I recently ran across an article about an Egyptian singer named Umm Kulthum. I had never heard of her, so I sent the story’s link to a friend of mine who is from Egypt to see if he was familiar with her. He sent me the following reply:
“I remember that she used to hold live 3-4 hour concerts the first Thursday evening of the month from Cairo that would be broadcast on the radio to the entire Arab world. It is not an exaggeration to say that the entire Arab world from Baghdad to Algeria would be glued to the radio listening. I know that in Egypt the entire country (young and old) would be mesmerized the first Thursday of the month. What was remarkable was that her concerts were only one song that she would sing without break for 3-4 hours. The lyrics were poetry. Her records to this day are still the best seller in Egypt. She was a phenomenon that has never been replicated.”
He also sent me a link to a National Public Radio (NPR) segment about Umm Kulthum that was quite interesting. I noticed that the report was one of a series called “50 Great Voices.” I found a list of all 50 reports and was fascinated to find so many singers I enjoy, as well as many I’ve never heard of before. As you might expect, the list is heavy on American singers, but there are many from other countries as well.
It’s important to learn about other people and what is important to them, so take time to listen to some of the reports – especially about singers from other lands and other cultures. And be sure to check out the links to additional NPR segments that you will find within each of the 50 reports.