17 April, 2008

Mohammed Wardi

Mohammed Wardi began singing at the age of five; his first hit was in 1960, and he still has the most extraordinary effect on a Sudanese audience, having come to embody the collective memories and aspirations of an entire nation. Mohammed Wardi sings not only in Arabic but also in his native Nubian - a quite different sound from Ali Hassan Kuban - drawing on 7,000 years of culture.
The soaring voice of "golden throat" Mohammed Wardi has won acclaim right across the African Sahel and the Arab world. Although this singer from Nubia is now in exile, his music always stirs emotion for many Sudanese, sometimes with directly political allusion - to the October 1964 popular uprising, for example - and sometimes more obliquely, but always with powerful resonance. He was born in 1932 near old Wadi Halfa. Schooled across the border in Egypt, he returned as an elementary school teacher, then moved to Khartoum in 1957 and became a professional singer two years later. Four decades and 300 songs later, he can stand on a stage, hand in pocket, the epitome of relaxation, leaving the audience to complete the lines of a song - and make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. He's had spells in jail which only confirmed his popularity; at a human rights demonstration outside the Sudan Embassy, his unaccompanied voice galvanised the spirit of an otherwise sombre gathering. But the most compelling occasion of all must be his 1990 concert at Itang, temporary home to 250,000 war-displaced southern Sudanese in Ethiopia, performing from a makeshift wooden platform in the dusty wastes of a refugee camp. The healing power of music was never more convincingly displayed, and for a while the prospect of reconciliation in this torn country seemed a little less forlorn. More from: Sudan Update
More: Wikipedia, Answers, StaytunedTV, Worldmusiccentral, Global Rhythm, m-huether, National Geographic, New York Times, YouTube

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