Abu Bakr Bin
Salem Balfakih

The king of Hadhrami’s melody

Balfakih was born in the city of Tarim (Al-Ghinaa) in Hadramout on the seventeenth of March 1939. He grew up in a family known for science and literature.

He completed his studies at the School of Brotherhood in Tarim and was taught by a number of his relatives the Noble Qur’an and principles of science, where he showed superiority noticed in the sciences of Arabic language and poetry at the age of thirteen.

During his twenties, Abu Bakr worked for 3 years in education as a grammar teacher. He started writing poetry at seventeen when he wrote his first song, “Oh Rose, Your Beauty Among the Roses,” which he recorded on Radio Aden in 1956.

The city of Aden was the starting point of his artistic career in the 1950s. He was known among many poets and artists such as the poet Lotfi Jaafar Aman, the artist Ahmed bin Ahmed Qassem, Muhammad Saad Abdullah, Muhammad Murshid Naji, and others. Abu Bakr performed at an artistic level through various seasonal parties that were held in Aden. In 1958, he left for Beirut and almost settled there, where he recorded most of his music during that period, and through that, he was able to reach all parts of the Arab world.

Abu Bakr Salem on the stage of the National Theater in Aden in 1982

His artistic collaboration with Al-Mihdhar formed a distinctive creative duality, in which he transposed between melodies, including religious hymns, Bedouin chants, and patriotic chants with deep messages that differed in their content, which varied between estrangement and nostalgia at times, and land and love at other times, from “Ser Hobi”, “Bashil Hobi”, and others.

Abu Bakr Salem achieved great success at a local and national level, and his works were sung by major artists. His songs were famous for wisdom and exhortation, and he is considered one of the few artists in the Arab world who succeeded in combining singing, poetry, composing, and musical distribution.

He passed away on the tenth of December 2017 in the city of Riyadh at the age of 78… May God’s mercy be upon you, Abu Aseel.

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