Faisal Alawy

The master of Oud and the Pioneer of the Lahji Song

Alawi was born in the Tuban district in 1949 in what was back then the “Sultanate of Lahej” and died in 2010 in Aden, Republic of Yemen.

Alawi enjoyed wide national and regional popularity. Alawi had the most prominent role in reviving the Lahji folk heritage throughout the region.

He became a professional singer when he joined the Lahjia musical colloquium in 1959 and was trained by the most prominent poets and singers of Lahj. From the city of Lahj, Alawi sang his first songs from Lahj (I ask you with love, you the beautiful); the poem was by the poet Ahmed Abbad Al-Husseini and composed by Salah Nasser Kurd. Alawi was distinguished by his bass voice, he had a remarkable charisma and he was a skilled oud player as he added eighteen chords to the classic ones.

Alawi directly interacted with his fans through the wedding parties he performed in Lahji and Aden. He released several of his most famous songs, specifically in the Makhdara theatre. Makhdara is a large tent installed in the middle of the neighborhood to hold men’s wedding ceremonies. In this tent, Alawi performed for the entire evening in the groom’s honour in the mindset of public cheering and clamor.

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

The fame of Alawi, known as “Abu Basil,” covered all of the Arabian Gulf. His fame spread more a while after his teacher’s death, the Yemeni musician Fadl Muhammad al-Lahji. At the time, Alawi formed his band, with which he held many soirees and artistic parties in Yemen and abroad in Cairo, Beirut, and London.

In the late sixties, together with a group of poets, he formed the “Symposium of Tobin Musical,” intending to develop the Lahjji song. Alawi was also associated with the Prince poet Ahmed Fadl Al Qamandan, who was the founder of modern lahji songs. His Lahji poems inspired Alawi, and it is why Lahji songs were dominant among Alawi’s production.

Faisal Alawi died after a struggle with illness on the morning of Sunday, February 7, 2010.

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