A scene that will long settle in the conscience; Muhammad Mounir and Amr Diab together in a “duet” at Abu Bakr Salem Theater in Riyadh, under the umbrella of musician Hani Shenouda. Meeting giants of the same generation always becomes a dream that is difficult to implement, but the impossible a few days ago became possible.
How we dreamed of a duet that brought together Umm Kulthum and Muhammad Abdel Wahhab in one artwork in front of the cinema camera. Popular taste always seeks to fly with an imagination that goes beyond the limits of what is available on earth to reach for the sky, and thus hope is renewed in the meeting between the giants, but there are always fierce material and other literary obstacles that are no less fierce, preventing the completion of the meeting.
The pioneer of the Egyptian economy, Talaat Pasha Harb, tried to persuade the two leaders, Umm Kulthum and Abdel Wahhab, to present a joint musical film, along the lines of “Romeo and Juliet” or “Qais and Lily.” The attempt began at the end of the thirties with the launch of his project “Studio Misr”. Everything was agreed upon, even those details that often spoil meetings between adults, such as “tartars” and “pictures”, and who precedes the other. Abdel-Wahhab did not have the slightest sensitivity that the name Umm Kulthum preceded him, he only stipulated that he compose all the songs that permeate the film. Umm Kulthum said: The “duet” shared between us is composed by Abdel-Wahhab and we sing it together, except that she stipulated in her songs that Abdel-Wahhab not be alone in composing all of them, participating in Zakaria Ahmed, Muhammad Al-Qasabji, and Riyad Al-Sunbati, which was completely rejected by Abdel-Wahhab.
The real reason, which Umm Kulthum did not explicitly mention, was her apprehension of Abd al-Wahhab. I thought that he would seize the sweet musical sentence, and give it the less sweet and sweet, so that his songs, which he repeats with his voice, would succeed at the expense of her songs.
I see it as a kind of “phobia” or exaggerated fear. Abdel-Wahhab, the musician, will not favor Abdel-Wahhab, the singer, at the expense of singer Umm Kulthum. Its principle is to present the most beautiful melodies; Whether he repeated it with his own voice or with the voice of others.
The language of speech was disrupted, and all attempts to bring together “the six” and “the musician of the generations” failed, and I imagine that both of them regretted after that.
The Entertainment Authority, which cleverly captured the deep desire within singing lovers in our Arab world, was able to make them watch the two summits together in a meeting that will remain in the memory of music history, on that evening that started on March 8th, and I was a witness to it. And so they sang together the song “My Beloved Mother,” accompanied by Hani Shenouda playing the piano. History here will stop at that exceptional night that brought together the two summits.
Is it the material potential that is being monitored? I consider it a kind of laziness in interpretation. There are similar ideas that were marketed without any financial compensation, such as the water bottles topped by Hani Shenouda’s pictures. How much did they cost? Nothing, while if the question is how much is it worth in the heart of Hani and his lovers, we will discover that it exceeds the account of millions.
At the ceremony, Amr Diab made sure that this message reached people, when he said on the air: “I am thirsty.” Then he pointed to Hani Shenouda to see his picture on the bottle, to make his heart and our hearts happy with this honor, and with that evening that I see as exceptional and unprecedented.
I’m sure the Entertainment Authority still has a lot to fly out of the box. What we witnessed was not just a successful ceremony in terms of numbers or feelings, but a ceremony capable of breaking through the barrier of time.
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