Umm Kolthoum: Star of the Orient


Umm Kolthoum (1904-1975)

– Fatma Ibrahim Al-Beltagy was born on 4 March 1904,in Tamay Al-Zahayra village, Sembellawein, Daqahliya governorate. Her father was the imam of a mosque and her mother was a housewife.

– Umm Kolthoum received her education at her village’s Kuttab (or Quran school), and learned how to sing from her father, who was training her brother in the basics of singing and music.

– Her father’s friends, Zakaria Ahmed and Abul-Ela Mohamed, were instrumental in helping her family move to Cairo in 1922, and introduce them to the city’s art scene. Sheikh Abul-Ela soon after assumed the role of her singing mentor.

– The first song she performed for a live audience, entitled “I sacrifice myself for him whether he keeps our love or wastes it”, was composed by Abul-Ela.

– In 1926 Umm Kolthoum formed her first orchestra, and her fans bestowed upon her the name “Thoma”. She joined the Egyptian National Radio when it was first established in 1934 ̶ the first female artist to do so. In 1943, she formed the first musicians union, of which she remained president for 10 years.

– Umm Kolthoum performed over 700 songs throughout her singing career.

– When Egypt was defeated in 1967, Umm Kolthoum decided to form a national assembly authority, andwent on an international concert tour to aid with the war effort. The tour grossed LE24,000, which she deposited in the Cairo Bank.

A rare voice recording of Baligh Hamdi

– I think Umm Kolthoum broke all traditions when she called on me, a 24-year-old, to hear me play my music.

– Umm Kolthoum faced a serious health problem on 21 January 1975, which landed her in the hospital.

– Umm Kolthoum was capable of singing all voice layers.

She has perfect pronunciation

Her diction and expression are incredibly exquisite.

We can’t find a description for her except that she was talented.

God gave us the gift of her art and we enjoyed it.

Then deprived us from her to sing in heaven.

– Umm Kolthoum passed away on 3 February 1975. On the 5th of that month, Cairo streets were filled with mourners who carried her coffin for three hours, eventually taking it to Al-Hussein Mosque.

– Umm Kolthoum’s songs still live in the hearts of many, and remain bestsellers in the Arab world to this very day.