Umm Kulthum Essay

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Umm Kulthum: More than a Voice “Imagine a singer with the virtuosity of Joan Sutherland or Ella Fitzgerald’ the public persona of Eleanor Roosevelt and the audience of Elvis and you have Umm Kulthum, the most accomplished singer of her century in the Arab world.” — Virginia Danielson Egyptian-born vocalist Umm Kulthum is considered on of the most famous singers in the modern-Arab world. Along with her incredible vocal range, and beautiful voice, her singing was a symbol of the Egyptian national spirit during the period from Egypt’s emergence from British colonial rule through the first decades of that country’s independence. Kulthum was born in Tamayet-el-Zahayra, a rural village in Egypt’s Nile delta. Her birth year is not exact, but typically set around 1904. She was born into a poor family, and her father led the local mosque while her mother was the home keeper. At the age of five she began to study the Qur’an at a local Islamic religious school. Umm’s father, brother, and a nephew would sing religious songs at weddings and other events in the surrounding villages. Umm learned the songs by hearing her father teach them to the boys. Umm made her first impression as a powerful vocalist when she filled in for her sick brother. At only about six years old she amazed the audience with her incredible voice, and was promptly invited to perform in another village. Word spread, and her voice was suddenly in great demand. She once remarked "that it seemed to her they walked the entire Delta before they ever set foot in Cairo." Because crowds were sometimes drunk and rowdy, Kulthum's father took the precaution to dress her as a boy. By 1917, the family began to consider a serious singing career for Umm Kulthum and in about 1922 they moved to Cairo to launch her in the commercial music business. Umm was not an immediate

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