Singer Profile: A Moroccan Star Shines in the Arab World
(www.mcm.net; www.bbc.co.uk; Arabstars.net; www.samirasaid.cjb.net)
Born in Rabat, Samira Ben Said began singing at the age of 9. In the 1970s, she dazzled Moroccan television viewers with her talent and ability to perform Umm Kulthoum songs during a TV talent contest called "Mawahib." This appearance established her as one of Morocco's favourite performers.
It wasn't long before legendary singer Abdel Halim Hafez noticed her and advised her to move to Egypt, where, he predicted, she would become very famous. At the age of 17, she moved to Cairo where she immediately started working with leading Egyptian songwriters such as Baligh Hamdi, Sayed Mekawi, Mohammad El Mougi, Hilmi Bakr and Mohammad Sultan.
"Alimnah El Hobb", a song she performed at the Television Nights Festival on Egyptian television in 1983 became a huge hit and established her fame. Two songs that Gamal Salamah composed for her in the 1980s, "Al Gani Ba’d Youmen" and "Mosh Hatnazil Annak Abadan" dominated the charts for a long time.
Listeners throughout the Arab world were impressed with Said's ability to combine the old classical style with elements from rai and western pop. Her recent album, "Yom Wara Yom" (Day After Day), mixes electronic beats with Arabic strings. The title track, "Yom Wara Yom," is a duet with Algerian rai singer Cheb Mami.
Samira Said has more than 500 songs in her repertoire. In 2003, the "Yom Wara Yom" album won the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award. In the same year, she received an award for Best Arab singer at the 2003 World Music Awards in Monaco.
Unlike other singers from her generation, Said did not venture into acting. She now lives between Cairo and Paris with her only son, Chadi, whom she had with her second and current husband. Her latest album, the first in two years, "Qaweeni Beek" (Make Me Strong), recently entered the Arab charts at number one and generated high sales figures in most Arab countries especially Lebanon, Egypt and the UAE.
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