30 March marks the 39th anniversary of the death of iconic Egyptian singer Abdel-Halim Hafez (21 June 1929-30 March 1977).
An icon of romantic songs, Halim’s legacy lives on. Perhaps the secret is in his tone, and a voice that speaks to all types of people, something that placed him on the throne of the music scene for nearly 65 years across his career.
From Al-Ahram’s archives, on 3 April 1977, four days after Abdel-Halim’s death, some of his close friends and colleagues, including musician Reyad El-Sonbaty, composer Baligh Hamdy and novelist Youssef Idris, expressed their mourning over the late singer.
Music composer Riad El-Sonbaty: “What a loss, a candle that was lighting for millions was extinguished.”
Actor Youssef Wahby: “We have lost an important cornerstone in the progress and development of Arabic music. He was a character filled with kindness sincerity and loyalty, and a unique artist.”
Composer Mohamed El-Mougy: “He is my brother, and was very sensitive. For the first time he asked his brother to prepare his grave, as he was getting ready to travel for medical care. This time he was more composed than he usually is when travelling, and he called me from London to tell my daughter that he has to sing at her wedding.”
Composer Baligh Hamdy: “My sadness over Abdel-Halim can’t be expressed in words. We have lived the best of days together.”
Novelist Youssef Idris: “His voice represented an era of revolution and a generation of ambitious youth, that holds in it the beauty of Abdel-Halim and the delicacy of emotions from a difficult childhood. His voice was confined in his dry throat, and overflowed into his chest to drown him. The melodies were trapped in the throat of the nightingale and it dies. When the artist dies, the value of his artwork catapults; when a writer dies, his words become sacred; and when a singer dies, his voice keeps inspiring."
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