Egypt Independent

Abdel Halim Hafez: The Dark Nightingale, 1929-1977



On the anniversary of his death, Al-Masry Al-Youm remembers Abdel Halim Hafez, one of Egypt’s most famous voices.

Hafez was born 21 June, 1929 and completed 15 movies and more than 206 songs before he died in 1977. His first musical hit came in 1951 when he stepped in for singer Kareem Mahmoud on Egyptian National Radio. He starred in his first movie, Lahn el-wafaa (The Song of Truth), in 1955. His last movie, Abi foq al-Shagara (My Father is on a Tree, 1969), still plays constantly on Egyptian television.

Hafez appeared on the Egyptian music scene at the end of the careers of two of Egypt’s most famous singers, Um Kalthoum and Mohamed Abdel Wahab. With his sweet voice and shorter songs, he was considered a lighter and more modern voice than the classics.

Hafez was unwell for much of his life, after he was diagnosed with the parasitic worm bilharizia at age 11. Some, however, rumored that Hafez only pretended to be sick to elicit sympathy from women.

Hafez was actually not the celebrity’s real family name. Hafez Abdel Wahab, a radio executive, discovered Hafez (then Abdel Halim Ali Ismail Shabana) and in turn, Hafez took Abdel Wahab’s first name as his last.

According to John Storm Roberts, a writer for the All Music Guide, Hafez started to sing colloquial poetry and more meaningful folk songs in the 1960s. In doing so, he significantly influenced Egyptian popular music. He also founded Sout al-Phan, a recording and film production company, now EMI Arabia.

Hafez’s funeral, held 33 years ago today, is said to have been attended by over 100,000 mourners.

Abdel Halim Hafez filmography:

1. Galal in Lahn el-wafaa (The Song of Truth, 1955)
2. Ali in Ayamna el-helwa (Our Best Days, 1955)
3. Ayyam wa layali (Days and Nights,1955)
4. Samir in Mawad gharam (Appointment with Love, 1956)
6. Mahmoud in Dalila (1956)
7. Adel in Fata Ahlami (Dreams of Youth, 1957)
8. Khaled in Banat el yom (Girls of Today, 1957)
9. Salah in El-wessada el khalia (The Empty Pillow, 1957)
10. Abdel Moneim in Sharia el hob (The Street of Love, 1959)
11. Ahmed Sami in Hekayet hub (A Love Story, 1959)
12. El banat wel seif (The Girls in Summer, 1960)
13. Salah in Yom min omri (A Day of my Life, 1961)
14. Hussein in Al-khataya (The Sin, 1962)
15. Ibrahim Farid in Mabodet el gamahir (The Diva, 1967)
15. Adel in Abi foq al-shagara (My Father is on a Tree, 1969)

Abdel Halim Hafez partial discography:
1. Al-khataya (The sin, 2009)
2. Abi foq al-shagara (My Father is on a Tree, 2009)
3. Maaboudet al-jamaheer (The Diva, 2008)
4. Yom min omri (A Day of my Life, 2008)
5. Lahen el wafaa/ El wesada al-khalia, Original Soundtrack (The Song of Truth/The Empty Pillow, 2008)
6. Maweed gharam (Appointment with Love, 2008)
7. Hekayet hub (A Love Story, 2008)
8. Kariat al-fengan (The Fortune Teller, 2008)
9. Karait al-fengan/Samra’a (The Fortune Teller/Brunette, 2008)
10. Zay el-hawa: Arabian Masters (Like the Wind, 2004)
11. Gana el-hawa live/Maddah el-amar (Love Has Come/Praiser of the Moon, 2003)
12. Arabian Masters: Mawood (Promised, 2003)
13. Arabian Greats (2003)
14. Anthology (2001)
15. 1976: The final performance (2001)
16. Le Youhou des amants (The Youhou of Lovers, 2000)
17. Les inedits (The Enedited, 2000)
18. Maddah el-amar (Praiser of the Moon, 2000)
19. Anthology 1950-1954 (2000)
20. Anthology 1954-1959 (2000)
21. Anthology 1960-1964 (2000)
22. Anthology 1964-1969 (2000)
23. Anthology 1976: The Final Performance (2000)
24. Legends of the 20th Century (2000)
25. Ya markabi siri (Sail, My Boat, 1999)
26. Hawel teftekerny (Try to Remember Me, 1999)
27. Layali el-hob/El-banat wel seif (Nights of Love/The Girls in Summer, 1998)
28. Dalila/Sharia el-hob, Original Soundtrack (The Street of Love, 1998)
29. Banat el-youm & Ayamna el-helwa (Girls of Today & 1998)
30. Ayam wi layali & Fata ahlami (Days and Nights & Dreams of Youth, 1998)
31. Al-adaaya (The Case, 1998)
32. Live concert at the Royal Albert Hall – London (1997)

Amazon carries all these albums as well as 288 mp3s by Abdel Halim Hafez.