Yemenity2010's Blog

Romance and Rhythm from Three Female Singers with Yemeni Roots

Posted in Blog Entry in English, Tema: Kultur by yemenity2010 on 13/08/2012

Yemeni singers. Male ones – well, they tend to appear at wedding parties and such, I learnt during my time in Taiz. Female ones seem to be a rare sort of bird. But they do exist, at least according to a recent blog entry from Afrah Nasser, Yemeni writer currently living in Sweden.

 

Recently I stumbled across a list that caught my attention, not least because of my fascination for  topics such as culture in general and music in particular. I spent a fair amount of time in Yemen trying to figure out what kind of music people (predominantly students and young adults) listen to on a daily basis, why and for what purpose, what they can learn to appreciate and what they spontaneously dislike. The final outcome of these little investigations are still an unfinished project, that I hope will be presented some time in the future. I published some reflections in the entry  ”Music On My Mind – Part 1” (december 2010).

Three Yemeni singers. As I said, female ones. Now, these three artists all have roots in Yemen, but none of them actually lives there.And it has to be said, for a woman making a career as a singer or an artist of any kind will probably have to counter a number of obstacles in the Yemeni society. I find it difficult to interpret my own impressions of this intriguing country any other way.

Balqees Ahmed Fathi is the daughter of a famous Yemeni singer, Ahmed Fathi, apparently a big star during the 1990’s. Balqees herself seems to have been living mostly in the United Arab Emirates and has been recognized as a great talent by a French fashion magazine. Rana al-Haddad also has a famous singing father and has landed a contract with a leading Saudi Arabian music company. Finally, Arwa is not only a pop star but also a TV show host, born in Kuwait by a Yemeni father and and an Egyptian mother. She also seems to have spent most of her life outside of Yemen.

Judging from some attached video clips, Balqees is directed towards a romantic and rhythmic sort of pop music and she does have a more than adequate voice for the purpose. Rana delivers an anthem that could have been sponsored by the Yemeni ministry of tourism, providing some nice views of the old town in Sana’a and other national attractions. The editing, however, is not the smoothest I’ve seen and the presentation as a whole borders on kitsch, though not without its charm. Her own voice is a strength and the genre could be defined as a more traditional form of oriental pop. Arwa works more in the same vein as Balqees with an obvious emphasis on romance and glamour. Pretty nice and well produced, though not exceptionally original or visionary. All in all – three faces (and voices) completely new to me, and definitely worth checking out if you have the slightest interest in what kind of popular music gets created in the Middle East.

Source: ”Let me Present To You Three Dazzling Yemeni Singers” by Afrah Nasser / July 15, 2012

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