Warda Al-Jazairia


Warda Mohammed Ftouki

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1940 -






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Biography: Warda Al-Jazairia

She was born near Paris in Puteaux in July 1940. The youngest of five children. Her father, Mohammed Ftouki was one of the first Algerian immigrants to France, ran a hostel for migrant workers at Boulogne-Billancourt then became the owner of an Arabic music cabaret in the Quartier Latin called the Tam-Tam (named after the three initials of the three Maghreb countries, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco). She used to sneak out of her room every night and hide in one of the corners for two or three hours to listen to the band while they were playing or rehearsing in her father's night club below and then she would sing for her self the next morning.

In those days Warda was unable to write any Arabic, she always had to ask her older brother to write out all her Arabic songs in the Latin alphabet. From time to time Warda's father was tolerant enough to allow his daughter's brief appearance on a stage of his club at the request of a friend.

Warda's mother was a Lebanese born in Beirut in a Moslem family of good social position. She had taught Warda every Lebanese song of some importance. Thus the girl's liking for the Middle Eastern song had developed.

She was only a little girl when she would sing songs by Abdelwahab or Farid Elatrash. Ahmad Tejani, a friend of Warda's father, was working for a famous record company, Pathè Marconi-EMI (now EMI France), which used to produce children's programs for North African Arabs in France on the Paris radio station. During one of his visits to the TAM TAM club he heard her singing and liked her voice so much that, shortly after, he presented her to the radio and she participated in the show with a song called "Song for the Mother".

In 1958, as Paris was more and more concerned by the development of the Algerian War of Independence, the whole family had to seek refuge in Beirut where she went on singing militant songs. The whole family lived in a small apartment in Al Hamra Street in Beirut. When Warda started singing in Tanyos, a famous night club in Aley, she was only 17 and her national songs were hardly the style for night clubs.

On one of the nights when she was performing Mohamed Abdul Wahab was among the audience. At the end of her performance he approached her and proposed that he compose for her, such a proposal she could not refuse. He was to become, throughout her career, her "godfather".

His extremely demanding, almost tyrannical, working methods would change her forever. For the "Oustaz" (The Master) the only price of glory was hard work and dedication, and this was a challenge for Warda for she had to learn how to write Arabic and to erase her Algerian accent.

In 1959, in Syria, the great composer, Riad al Soumbati heard her performing a nationalistic song called "Koulouna Jamila" during Damascus Festival and was seduced by her voice. He decided to invite her to Cairo where he was to compose many songs for her among them "Loubat el Ayyam" and "Nida el Dhamir".

When she arrived in Cairo in 1960, Riad Sombati was willing to help her: he set two music poems by an Egyptian poet: "Ya huria ana bendahlek" (I am calling you, O Liberty), "Dalia Djamila", in honor of Palestine, and he also composed the musical part of a play "Alikhwa thalata Deir Yassine" (The three brothers from Deir Yassin).

In 1961/1962 the Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser asked that she participate, as the representative of Algeria, in a song for the Arab world called "Al Watan Al Akbar". This song was composed by Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Warda had the chance to appear alongside other famous singers such as Abdel Halim Hafez, Sabah, Fayza Ahmed, Najat al Sagheera and Shadya.

The film director Helmy Rafla heard Warda and put her forward for a major role in his film "Almaz Wa Abdu Al Hamoly". For this film both Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Farid el Atrache were to compose her songs.

In 1962, Algeria became independent. In 1963, she flew there for the first time to marry a former high ranking officer in the National Liberation Army (ALN) she had met during her stay in Lebanon. Her husband asked her to give up singing to look after her family - which she did for ten years but was very, her career seemed to be definitively over.

But in 1972, Houari Boumedienne, the President of Algeria, asked her to participate in the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Independence. She agreed, with the result that her marriage broke down.

ElMassia Egyptian orchestra was sent to accompany her singing her comeback song: "Ad'uka ya amali", a poem by the Algerian poet Salah Kharfi, music by Baligh Hamdi.

In December of the same year she left for Cairo where she became very rapidly one of the most famous Arab singers with "Elûyûn essûd", "Khallik Nena" and other songs in the same vein composed by Baligh Hamdi, whom she had just married.

She began working with the most famous composers of the time, Riad al Soumbati, Baligh Hamdi (whom she was later to marry and who was to compose so many of her successful songs during ten years), Kamal al Tawel, Said Mekkawi and of course, the "Oustaz" Mohamed Abdel Wahab.

She played a part in two films: "Sût elhob" (The voice of love) and "Hikaiti maa ezzaman" (My fate and me), in which she sang works by M. Abdelwahab, Kamal El Tawil, Mohammed Elmûgui and by her husband Baligh Hamdi.

In recent years she has worked particularly closely with the composer Salah el Sharnoubi, the lyricist Omar Batiesha, the musician Tarek Akef and producer Mohsen Gaber (Alam El Fan), an association which led to three of her albums receiving the award of "Best Album of the Year" in 1991, 1992 and 1994.

Warda al Jazairia - The Rose of Algeria - has always brought joy and pleasure, through her art, talent and magical voice, to her many fans and admirers across the Arab world and globally through more than 300 carefully chosen songs and with concerts booked all over the world.

Contributed by: Mohamed El-Nadi



 Adda Rabi' El Omr
 Aghani Adima
 Aghani Film Hikaiti Maa Al Zaman
 Aghani Film Sawt El Hob
 Ahi Gat Keda
 Ala Aini
 Ala Bakhtina
 Albi Sa'ed
 Ana Leya Men Gherak
 Aoukati Be Tehlaou
 Awraq El Ward
 Ayza Mo'giza
 Batwanese Beek
 Best Of Warda
 Chansons D'amour
 Concert At The Olympiad- Paris - Vol. 2
 Egypt: Warda
 Ehdonou El Ayyam
 Ergah Lehayatak
 Fein Ayamak
 Kelmet Itab
 Khaleek Hina
 Khalik Ma'aya
 La Mosh Keda
 La Towadda'ni Habibi
 Law Muhtagli
 Layaly El-Ghurba
 Lebanon / Algeria
 Love Songs
 Ma Endakch Fekra
 Men Kol Bostan Warda
 Qalbi Sa'eed
 Rouhy Wa Rouhak
 Sho'oury Nahyitak
 Warda A L'olympia Vol. II
 Warda Eldjazairia A L'olympia
 Warda Eldjazairiya Vol. III
 We Law Ennak Be'id Anni
 Ya Habibi La Taqolli
 Aayza Moogueza/Dari Ya Dar1999
 El-Oyoun El-Soud1999
 Ethdounoul Ayam: Live Concert1999
 Harramt Ahebak1999
 Kelmet Itaab/Ou Mali Bass1999
 Law Saalouk - Live1999
 Be Omri Kolo Habeytak2000
 Nagham El Hawa: Best Of2000
 Tabaan Ahbab2000
 All Time Favorites2001
 Nar El Ghera2002
 La Diva2003


 Abl El Naharda
 Andah Alaek
 Aslak Tethab
 Be Omri Kollo Habeytakakdeb Alaik
 Fi Youm Wi Leilah
 Je Vous Donnerai Toute Ma Vie, Mon Amour
 Layali El Ghorba
 Mosh Hatghayyarbawadaak
 Sho'oury Nahyitak
 Yama Layali
 Ergah Lehayatak1999
 Fein Ayamak1999
 Ma Endakch Fekra1999
 Ma Endakch Fekra V.21999
 We Law Ennak Beid Anni1999
 Ya Habibi La Takol Li//Ale Eih Beyess Al1999
 Je Vous Donnerai Toute Ma Vie2001


Compilation Albums

 Bassem & Noura, Oriental Belly Dance
 Various Artists, Asateir ArabiyaVarious Artists, Viva Arabia When The Oriental Moves
 Various Artists, Belly Dance with Warda & Abdel Halim Hafiz
 Various Artists, Bellydance Superstars
 Various Artists, Caf‚ Arabia III
 Various Artists, Ma'a Habibi - From Arabia With LoveVarious Artists, Oriental Classics

Box Sets

 George Wassouf, Sings Warda
 Wadi el-Safi, Ieedak el-Ghali
 Wadi el-Safi & Sabah, Ba'albeck Interantional Festival1960

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