FILE - Hafez
CAIRO – 9 April 2019: Late iconic Egyptian singer Abdel-Halim Hafezwill perform a hologram concert on April 19 at Manara Hall in New Cairo along with Lebanese star Carole Samaha.
The concert,titled "Helm" (Dream),will be the first hologram concert to be held in Egypt and the first hologram concert in the world to feature the great Hafez.
Mohamed Shabana, Hafez’s nephew, announced that the organising company, Sky Productions,did not get Hafez’s heirs approval; the company responded saying it is collaborating with Mazzika company, which holds the rights for Hafez's songs.
Hafez, dubbed the Dark-Skinned Nightingale, was one of Egypt’s greatest singers, as well as a producer and an actor.
Born on June 21, 1929 in Halawat village as Abdel Halim Ali Ismail Shabana, Hafez was discovered by Hafez Abdel Wahab, a radio executive,and thustook Abdel Wahab’s first name as his last.
Hafez along with his lifetime friends, the great Egyptian composers Mohammed al-Mougi and Kamalal-Taweel, presented a new and unfamiliar style of music to the audiences.
At the beginning, the audience neither accepted the young singer nor his style, receiving him with boos and revulsion.
After the July 23, 1952 Revolution, the Egyptian audience’s taste changed and Hafez started to builda widerfan base gradually.
Hafez’s fame was strongly attached to the revolution; he sang plenty of patriotic songs that documented it and some called him the “Revolution’s Voice” or the “Son of the Revolution”.
After the revolution,his songs began to gain unprecedented popularity.
The Egyptian cinema did not welcome Hafez at the beginning preferring to borrow only his voice. Yet, in 1955, Hafez debuted as an actor in a movie named “Lahn el-Wafaa” (The Tune of Faithfulness) followed by “Ayamna el-Helwa” (Our Sweet Days) in the same year.
The booming cinematic success Hafez achieved resulted from his success as a singer in the first place. Hafez’s participation in “Our Sweet Days” along with veterans Omar el-Sherif and Ahmed Ramzy established the idea of a younger cinema which prevailed afterwards.
He stabilized his cinematic success later in a number of films such as “Ayam w Lialy” (Days and Nights), “Banat el-Youm” (Nowadays’ Girls), “El-Wisada el-Khalia” (The Abandoned Pillow), “El-Khataya” (The Sins) among others.
The audience favored the new cinematic style presented by Hafez because of its vividness. The Egyptian audience, especially girls, started to view Hafez as a romance icon. The name of Abdel-Halim on any film was enough to attract audiences. His films achieved record sales.
His most famous songs, which catapulted him into fame, were “Ahwak” (I Adore You), “BetloomoniLeh” (Why Do You Blame Me), “Maw’ood” (Promised), and “Qari’at Al Fingan” (Fortune Teller).
It is worth mentioning that all Hafez’s songs were included in his films, except his patriotic songs and the last romantic ballads he sang in his final years.
All Hafez’s films witnessed the blending of his songs seamlessly into the drama. All the singers who appeared on the silver screen after his death have failed to fill his place or achieve the same success.
Despite the many years that have passed since his death, Hafez remains the most important and most successful of Egyptian and Arab musicians.
He is the only Egyptian singer that has a growing fan base even after his death. Hafez managed to build a deep-rooted relationship with the new generations through his films and songs.
Hafez appeared on the Egyptian music scene when two of Egypt’s most famous singers, Umm Kolthoum and Mohamed Abdel Wahab, were at their peak.
With his melodious voice and shorter songs, he was considered a lighter and more modern voice, the matter that built his success path despite the presence of these two giant singers.
Despite dying young at only 48, he left a legacy ofmore than 15 movies and 206 songs.
Hafez was not just a talented singer and actor with a warm and captivating voice; he was the most intelligent among his colleagues and that’s why he maintained a hold onto success.
According to John Storm Roberts, a writer for the All Music Guide, Hafez started to sing colloquial poetry songs in the 1960s. He also founded Sout al-Phan, a recording and film production company, now EMI Arabia.
His last movie was “AbiFoq al-Shagara” (My Father is on a Tree) in 1969. “AbiFoq al-Shagara” claimed at that time the longest run time in Egyptian cinema, as it showed for 33 weeks. “AbiFoq al-Shagara” garnered its production company (Sawt Al-Fenn) profits that exceeded any other Egyptian film.
Hafez was unwell for much of his life after he was diagnosed with the parasitic worm, Schistosomiasis, at the age of 11. He died in 1977; his funeral is said to have been attended by over 100,000 mourners.
Since his death, millions of his lovers visited his home and his grave, writing on its walls words of love and admiration and complaints about the problems they face as if he were alive to listen to them and provide them with his advice.