BELLY BEATS: WARDA : THE ROSE OF ALGERIA
This Belly Beats post is inspired by this weeks interview with Kay Kizi’ah (read here!) and this week’s #TBT, Ragaa Youssef (read here!).
Warda’s style was an eclectic mix of “Parisian chic and the more vivacious North African colourings”
FUN FACTS ABOUT WARDA:
Warda Al- Jazairia, born Warda Ftouki, was born July 22, 1939, just outside of Paris. Her mother was Lebanese and her father was Algerian.
Warda had strong political views, taking after her father, a member of the FLN party (the party that eventually led Algeria to freedom).
At the age of 11 she began singing patriotic Algerian songs. She was noticed by French radio producer Ahmed Hachef. He began to play her songs on a radio show geared to North African youth.
Warda’s singing career was short-lived in France, because her father’s cafe called Tam Tam ( the first letters of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), was shut down by French police for harboring armed terrorists, it was also the meeting place for activists.
Her family moved to Beirut after being denied residence in the then French ruled Algeria. Lucky for Warda, Beirut was the place to be outside of Cairo. She began singing in night clubs and was noticed by well known composers for her unique style.
“Her unusual mix of classic Lebanese- Egyptian love songs, more folkloric North African pieces, and odes in praise of the independence fighters, brought her to the attention of powerful figures of Cairene show business, including the great singer and composer Mohamed Abdelwahab.”
Warda was a great supporter of Algerian independence, and her songs reflected that. She was also a proponent of the Pan-Arabic movement (essentially endorsing the unification of Arab Countries – this was a popular movement in the 50s/60s).
She was invited to perform in Cairo by Riad Al Soumbati, a major composer. While in Egypt, Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser invited her to represent Algeria in a major song festival for the Arab world.
In Algeria she met and married her first husband in 1962, who forbade her from singing. She didn’t sing for 10 whole years!
Warda broke her silence when President Boumedienne invited her to sing commemorating Algeria’s 10 years of independence. This marked a change in Warda’s life as she moved forward as a vocalist and left her marriage behind. She moved back to Cairo and met composer Baligh Hamdi who shared Warda’s love of traditional / classical music. They married soon after meeting. She sang to many of his compositions.
Warda recorded her last album in 2001. She passed away in 2012 and was given a state funeral and buried in a cemetery designated for national heroes.