The music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab, a masterful recording of Arabic music by Simon Shaheen

Simon Shaheen – The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab (Zehra, 2022)

The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab is a remastered reissue of one of Simon Shaheen’s finest works. Simon Shaheen is an acclaimed US-based multi-instrumentalist and composer.

On The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Simon Shaheen delivers stellar solo performances on oud, violin and viola as well as masterful interaction with a string orchestra and a superb ensemble of top instrumentalists who perform a wide array of Arabic and Western musical instruments, including an irresistible layer of percussion.

Egyptian artist Mohamed Abdel Wahab (1902-1991) was a major entertainment star in the Middle East. He was a very talented singer, actor and composer and is considered “the father of modern Egyptian song”.

After a stint in Paris, Mohamed Abdel Wahab revolutionized the Middle Eastern film industry by introducing the “musical film” genre to the Arab world. The film “The White Rose” in which he
broke all records and is to this day frequently shown in Cairo cinemas.

In 1950, Wahab left the film industry to devote himself to singing and composing. Indeed, he wrote more than 1800 songs (among others for the legendary Umm Kulthum, emblematic artist of Arabic music in her own right) deeply rooted in classical Arabic music. However, Wahab also laid the foundation for a new era of Egyptian music as he was open to Western musical elements such as waltz rhythms or even rock music in Abdel Halim Hafez’s song “Ya Albi Ya Khali” .

Wahab also composed several national anthems (Tunisia, Oman, Libya, United Arab Emirates) and recomposed the Egyptian national anthem “Belady Belady Belady”, based on the original by Sayed Darwish.

Additionally, Wahab received several decorations from Arab states, and upon his death in 1991, Egypt honored his famous son with a huge military funeral at the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo. The six-horse procession carrying his coffin was actually led by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Ministers, followed by the Ministers of Defence, Interior and Culture.

The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab was released in 1990 on Axiom, the label
created by influential producer and bassist Bill Laswell.

The range includes Simon Chaheen on the oud, violin, viola and choir; Najib Chaheen on oud; Sheikh Taha on the accordion; Anton Hajjar on ney; Paula Bing on the flute; Ramzi Bisharat on table; Hanna Mirhige on mizhar; Michael Baklouk on daff; Bobby Farah on sagat; Ibrahim Salman on qanun; Artemis Theodos, Gabriel Palca, Nessim Dakwarand Kamil Shajrawi on the violin; Michael Richmond on the double bass; Michael Finkel and Vladimir Greenberg on the cello; Laura Shaheen, Louise Salman, Maurice Chedid, Nermine Rawiand Youssef Kassab in chorus.

Learn more about Simon Shaheen.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music for many years. He founded the sites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel is also co-founder of the Transglobal World Music Chart. Angel has also produced and remastered world music studio albums and compilations for labels such as Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts and Music of the World.

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