July 14, 2019, marks the 75th anniversary of Asmahan’s passing. The birth name for Asmahan was Amal Al-Atrash. Asmahan was the sister of singer and composer Farid Al-Atrash. She was a singer and an actress. She acted in two films Intissar Al-Shabab (Triumph of the Youth) and
Gharam wa Intiqam (Love and Revenge).
I discovered Asmahan’s music when I found a CD of some of her best hits, including Layali Al-Ouns (Sources say Nights of Merriment) and Emta Hata’aref (When Will You Know). I learned more about the late singer through an Arabic TV Series telling her life story. I enjoy listening to that CD very much.
Her musical style was Tarab (Classical Arabic music). Her songs also had the music of Italian classics. When Asmahan performed, it was with a big band, either at the studio or a concert. She was a teenager when her career started, after being discovered by a guest at the Al-Attrash household. Her first major hit was Ya Nar Fouadi (An Intense Heat). Later on, other classics marked Asmahan’s career such as Layali Al-Ouns, Emta Hata’aref (When Will You Know), Yalli Hawak (Because of Your Love), Ahwa (To Love), and more! Besides working with her brother Farid Al-Atrash, Asmahan also collaborated with composers Dawood Hosni, Mohamed El Qasabgi, and Zakariyya Ahmad. The music for Asmahan’s songs had the incredible Tarab sound.
Asmahan’s had an incredible vocal range, which included contralto and mezzo-soprano, as well as other classical western techniques, according to sources. She could alternate between western and Traditional Arabic music styles — that included the nasal and chest resonance. Asmahan used the method of the head register to create a controlled tone in her voice. She had a vocal style that was distinct, rich, and unique as well as full of emotion and soul. She could also sing with power, as well as agility.
My favourite songs for Asmahan are the following Layali Al-Ouns, Emta Hata’aref, Yalli Hawak, Ahwa, and Al-Ward (The Rose).
On a side note:
The song Ahwa is a play on words. While the two words sound alike, they’re not the same. One word means to love, and the other means coffee.
Asmahan leaves behind a lovely musical legacy. To honour the late singer, here are some of her classic hits.
The translation of the Arabic songs is based on my understanding of the language.