Saturday, April 28, 2012
L'Hajja L'Hamdawya - 'Nuff Said!
I was thrilled to see the return of the fantastic diva L'Hajja L'Hamdawya to prominence in Morocco over the last decade. Through the '90s and early 2000s (when I spent a lot of time in Morocco), she seemed like nothing but a sepiatone memory. A well-loved celebrity from the '50s &'60s who, it was said, had fallen on hard times, been too generous (or foolhardy) with her money, and was now living in obscurity somewhere in Casablanca. Over the last 10 years, she's proved to be not only alive and well, but in fantastic voice, now into her '80s.
She began her career singing aita marsawiya and was one of the first artists to sing it on television (when it was still considered provocative music of ill-repute). Notably, she also performed and recorded with large orchestras of the chanson moderne style favored by Moroccan television and radio in the 50's-'60s. Such orchestras were usually reserved for artists working in the Arab-Art-Music of long-form compositions rather than the folkloric aita and popular chaâbi song forms. According to a Moroccan scholar I spoke with years ago, the sight of a woman holding the iconic bendir or ta'rija of the aita in front of one of these large orchestras was something unheard of, back in the day.
(video and audio are out of sync, but here's a rare vintage TV appearance of Hajja Hamdaouia)
This cassette features a more stripped-down ensemble - not a full orchestra, but just a couple of violas, a flute, a harpsichordey keyboard, and an electric guitar (in addition to the percussion). I'm guessing this recording is from the 1960s or early 1970s. I own an LP with this same photo on it (as well as a couple other cassettes with the same photo), so I'm guessing this is a cassette reissue of an earlier LP release.
1) Ach Ja Idir?
2) Al Asmar I'jebni
3) Ayamna Ayamna
4) Allah Ya'tik B-Sber
5) Wlida Wlida - Dawr Biha
Get it here.