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Posts Tagged ‘Umm Kalthoum’

The Arab world is divided on whether Jennifer Grout is an interloper or the reincarnation of their beloved Egyptian chanteuse Umm Kalthoum. Last night she placed third in the Beirut-based “Arabs Got Talent.”

You will be hearing a lot about this young American singer of classical Arabic songs, who is wowing judges without being able to speak a word of Arabic. If nothing else, she is giving the show international recognition. This story is from Agence France Presse (AFP).

Having taught herself to sing “the Arab world’s best-known, most difficult songs,” says AFP, Grout gave contestants in “Arabs Got Talent” a run for their money.

In early December, “Her blonde hair loose and without a sign of make-up, the 23-year-old appeared before a panel of judges to audition for the ‘Arabs Got Talent.’

“When Egyptian film star and panel member Ahmed Helmy asked her in Arabic what her what her name was, she didn’t have a clue what he was saying.

“But then she began to play the oud and sing a classic by Egyptian diva Umm Kalthoum, ‘Baeed Annak’ (Far From You).

“She stunned the audience, enunciating every word to perfection as her voice effortlessly navigated the quarter-notes that make Arabic music so distinctive. …

“As a 20-year-old student in Boston, Grout says she ‘came across an online article about Fairouz” [a Lebanese singer often referred to as ambassador to the stars].

” ‘I listened to her and watched a video of her, and I was just really intrigued and mesmerised by her voice. So I decided to start exploring Arabic music more,’ Grout told AFP.”

Read more about her discovery of Arab music and the classical instrument called the oud three years ago and how she ended up competing on a show in Lebanon, here.

Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP
Jennifer Grout, a contestant in the pan-Arab TV show “Arabs Got Talent”, poses for a photo at the MBC television station studios in Zouk Mosbeh, north of Beirut, on December 4, 2013.

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