Majida El Roumi (Arabic: ماجدة الرومي, also transliterated as Magida el Roumi) was born in Kfarshima, Lebanon on December 13, 1956. She is a Lebanese singer and a soprano who started her musical career in the early 1970s when she participated in the talent show, Studio El Fan on Télé Liban and won the gold medal for best female singer. Since her appearance on television at the age of 16, she has become one of the most successful and respected singers of the Arab world as well as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. Read more on Last.fm
Majida El Roumi (Arabic: ماجدة الرومي, also transliterated as Magida el Roumi) was born in Kfarshima, Lebanon on December 13, 1956. She is a Lebanese singer and a soprano who started her musical career in the early 1970s when she participated in the talent show, Studio El Fan on Télé Liban and won the gold medal for best female singer. Since her appearance on television at the age of 16, she has become one of the most successful and respected singers of the Arab world as well as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.
Majida El Roumi was born to renowned musician Halim El Roumi and wife Marie Loutfi who were a Melkite Greek Catholic couple from Tyre, a city in South Lebanon.Originally, Halim El Roumi is from Lebanon but during his early years he moved to Palestine to work. He also studied in Egypt.
Halim el Roumi became a renowned musician and continued to live in Kfarshima, which was home to many Lebanese singers, musicians, poets and writers, like the late Philemon Wehbi, Melhem Barakat and Issam Rajji. The residence of Halim el Roumi in Kfarshima was a meeting place for many cultural figures. Growing up in such an artistic environment, Majida's interest in music started to show at an early age when she used to listen to the works of the prominent figures of that time, such as Fairuz, Umm Kulthoum, Abdel Wahab, Wadi AlSafi, and Asmahan. Her singing and beautiful voice attracted the attention of her family and neighbors.
One of the early songs she used to sing (and which was actually saved on record) was a religious song called "Your Birth" or Miladak in reference to the birth of Jesus Christ.
Raymond Safadi, Majida's cousin, was fascinated with her voice and thought that she could be very successful if she pursued singing as a profession. However, the big obstacle was her father who knew more than anyone else how difficult it was to work in the music industry. Although the father refused his daughter's participation in Télé Liban's Studio el fan, Majida, with the help of her cousin, Raymond, entered the talent show, singing songs for Asmahan and Leila Mourad, like Ya Toyour, Ana Albi Dalili, and Layali El Ouns Fi Vienna. The jury was impressed with her performance and her beautiful voice and awarded her the gold medal.
Halim El Roumi gave Majida his blessings to pursue singing as a profession as long as she continued her higher education.
Despite the war in Lebanon in 1975, Majida obtained her BA in Arabic Literature from the Lebanese University.
On September 17, 1977, Majida got engaged to a businessman from Byblos, Lebanon. Antoine Dfouni became not only her husband but also her manager. They had two daughters: Hala and Nour. Majida and Antoine later divorced in 2006.
Majida lost her sister, Maha, to cancer.
Before her death, she flew to her sister who was hospitalized in the United States and stayed with her for days. When she had to come back for a concert in Cairo, Majida dedicated a song to Maha, wishing a miracle would take place to heal her. When Maha died, Majida recited a poem she wrote at her funeral in a church in Kfarshima. Her sister's death lead her to produce several religious albums and held several religious concerts.
She would later release a special song dedicated to Maha.
In 2007 the Egyptian singer Tony Kaldas wrote a song dedicated to her, set to the Italian melody "Love in Portofino". The song was called Negma Men Nogoum El Sama (A Star from the Stars of the Sky), and sung in Arabic and French.
Majida was one of the first modern singers to start combining western classical music with the Arabic classical music (tarab). Kadim Al Sahir, Tarek Aakef, and Dr. Jamal Salama, all of whom Magida has worked with, also subscribe to this school of music.
Her first hit, Am Behlamak Ya Helm Ya Lebnan, written by poet Said Akl and composed by Elias Rahbani offered a first glimpse at her operatic voice. However, the majority of her early 1970s-1980s success was achieved with much more oriental songs. From 1977 to this day, Majida has made sure to sing at least one song composed by her late father on each album she releases, as well as songs about Lebanon and her people.
Majida's self-titled debut album was typical of 1970s Arabic pop, with traditional percussion, a string section, guitar, and keyboard. Her sense of duty towards her country was evident from the beginning, with songs like Nab' El Mahabbeh, and the vast majority of her songs were in the Lebanese Arabic dialect.
The same can be said for her 1980s work, like the joyous Layalina Men Layali El Omr and Ya Saken Afkari. Ya Saken Afkari marked some of her first work in classical or written Arabic, with songs like La Taghdabi and Salawna. Majida also sang a hit rendition of the late Abdel Halim Hafez's El Touba. Never one to depend on record companies, so far Majida has released no more than two albums with each label she signed with.
Musical Maturity (1990s)
In 1991, Majida released Kalimat, her first true pan-Arab hit, under the Music Master label.
The hit title song was written by revered (and controversial) Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, and composed by Ihsan El Mounzer. Qabbani also gave Majida a patriotic song titled Beirut, Set Eddounia, which Dr. Jamal Salama composed. Like Kadim Al Sahir and Latifa, Majida was part of the movement which re-popularized classical Arabic poetry in music.
It was also a marked change of tone for Majida, and her music began to fuse East and West. 1994's Ibhath Anni followed the template set by Kalimat. Majida sang another symbolic song which empowered women, Dr. Souad Al Sabah's Kon Sadiqi, as well as patriotic songs like Oum Etthadda and Saqata Al Qina.
She also sang another Nizar Qabbani poem, titled Ma'a Jarida, which garnered almost as much success as Kalimat. With Dr. Jamal Salama on board, the album felt even more classical, especially with Lan A'oud, Ma'a Jarida, and the signature ballad, Ibhath Anni. However, Majida still maintains an Arabic feel to her music, and you can hear it throughout the album in the percussion, the strings, and even accordion (which Dr.
Salama worked into Ma'a Jarida). The album was the first in which Abdo Monzer, who composed both Ibhath Anni and Kon Sadiqi, and Dr. Salama did all of the musical arrangement.
In 1996, Majida signed with budding Saudi label Rotana and released Resa'al. Like its predecessor Ibhath Anni, the album was dominated by Abdo Monzer and Dr.
Jamal Salama. Elie Choueiri, who had previously only composed patriotic songs like Saqata Al Qina and Koullon Youghanni Ala Lailah" for Majida, wrote the opening song, Samra' El Nile, a song for Egyptian women. Some of the greatest work from Majida's collaboration with Dr. Salama came in this album.
Songs like Shou'oubon Men Al Oushaq (composed by Joseph Khalifa), and Ainaka blurred the line between what was considered classical and Arabic music, while Lawen Ma'i El Iyam employed Majida's operatic skills and Hobbouka evoked songs from Eastern Europe. Elie Choueiri composed two more patriotic songs for this album, the powerful Qana, condemning the Israeli massacres there, and Ma Rah Tekhlass Lehkayeh. Majida's father Halim composed Mimi, written by the Rahbani Brothers, for Majida's daughter.
In 1998, Majida released her ninth official album, Ouhibbouka Wa Ba'd. For the first time, she worked with Saudi poet Al Nasser and composer/singer Dr.
Abdel Rab Idriss, and the duo produced the title song. Egyptian musician Tarek Aakef, arguably the Arab world's biggest arranger in the 1990s, give the song an air of classical music, but injected powerful strings and big Arabic percussion, his area of expertise. Tawq Al Yasmin marked Majida's fourth collaboration with Nizar Qabbani, and her first with Iraqi singer/songwriter Kadim Al Sahir, who had become Qabbani's musical ambassador by then. The heartbreaking song of an ignored lover, arranged by Kadim himself and Khaled Fouad, was perfect for Majida, in the sense it was unmistakably Arabic and yet had the added the grandeur of classical music.
The style of the album also suited Dr. Jamal Salama perfectly, and he composed three songs, the powerful Al Qalb Al Maftouh, dramatic Inta El Madi, and unforgettable Sayedi El Ra'is, which was written in the form of a letter to the President. He also arranged Al Yawm Aada Habibi, a duet with Ghassan Saliba which Halim El Roumi composed. Dr.
Salama's purest classical work with Majida to date was on this album. Al Nasser also wrote Yaqoulou Inni Imra'aton for Majida, and the influence of Nizar Qabbani on the poet is evident in this romantic poem.
After the death of her sister Maha, Majida did not release any "secular" music for close to a decade. In 2003, she released two religious albums titled Cithare Du Ciel and Erhamni Ya Allah. Majida sang a special rendition of the song "Ave Maria", which was the first official recording to show her talent as a soprano.
It proved she was capable of hitting higher notes and still retaining her own vocal character.
The Return of Al Magida (2006-)
2006 marked the returned of Majida to a much-changed Arabic music scene. However, Majida returned with an album that spoke to a younger audience, while still stimulating her faithful older audience. E'tazalt El Gharam (I Have Retired from Love) was released with a video and director Nadine Labaki showed a changed, happier, and young Majida. Majida worked with many new names, like singer/songwriter Marwan Khoury, lyricist Noha Najm, as well as musicians Jean-Marie Riachi and Claude Chalhoub.
The new musicians updated Majida's style while keeping the old-world charm that made her name. Many whom she hadn't worked with in over a decade returned also, like fellow Kfarshima musician Melhem Barakat (who composed the title song), Said Akl, and composer Ihsan El Mounzer. Joseph Khalifa and Kamal Saiqali, who put Gibran's words to music for Majida in Nashid Lel Hob, returned with Said Akl's poem Sawfa Nabqa, an ode to Lebanon. Nashid El Zafaf is a rendition of Mendelssohn's Wedding March with congratulatory lyrics by Noha Najm.
Majida also sang a cover of Lara Fabian's Adagio, and dedicated it to Ahmed Zaki after his passing. Familiar names, like Saudi duo Al Nasser and Dr. Abdel Rab Idriss, as well the late Halim El Roumi and Nizar Qabbani, had songs on the album too. Al Hob Wal Wafa' proved once again the diversity of Dr.
Idriss as a composer, but the ability of a lengthy, song to succeed so greatly in 2006 surprised everyone.
Majida sang a song from her upcoming album at the annual Carthage Festival in Tunisia, titled Ma Rah Ez'al A Shi.
In 1976, Majida starred in Youssef Chahine movie Awdat Al Ibn Al Dal (The Return of the Prodigal Son) providing also 3 soundtracks for the movie. Chahine introduced her as 'the Voice of the 20th Century' and received the 'Egyptian Critics Award'.
Majida has performed at various festivals throughout the Arab world such as festivals of Beiteddine, Jerash, Bosra and Carthage as well as the Cairo Opera House.
Majida takes a firm stand opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories and Israeli human rights violations. During her concert in Beirut on April 15, 2002, She said, "What is going now in Palestine is a crime against humanity, and I am here to say a final 'No!' to the Israeli occupation. To the Palestinians, I say, our hearts are with you; our souls are with you; justice is with you, and the land will always be yours." She also released the song, "Qana" , Anakid Al- Ghadab April 1996,as a form of protest against the massacre that the Israelis committed in the town of Qana in southern Lebanon.
Majida performed "Light The Way," a duet with the international opera star, José Carreras, on December 9, 2006 during the opening ceremony of the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006.
Majida El Roumi is currently working on her international career with entertainment firm, The Agency and Me, based in Europe and the Middle East.
The strategy includes international duets, a new English language classical/contemporary album and a world class 'Broadway' style production, to be Directed and Produced by an Award winning international team from Los Angeles, New York, London and Sofia. With her last album and new material soon to be released, Majida El Roumi is crossing borders with her fresh contemporary style of music, appealing to a greater international audience.
In more than three decades, Majida El Roumi has become a symbol and an idol for global audiences.On December 9, 2007 Majida El Roumi gave a heart-wrenching speech to Lebanese political leaders at a memorial for Lebanese politican Gebran Tueni.
Majida El Roumi (1977). Live Recordings (1982). And the Children (1983).
Dawi Ya Amar (1987). Ya Saken Afkari (1988). Kalimat (1991). Ibhath Anni (1994).
Rasa'el (1996). Ouhibbouka Wa Baad (1998). Cithare Du Ciel (Qitharat Al Sama') (2003). Erhamni Ya Allah (2003).
E'tazalt El Gharam (2006). UN Ambassador
Majida El Roumi was appointed an ambassador for the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on World Food Day, October 16, 2001 in an official ceremony in Rome, Italy. She has participated in numerous round-table discussion on the role of FAO ambassadors in helping the Organization combat world hunger. As FAO ambassador, Majida inaugurated the First Annual Agricultural Week in Lebanon and dedicated the book prepared by FAO Sanabel El Kheir on 8 November 2005 during an official ceremony to celebrate World Food Day 60th Anniversary at the UNESCO Palace in Beirut.
Tributes and Awards
National Order of the Cedar (Knight), Lebanon, 1994.
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