'Who are the princesses of Arabic song? If they had to name ten, twenty, fifty of them, no two connoisseurs would agree. But if there were a choice of only three names, they would be those of Oum Kalsoum, Fairouz and Asmahan. Princesses, queens, empresses, whatever. These three hold court above all the categories: glory, power, legend, splendour...
Dorsaf Hamdani sings all three of them. And what female Arabic singer has never contemplated measuring herself against the Himalayas of her culture: the immense achievements of Oum Kalsoum, who died in 1975 at the height of her fame? She who made into one a genre both popular and classical. Who had the ability to make soar an enormous ensemble of violins and piano. And who had the power to promptly produce the radiance of a voice more sublime than any other...
Yet Dorsaf has not only approached that monument. She also addresses the repertoire of Fairouz, who knew how to build links with Latin American and international popular music without ever losing the Arab soul of her songs. The greatest Middle Eastern voice of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first – Fairouz began to sing professionaly in 1957 – the Lebanese singer has ventured into much formal audacity without losing the sense of the primary emotion of a song. Perhaps Fairouz was inspired at the beginning by the equally deeply moving voice and repertoire of her compatriot Asmahan, who died in 1944 at the age of twenty-six. The sister of composer Farid El-Atrache, Asmahan had the time to give the Arab world recordings which were of a singularly modern melancholy, combining traditional poetic values with Western music.
Dorsaf thus sings three legacies: the sophistication and virtuosity of Oum Kalsoum, the distinct vocal timbre and revolutionary tastes of Fairouz, and Asmahan's emotional depth and natural affinity for drama...
Since discovering music, Dorsaf has always looked beyond the splendours of Tunisia's classical tradition, always listened out for the music of the East. During her childhood, on Thursday nights, her father tuned in the radio for the Oum Kalsoum concert. And at family gatherings, her grandmother went back to the great classics of the Egyptian diva but also the best sellers of Asmahan, the sublime Lebanese singer whose fate might have come out of a novel. Very young, Dorsaf also succumbed to the more contemporary charms of the great Fairouz.
Naturally, to become a singer was for her not only to achieve mastery of the Tunisian malouf (traditional Arab Andalusian music) but also become the interpreter of those large repertoires shared by all the Middle East. Not for her solely the role of interpreter of Tunisian music. This requires boldness as much as humility – to keep in sight the peaks of the ideal, while serenely conquering each step that leads to them without cutting corners...
Dorsaf has therefore gradually polished her voice, in malouf music as well as the semi-classical genres which came into being in Egypt and the Middle East in the twentieth century. She learned Western music theory and attempted more or less world fusion experiments. She has earned awards and prizes at home and abroad... Above all, she has travelled, from master classes to encounters with teachers, from festivals to post-graduate studies at the Sorbonne. She sings at Cairo Opera House and collaborates with the greatest maestros of Arab music including Salah Ghoubachi and Selim Sahab. In 2010, she participates, along with the Iranian singer Alireza Ghorbani, in the creation of Ivresses, which centres around the poetry of Omar Khayyam – another great critical and public success.
Since her debut in 1995, she has continuously ventured into reciprocations and contacts to enrich her practice and connections, “In straying away from my country,” she explains, “I defined what is my culture. I understood where I come from and what I desire. I am Tunisian, but not only.” She also defines herself by the past: “
07/11/2015 - Institut des Cultures d'Islam - Paris (75) - France
07/20/2015 - Musée Calvet - Avignon - France
07/30/2015 - Festival Au Fil Des Voix - Vaison-La-Romaine - France
08/08/2015 - Eglise Saint-Hilaire - Poitiers - France
09/20/2015 - Musée du Quai Branly - Paris - France