread since some of it would interest me.

I have several Nagat cassettes I used to listen to pretty regularly at one time (back when I listened to a lot of Warda).

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 15:51 (three years ago) link

More Howa Sahih (thanks to the great Nizar Nasser channel):


Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 29 October 2016 20:13 (three years ago) link

Not sure who messed up at 46:11 in that 1968 performance. She seems to jump the gun though.

On further listening, I think what happens is that she decides to switch directions at the last minute and the accompaniment doesn't follow it. Based on what follows, it seems that she had gotten an inspiration. It is quite abrupt though.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 29 October 2016 20:16 (three years ago) link

needed to be a poll

the kids are alt right (darraghmac), Sunday, 30 October 2016 00:31 (three years ago) link

A poll for me alone.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Sunday, 30 October 2016 03:55 (three years ago) link

I strongly suspect this Nizar Nasser who has a youtube channel full of Oum Kalthoum recordings is a descendant of Gamal Abdel Nasser, which would explain his access to so many rare recordings.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Sunday, 30 October 2016 04:03 (three years ago) link

Sounds like a good guess.

curmudgeon, Monday, 31 October 2016 14:28 (three years ago) link

I'm not surprised that there are so many great performances of her songs, but I'm a little surprised by how many of the 60s performances hark back to the her more tarab-oriented 40s and 50s approach. Hearing her 60s versions of older songs actually increases my esteem for her, if that's possible. As I've often said, overall I have less use for her 60s (especially mid-to-late) and 70s songs, but now her 60s career is more fully fleshed out by live recordings.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 5 November 2016 16:51 (three years ago) link

Less than fabulous audio, but a great performance of Sahran Lewahdi, different from the one on CD:


Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Sunday, 6 November 2016 01:05 (three years ago) link

I like much of what I hear here, but I haven't found the time to really listen a lot. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting.

curmudgeon, Monday, 7 November 2016 00:20 (three years ago) link

I don't know if I'm doing any heavy lifting, but glad you find it useful.

I don't think I've ever heard anything like this before. It appears to be one concert where she sings three different songs back to back (more or less). I think she introduces the last song as well, but I'm not sure. I am not that confident of recognizing her speaking voice. Two of my favorite songs included.


I plan on finally trying to listen to a list of (more or less) all her songs, which should be possible between Spotify and youtube. However, a lot has gone missing from Spotify. I don't know how much of it was just duplicate copies of things, but I think some of it might not have been.

(I do take breaks from listening to her. The heaviness can be too much after a certain point. I've tried listening to different version of Sahran Lewahdi back to back and it's just too much wailing for me at one sitting, to be honest.)

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Tuesday, 8 November 2016 03:37 (three years ago) link

I don't think I've ever heard her introduce a song before, if that's what's happening before the third track (Ana Fi Intazark), in the video above. This makes me want to hear more from the mid-40s. The concert sounds quite intimate compared to what came later, though maybe not more than others I've heard from this time-frame.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Tuesday, 8 November 2016 04:35 (three years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Another fine ياظالمني (Ya Zalamny), such a great piece:


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 28 November 2016 06:07 (three years ago) link

Segment of the very upbeat film song Ghannili Sheway Sheway, apparently with audience sing-along, unless she had a chorus with her for this song, but seems like an audience thing:


Please ban from the internet the person leaving one thumbs down on a lot of these videos.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 3 December 2016 04:43 (three years ago) link

Terrific photo of Oum Kalthoum with Fairouz


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 3 December 2016 04:53 (three years ago) link

Have not linked to this lately (or possibly ever). A "reasonably complete" list of her songs:


I think this is the same as what's in an appendix of Virginia Louise Danielson's thesis.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 3 December 2016 06:55 (three years ago) link

Another performance of Ya Zalamni. It's such a privilege to hear how she varied the performance for some of these songs from concert to concert. Much of her improvising here goes in very different directions than the main recording I'm familir with:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 03:07 (three years ago) link

It looks like I have somehow never mentioned Awedt Einy on this thread, unless I gave it some sort of spelling I can't currently remember. Just bookmarked a search on recordings of this song which is somewhat similar to Ya Zalamni (and came out at around the same time I think). So far, so good:


Just amazing to be able to hear all of this.

(I've never said it before but Oum Kalthoum's kanunist looks like a character actor.)

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 03:40 (three years ago) link

Instrumental jazz cover of Baligh Hamdi's Alf Layla Wa Layla (late career Oum Kalthoum song) that I missed last year:


I miss the extremely varied orchestration of the original. One of the enjoyable things about late period Oum Kalthoum songs is that they tend to have a wide sound palate in performance, so you get some electric gutiar, some accordion, some saxophone, etc. along with the core of her orchestra.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 16:17 (three years ago) link

The original:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 16:24 (three years ago) link

Sorry but not finding the Maalouf too exciting.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 16:41 (three years ago) link

I also really like the emphatic quality of the strings on the Oum Kalthoum Alf Lyla recording (I was thinking "strident" but then I listened again and it's not quite strident). And the bent notes on electric guitar, few though they are.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 6 December 2016 06:21 (three years ago) link

You watnt to do a contemporary instrumental of a Baligh Hamdi song? Maybe you should try some sort of maximalist electric and electronic approach. (Not that there aren't some good melodies that can be worked with in a fairly straight form, but I think maybe the emphasis should be on worked with, rather than just following the way the songs play out when sung.)

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 6 December 2016 06:28 (three years ago) link

جددت حبك ليه / Gadedt Hobak Leh.


This kind of goes on and on but it's wonderful. In recordings from this time period, the sound of her voice as such is often enough to keep me absorbed. I think my CD copy of a version of it has a transliteration that includes an unpronounceably consonant-laden initial word.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 December 2016 05:38 (three years ago) link

Fun concert footage of Howwa Sahih, partly for all the audience shots. I'm guessing this is an Egyptian audience because while they are certainly engaged, they also seem kind of relaxed, not like the over the top audiences she often had when she toured other countries.


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:10 (three years ago) link

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