Warda al Jazairia وردة الجزائرية‎

The singer in this clip is Warda and the song is the hugely popular, “Harramt Ahebak” (حرمت أحبك I Give Up (on) Loving You). What do we know about the wonderful voice that belonged to Warda al Jazairia? Warda was born in 1939 in France to Algerian/Lebanese parents and started singing at a very young age. In 1958 her father’s café was closed down by French authorities following a charge of harbouring arms for terrorists and her family moved to Beirut which was her mother’s home town. Warda’s voice soon came to the notice of Mohamed Abdel Wahab and she was invited to come to Cairo. There she came to the attention of Riad Sombati best known for composing songs for Omm Kulthum. The rest, as they say, is history…. ‘Warda’ means ‘rose’, ‘al Jazairia’ means ‘the (f) Algerian’ and one of Warda’s epithets was ‘The Algerian Rose’. Warda was married to composer Baligh Hamdi (1932-1993) for about 10 years. In 1960 Warda was part of the group of famous Arab singers including Shadia, Sabah and Abdel Halim Hafez who sang ‘Al Watan al Akbar’ (الوطن الأكبر‎ The Great Homeland) a pan-Arab song written by Mohamed Abdel Wahab to celebrate the 1958 union of Egypt and Syria into the United Arab Republic. Background: The union of Egypt and Syria only lasted until 1961 when Syria withdrew from the union following a coup in that country. There were other coups in Syria in 1963 and again in 1966. It was the 1966 coup that bought the Assads (père et fil) to power.

Fifi Abdu عبده‎ فيفى

This is Egyptian dancer Fifi Abdu performing during a concert headlined by famous Arabic singer Warda al Jazairia (1939-2012).  This part of Fifi’s performance is folkloric. She wears a red striped galabeya and uses zills (sagat) as well as assaya (cane).

Fifi Abdu (Warda concert)

This is Egyptian dancer Fifi Abdu performing during a concert headlined by famous Arabic singer Warda al Jazairia (1939-2012).
We all know Fifi but what do we know about the wonderful voice that belonged to Warda al Jazaira? She was born in France to Algerian/Lebanese parents and started singing at a very young age. In 1958 her father’s café was closed down by French authorities following a charge of harbouring arms for terrorists and her family moved to Beirut which was her mother’s home town. Warda soon came to the notice of Mohamed Abdel Wahab and she was invited to come to Cairo. There she came to the attention of Riad Sombati best known for composing songs for Omm Kulthum.
Warda al Jazairia وردة الجزائرية means ‘Warda the Algerian’. Her first name ‘Warda’ means ‘rose’ and one of Warda’s epithets was ‘The Algerian Rose’. Warda was married to composer Baligh Hamdi (1932-1993) for about 10 years.

Najwa Sultan and Azza Sharif (1977)

The two dancers in this clip are Najwa Sultan (نجوى سلطان) and Azza Sharif (عزة شريف) in a scene from the 1977 film ‘Ah Ya Leil Ya Zaman’ (آه يا ليل يا زمن).
The singer with the gorgeous voice is the late Warda Al Jazairia who played the leading role in the film.  Adel Adham and Samir Ghanem are the two men sitting on the pink sofa in the clip.
The song in this clip, ‘Leil Ya Layali’ was composed by Baligh Hamdi who was Warda’s second husband.   Warda plays Faten, the daughter of a rich man, who learns on his death that all his assets have been lost and she blames the man who tells her the bad news.  She travels to Paris, finds work as a dental nurse and turns to singing. As a singer, she is (of course) a great success and falls in love with the dentist who’s already married. Long story short, the dentist goes back to his wife and Warda’s character continues with her singing career.

‘The Great Homeland’ (Al Watan al Akbar) الوطن الأكبر‎

The title of this song is  الوطن الأكبر‎ ‘The Great Homeland’ and features singers Abdel Halim Hafez, Sabah, Shadia, Faiza Kamel, Warda and Nagat Al Saghira.  The song lyrics were written by Ahmed Shafiq Kamel and the music composed by Mohamed Abdel Wahab to celebrate the union of Egypt and Syria to form the United Arab Republic. Mohamed Abdel Wahab is also the conductor in this clip.  The union of the two nations began in 1958 and ended when Syria withdrew from the union in 1961.
The full translation of the lyrics below is courtesy of Chris in Istanbul who contributes to the Arabic Music Translation website, shukran Chris. Thank you also to Hani for reminding me to upload this…..sorry it took so long. And a bit of movie trivia: Nagat al Saghira, one of the singers in this clip, and actress Suad Hosni were sisters.
The translation of the song lyrics is as follows:
My country, my beloved
The greatest country
Its triumphs fill its life
Each day its glories grow
My country grows and is liberated
My country, my country

Abdel Halim Hafez:
My country oh angel your love is in my heart
Oh one who called for unity tomorrow
You are great, and much more great
My country, oh country of the Arab people
After you saw the beauty of revolution
From the whole universe, from all immortality

My country
My beloved country

Sabah:
You are sweet, oh glory that fills our hearts
You are sweet, oh unity, oh mosque of our peoples
Oh, infectious melody between the oceans
In Yemen, Damascus and Jeddah
You are sweet, oh victory, oh cup that saw us
You are sweet, oh sweetest melody in our lives
Between Marrakech and Bahrain
The same tune for a perfect unity

The unity of all the Arab people
My country my beloved

Faiza Kamel:
Our nation that we protect
A paradise that pleases he who makes peace
Look at Beirut after the aggression
The strength and power of the people has increased
Candles all around her
And hellfire pours upon her enemies
Where is colonialism and tyranny?
And Port Said’s story harboured enmity

The Arab people have lived and triumphed
My country, my beloved

Shadia:
My country, most precious country in the world
My country that builds with the builders
The voice, your voice is free and Arab
Oh, you whose soil is the makeup of my eye
My country, oh fortress of freedom
And you tear down slavery
No eastern or western echo
Oh, you whose love is perfume that invigorates me

You are my beloved my Arab country
My country my beloved

Warda:
My country, oh revolution against their colonialism
If we all seek martyrdom for you
Colonialism will meet its end at our hands
Not in Algeria or Oman
Fill your isles with fire that destroyed them
The stone of your mountains will combat them
Gone from the world is its time
The revolution will destroy tyranny

Nothing but the triumph of the Arab people
My country my beloved

Najat al Saghira:
My country, oh, paradise that all envy
Oh, you whose canal returned to your hands
Take from the bounty of your dam
Oh, you whose highness is in our worshipping hearts
Of its glories and wonders
And you preserve the good of the world
Make, plant and build with its light
My country whose whole life is sovereign

Country of glory, the Arab country
My country my beloved

Abdel Halim Hafez:
My country who crawls towards its triumphs
In Palestine and our rebelling south
We are a country that protects and does not threaten
Oh, you who lives a life of glory
We will complete your freedoms
We are a country that preserves and does not waste

The country of glory, my Arab country
My country my beloved.