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Lisa A. Urkevich

[Muḥammed ‘Abdu ‘Othmān Marzuq al-Dehel al-‘Asīrī]

(b Jizan, Saudi Arabia, 1949). Saudi singer, composer and ‘ūd (lute) player. His father was a well-known sailor who died when Muḥammed was two years old. Muḥammed began singing at the age of six, and at nine he received his first vocal training through the study of Qur'anic recitation, which, along with the call to prayer (adhān), he offered at school events. About the age of 13 he became involved with amateur traditional singers and learnt to play the ‘ūd. Because of his close proximity to Yemen, he encountered master musicians of the al-yamānī style. He gained a diploma in shipbuilding and was offered a scholarship to study in Japan, but declined the offer, preferring to become a professional musician. His first recognized composition was Hala yā bū sha'ar tha'ir (1965). He went on to record over 80 albums in a variety of styles, including popular Egyptian styles, but he has been most appreciated for his folkloric, traditional Saudi and Gulf pieces. He gained an international reputation and has often been called ‘...

Article

Michael Ethen

(Guy)

(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.

Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...

Article

Natan Shahar

(b Yekatrinoslav [now Dnepropetrovsk], Dec 5, 1894; d Tel-Aviv, April 2, 1982). Israeli composer and singer. He emigrated to Palestine from the Ukraine in 1906. He studied at the Teacher's Seminary in Jerusalem where his teachers included Abraham Zvi Idelsohn. During World War I he moved to Egypt and enlisted in the British Army. After the war he returned to Palestine and, while earning his living as an accountant, took singing lessons with Jehuda Har-Melaḥ. A countertenor with a phenomenal ability to improvise, he travelled to the USA in 1923 to further his singing studies; there he specialized in improvisation and distinctive vibrato singing, similar in style to Arab-Bedouin singing or ululation. Commissioned to write an orchestral accompaniment for songs improvised in a Bedouin style, he enlisted the compositional assistance of Lazar Seminski, who encouraged him to continue to compose. His first songs, Ya leil (‘Oh night’) and ...

Article

Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof

(b Muar, Johor, Malaysia, June 12, 1941). Malaysian singer and lute player. He became interested in music at an early age, as a result of watching bangsawan (Malay opera) performances; his father, a musician, was important in nurturing this interest. At the age of 18 he joined the Setia Ghazal Party in his home town (the principal centre of the syncretic vocal genre ghazal in Malaysia) as a singer and musician; he later joined the well-known Seri Maharani Ghazal, becoming famous as a gambus (short-necked lute) player (the lead instrument in ghazal ensembles) and featuring on Seri Maharani Ghazal's many recordings.

He has visited around 40 countries, often giving solo performances, but principally as a member of exchange troupes through the Malaysian Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, which he joined in 1976. Shortly after joining this organization, he worked as a gambus teacher at Kompleks Budaya Negara (National Cultural Complex), where he continued until his retirement. He continues to work part-time at the Akademi Seni Kebangsaan (National Arts Academy). In addition to being a highly successful ...

Article

Amelia Maciszewski

[Faizabadi, Akhtari Bai]

(b Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, 1911–14; d Lucknow, 1974/5). North Indian vocalist. She was hailed as a child prodigy by Gauhar Jan, who heard her sing at her school in about 1919. Akhtari's mother then took her to study classical vocal music with Ustad Zamir Khan of Gaya, Bihar. Akhtari made her début as a vocalist at a charity concert in Patna. Subsequently she moved to Calcutta and underwent arduous classical vocal training as a disciple of Ustad Ata Hussein Khan of the Patiala gharānā. She made her first commercial recording in 1933, the ghazal Dīvāna banāna hāi to, in which she sang to the accompaniment of sāraṅgī, tablā and harmonium. She also acted in a few musical films, notably Roṭi, and spent some time at the court of the Nawab of Rampur. Later she settled in Lucknow, regularly performing both publicly and in private soirées and often travelling to Calcutta to perform at music conferences....

Article

Eckhard Neubauer

(b Baghdad, July 779; d Samarra’, July 839). Arab musician. He was a son of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdī and a Persian slave at court called Shikla. He became famous for his fine and powerful voice with its range of four octaves, and first took part in court concerts during the reigns of Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) and al-Amīn (809–13). Proclaimed caliph in 817 in opposition to al-Ma’mūn (813–33), he had to abdicate after barely two years and went into hiding. In 825 he was pardoned and became a court musician once more under al-Ma’mūn and his successor al-Mu‘taṣim (833–42). He was a follower of the school of Ibn Jāmi‘ and represented a ‘soft’ style, probably influenced by Persian music, which also allowed freedom in rendering older works. His rival Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī accused him of stylistic uncertainty; fragments of their polemic writings are quoted in the Kitāb al-aghānī al-kabīr...

Article

(b Hartford, ct , March 1, 1927). American soprano of Armenian descent. She studied at San Francisco, where she sang in the opera chorus (1945–6). At the Metropolitan she made her début (1950) as the Heavenly Voice (Don Carlos). By her 25th anniversary performance there, as Micaela, she had sung 41 roles in 35 operas, with regular appearances as Leonora (...

Article

(b Toḥayta, Tihama, South Arabia, c1892; d Ṣan‘ā, 1965). Yemeni singer and lutenist. He began singing while in Zabid, accompanying himself on a copper plate. He studied the qanbūs (lute) with Muḥammad Sha'bān and Muḥammad al-‘Attāb, both of whom he met in Ethiopia where they had taken refuge from the puritanism of Imām Yaḥyā. Al-‘Antarī’s life story is surrounded by legends, and it is also said that he met al-‘Attāb in Ṣan‘a and became his servant. Listening to al-‘Attāb, al-‘Antarī practised singing secretly until his master overheard him, recognized his talent and ordered him to sing to his guests. At the end of the 1930s al-‘Antarī recorded 25 songs for the Odeon company in Aden, and his subsequent career included numerous radio broadcasts and performances at weddings. He had an exceptional voice and was an accomplished lute player; he excelled in both the classical repertory of Ṣan‘ā (...

Article

Abdel-Hamid Hamam

(b Jan 17, 1929). Jordanian traditional composer, singer and buzuq player of Palestinian Gypsy origin. At an early age he joined a group of Gypsy musicians as a singer and player of the ‘ūd (short-necked lute) and the buzuq (long-necked lute), and performed at weddings and other celebrations in Jerusalem and the neighbouring villages. He began to learn religious chants and Qur’anic recitation at the age of nine. In 1949 he joined the choir of the broadcasting service in Ramallah, and in 1959 he joined the music section of the newly established radio station in Amman. In 1963 he was appointed leader of the radio station’s music ensemble; he held this position for several years, during which he performed many of his songs and also had the opportunity to join a group of researchers making a field survey of folk heritage including Jordanian folk singing and music in an area covering both banks of the river Jordan. As a ...

Article

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.

Staying in Cairo with her mother, she made singing her profession. She sang compositions by her brother, Farīd al- Aṭrash, and later co-starred in his film Intiṣār al-shabāb (‘Triumph of youth’). The greatest composers wrote for her: Midhat Assem, Zakariyyā Aḥmad, Muḥammad al-Qasabjī and Riyāḍ al-Sunbaṭī. She sang in Muḥammed ‘Abd al-Wahhāb's film ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Tilfis, Georgia). American baritone of Georgian birth. He is considered one of the world’s leading interpreters of Puccini and Verdi’s music. He made his debut in 1989 as Renato in Verdi’s Un Ballo in maschera at the Tilfis National Theater. In the following three years, Ataneli received several major awards, including first prize and the Grand Prix at the International Francisco-Vinas Competition in Barcelona (1991), and first prize at the “I Cestelli” Competition. He has appeared across the world, including with the Vienna State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Hamburg State Opera, and the Bavarian State Opera. His relationship with the Metropolitan Opera blossomed in the 21st century, as Tonio in I Pagliacci in 2006, Macbeth (under the direction of James Levine) in 2007–8, and Rigoletto in 2010. He also has been active as a performer in concert and on television and radio. His tremendously powerful voice has engaged audiences worldwide, and his skill is featured on numerous recordings and DVD releases....

Article

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 ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.

In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....

Article

Kazunori Sugiyama

(b Osaka, Japan, Sept 10, 1957). Japanese singer. She learned piano from the age of three, studied singing when she was 17, and in her youth undertook some work as a piano accompanist. After graduating from high school she lived alternately in Kobe, Japan, and Los Angeles. She then went to New York, where she sang from 1986 to 1991 as a member of the gospel choir of the Tabernacle Church in Harlem. In 1991 she returned to Japan and performed with the trio led by the pianist Hiroshi Minami in 1992 and Mikio Masuda’s trio in 1998. Among her recordings is an album (1996) on which she was accompanied by a quartet comprising the guitarist Satoshi Inoue, Junior Mance, Calvin Hill, and Akira Tana. Ayado was employed as a dietician until 1998 and then decided to work exclusively as a professional musician. Since then she has become one of the most successful jazz singers in Japan. She teaches gospel-style choirs in several Japanese cities and also plays piano and organ....

Article

Alma Kunanbayeva

(b Maty-Bulak, Semirechye [now Krasnogorsk], 1884; d Almata, 1976). Kazakh traditional composer, singer, narrator and dömbra player. He was born to the family of a poor herder and lost his mother when he was seven years old. His family was musically talented and Azerbayev gained the nickname Bala-aqyn (‘Child-singer’) early in his life. At the age of ten or 11 he wrote the songs Ri qoyïm (‘Shoo, my Sheep’, a shepherds' cry) and Boz torgai (‘Sparrow’), which revealed his outstanding talent and became widely popular. Kazakh and Kyrgyz musicians often met in the region of Semirechye, and Azerbayev became famous as a performer of Kyrgyz songs and the Manas epic as well as the Kazakh traditional repertory; his songs also became popular in Kyrgyzstan. More than 200 of his works were recorded by the folklorists B. Erzakovich and A. Serikbayeva. Azerbayev's songs are stylistically linked with aqyn genres of recitation in their melodic construction, which follow the rhythm and meaning of the verse. He composed many songs in response to important events in Kazakhstan; songs such as ...

Article

[Aznavourian, Varenagh]

(b Paris, May 22, 1924). French singer and songwriter. His parents were Armenian immigrants, and he began acting as a child. In 1941 he wrote the lyrics to the song J'ai bu, with music by Pierre Roche, and which brought the songwriting team to the attention of Edith Piaf. Aznavour subsequently wrote songs for Piaf (Il pleut, 1949), Gilbert Bécaud (Donne-moi, 1952) and Juliette Greco (Je hais les dimanches, 1950). As a singer, he toured with Piaf, but major success only came with Sur ma vie (1955). Such reflective and romantic songs as The Old-Fashioned Way and She (1974) brought him international acclaim, while numbers such as Hier encore (translated as Yesterday when I was Young) typify his introspective and melancholic style. His operetta, Monsieur Carnaval, was performed in Paris in 1965, and his film appearances include François Truffaut's ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Osaka, Dec 11, 1939). Japanese soprano . She studied in Tokyo, then in Milan and Parma, making her début in 1963 at Reggio Emilia as Suzel (L’amico Fritz). She sang at La Scala and elsewhere in Italy; in France, Belgium, Germany and Austria; in North and South America and with Fujiwara Opera in Tokyo. She took part in the première of Joachim Ludwig’s ...

Article

(b Palestine, TX, Jan 21, 1902; d Fort Worth, May 2, 1984). American singer and bandleader. He led his own band in Dallas (c1925) and toured Texas, then briefly led the Wolverines. In 1928 he worked as a banjoist in New York, but from 1929 he specialized as a singer. He made a large number of recordings as a leader (1929–31, 1934), as well as with such musicians as the Dorsey Brothers (1928–9), Irving Mills, the Goofus Five, and Ben Pollack (all 1929), the California Ramblers, Joe Venuti, and Frankie Trumbauer (all 1929–30), the violinist Ben Selvin (1929–31), Duke Ellington (1930, notably Nine Little Miles from Ten-Ten-Tennessee, Vic. 22586), and Red Nichols and Benny Goodman (both 1931). During the early 1930s his band held many residencies in New York, and Ballew also led an all-star group which included Bunny Berigan and Glenn Miller. Later he appeared in many films....

Article

Hormoz Farhat

(b Tehran, 1911; d Tehran, 1986). Persian singer. He came from an aristocratic background and was raised in a family circle frequented by literati and musicians. His father played the tār and his mother the piano; Banān learnt the rudiments of both instruments in childhood. He had voice lessons from his early teen years and by his mid-20s he had established a high reputation as a singer with a marked command of the radif and a sound knowledge of the Persian classical poetry on which Persian vocal music heavily relies.

In the 1930s Banān was drawn into the circle of progressive musicians led by Ali Naqi Vaziri, becoming closely associated with two of Vaziri’s leading disciples, Ruhollāh Khāleqi and Abolhasan Sabā. He participated in concerts organized by the Vaziri group as the lead singer, specializing in performances of new tasnif compositions. His fame spread after his radio engagements began in ...

Article

Kate Stevens

(b Beijing, Nov 18, 1869; d Beijing, Oct 8, 1942). Chinese narrative singer. He was the creator of jingyun dagu (‘Beijing drumsong’) and its Liu style. The son of an itinerant narrative singer from Hejian county south of Beijing, Liu by the age of seven was playing sanxian lute accompaniment for his father. He later accompanied and studied with leading drumsingers such as Song Wu, Hu Shi and Huo Mingliang. By the age of 30 he was established in Beijing, turning countryside drumsong into a sophisticated urban art. He now sang in Beijing speech, and created new and expanded melodies to depict the particular characters and mood of each tale. His sanxian accompanists, and a drumsong aficionado who wrote and revised texts, were vital collaborators, and his lifelong association with Beijing opera and its singers a constant inspiration.

His repertory of 22 pieces, mostly tales of strategy and war, loyalty and valour, drew audiences back time and again; favourites included ...

Article

Bonnie C. Wade and Inderjit N. Kaur

(b Miraj, 1905; d 1989). North Indian (Hindustani) classical music vocalist. She was the daughter of Abdul Karim Khan of the Kirana gharānā and studied with her father’s cousin, Abdul Wahid Khan. Her first important opportunity as a vocalist came when Vishnu Digambar Paluskar invited her to sing in public in 1922. After the Maharashtrian revival of theatre broke the ban on women appearing on the professional stage in that region, Barodekar performed in plays with mixed casts. When live theatre waned in the face of the new film industry, she joined artists who were introducing art music to the non-court world in North India.

Barodekar enjoyed a long and successful career as concert singer, regional theatre singer/actress, broadcasting artist and recording artist. She had a large number of releases with major labels, including HMV, Odeon, and Columbia. Barodekar was the first female musician to be invited to the prestigious Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan in ...