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Samha El-Kholy

(b Cairo, 1910; d Cairo, May 3, 1991). Egyptian composer and singer. As a child he had a remarkable musical memory, and at the age of seven he joined a drama troupe to sing during intervals. In 1920 he began studies of traditional Arab music at the Arabic Music Club (now the Institute of Arabic Music), and he also studied Western music for a time at the Bergrün School in Cairo. He then embarked on a dual career as a singer-composer; possessing a fine baritone voice, he achieved great popularity, and he also won fame for his improvisations on the ‘...

Article

Abeti  

Gary Stewart

(b Stanleyville [Kisangani], Belgian Congo [Democratic Republic of the Congo], Nov 9, 1951; d Paris, Sept 29, 1994). Congolese singer and songwriter. Abeti first reached prominence in West Africa in the early 1970s under the tutelage of Togolese impresario Gérard Akueson who later became her husband. On the strength of her West African following, Abeti performed at the Paris Olympia concert hall in ...

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Val Wilmer

(b Cape Town, June 26, 1947). South African drummer, percussionist, singer, and leader. Known first for his singing, he developed as a drummer by accompanying other singers in Cape Town and playing with the quartet led by the pianist Cecil May. In 1962...

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(bIsmâ’ ilîya, Egypt, June 8, 1931). Frenchsinger and pianist. He studied music in Paris and played piano with Don Byas (1955) and Stephane Grappelli (1957). He was a singer with the Blue Stars (1955–6), toured and recorded with the Double Six (...

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Daniel Avorgbedor

(b Adiemmra, Ghana, March 31, 1945). Ghanaian popular guitarist, singer and master of guitar-band. Highlife and concert parties. He formed the African Brothers International Dance Band in 1963, a band that produced important musicians such as the late Eddie Donkor. Ampadu acquired rudimentary guitar skills with the help of P.K. Yamoah and worked briefly at the Ministry of Agriculture in his home district area. He performed briefly with the T.O. Jazz band led by T.O. Ampoma in ...

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Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b during a voyage from Turkey to Syria, 1917; d Egypt, July 14, 1944). Syrian singer. Born to a well-known Syrian family, she moved to Cairo with her family in 1924 and made some commercial recordings while still a teenager. In 1932 she married her cousin Prince Ḥasan al-Aṭrash and returned to Syria. After giving birth to a daughter she was pronounced unable to produce any more children (and not therefore a son and heir). She left her husband to give him the chance of having an heir, and thereafter deep sadness marked her life and the romantic meanings in her songs....

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Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ...

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Daniel Avorgbedor

(b Gonder, Ethiopia, 1961). Ethiopian singer. Ashter began her singing career in the early 1970s in Addis Ababa, and performed with the band Roha (formerly Shebele Band). Her formative musical years were also shaped by the music of Bezunesh Bekele and the philanthropy of Ali Tango, which provided motivation for the singer. Ashter emigrated to the USA in ...

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Andrew Porter

(b Birmingham, March 23, 1933). English baritone. He studied at Rhodes University, South Africa, and at the Vienna Music Academy, making his début with the Vienna Chamber Opera as Tobias Mill in Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio in 1959. He sang at Linz (...

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Gregory F. Barz

(b Democratic Republic of the Congo). Congolese singer and performer. Formerly a singer with Tabu Ley Rochereau’s band Afrisa International during the 1980s, Bel began her career as a dancer for Abeti Masekini, an important early singer in the Zaïrean popular tradition. While Bel’s earlier performances and recordings, especially those made with Rochereau, are firmly rooted in the heavily guitar-driven Zaïrean ...

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Gary W. Kennedy

(b Cape Town, South Africa, Oct 17, 1936). South African singer. The name Sathima, which means “person with a kind heart,” was given to her by Johnny Dyani and was originally spelled Satima. She sang standards and show tunes in local groups as a teenager and was performing professionally by the late 1950s. From ...

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Gregory F. Barz

(b Dimbokro, Côte d'Ivoire, Jan 1, 1953). Ivorian singer. He is known for his performances of Afro-Reggae. He and his band Solar System sing in French, English, Arabic, Hebrew and Dioula. Unlike the lyrics of Jamaican reggae, Blondy's lyrics are primarily political; his songs often concern issues of freedom, unity and social revolution. His first single, ...

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Ray Pallett

(b Laurenço Marques [now Maputo], Jan 7, 1899; d London, April 17, 1941). British popular singer. His father was Greek, his mother was Lebanese. Bowlly was brought up in South Africa and joined Edgar Adeler’s leading dance band in 1922, touring South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, East Africa and the Far East. He left Adeler in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Durban, Oct 9, 1953). British mezzo-soprano of South African birth. She studied in London at the RCM, then joined the ENO in 1978 as a soprano, singing Zerlina, Pamina, Cherubino, Martinů's Julietta, Jenny (Bennett's The Mines of Sulphur), Marzelline and Mimì. By ...

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James May

(b Durban, June 12, 1932). South African soprano . After initial studies in Johannesburg she was a pupil of Maria Hittorf and Joseph Witt in Vienna (from 1954). She made her début at the Vienna Staatsoper in 1956 as the Queen of Night, a role with which she achieved considerable fame and which she sang in most of the major opera houses in Europe. From ...

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Vera H. Flaig

(b Kan Kan, Guinea, West Africa, 1958). American singer, dancer, and drummer of Guinean birth. As a child, Conde contracted polio, which left him unable to walk by the age of 14. While living with his grandfather in a nearby village, Conde discovered his gift for music. Despite his physical limitations, he learned to dance for his initiation ceremony. From ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Port Elizabeth, Oct 22, 1946; d London, February 18, 2012). Irish soprano of South African birth. She studied at the London Opera Centre, making her début in 1972 as a mezzo-soprano at Wexford as Varvara (Kát'a Kabanová). With Australian Opera (...

Article

Harold Rosenthal and Alan Blyth

(b on board ship between Oran, Algeria, and Altea, Aug 12, 1891; d Valencia, April 2, 1952). Spanish tenor. He studied in Madrid, where he sang in the chorus at the Teatro Real. At first he sang minor roles, then began to assume leading roles (Cavaradossi, Don José and Turiddu) in Barcelona and Valencia. In ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Newcastle upon Tyne, Jan 7, 1908; d South Africa, May 1988). South African bass of English birth . He studied in Dresden, making his début in 1931 at Leipzig as Monterone (Rigoletto), later singing King Henry (Lohengrin), Osmin, Sarastro, Philip II and many Wagner roles. He appeared at Munich, Dresden, Vienna and Berlin, where he spent the war years. At Bayreuth (...

Article

Samha El-Kholy

(b Alexandria, March 17, 1892; d Alexandria, Sept 15, 1923). Egyptian composer and singer. He is the most popular figure in Egyptian music. He had a hard childhood, during which he learnt the Qur'an and religious chants, as well as picking up the current secular songs. For two years he studied Islamic theology at a branch of the Al Azhar mosque, but he then decided to make his career as a singer-composer. He had to sing at modest local cafés, and he attributed his early compositions to a famous composer. Under family pressure he was sometimes forced to take manual jobs, and his early marriage, the first of four, complicated matters. Once, while working as a builder and singing to entertain his fellow workers, he was heard by the Syrian brothers Attalah, who engaged him to sing with their drama troupe on a trip to Syria. During his travels he learnt a great deal about classical Arab vocal forms from the master ‘Uthmān al-Mawṣilī....