A Distinguished Yemeni Singer,  Hamoud Al-Jonaid [Archives:1999/36/Culture]

September 6 1999

Hamoud Al-Jonaid was born in Ibb in 1956. In his yearly days, he was much attracted to the Yemeni classical music and latter on influenced by it. He enjoyed listening to the Great Yemeni singers like Al-Qotoby, Al-Aanisy, Assimah, Al-Morshidy and Ahmad Fathy to know more about the features of the Yemeni music. In fact, it was this love for the Yemeni songs that molded his talent. His choice for the old Yemeni songs formed a source by which he has been aspired. 
The start was with the Oud till he become a professional. Besides this, Al-Jonaid is gifted with a sweet melodious voice. In the beginning of the 1980s, Al-Jonaid started singing in gatherings (maqials), in the house of the late captain, Abdu Al-Rahman Al-Haidary. He used to sing the old Yemeni songs like “Bakhilt bilwasl a’nna” and “Yaaman alaik attwakul” . these two songs were later broadcasted from Holland Radio. This marked the beginning of Al-Jonaid’s career as a professional singer. he traveled a lot in the beginning of his career and had parties in many Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. In 1996, he was invited to take part in Folkloric Musical Festival n Britain and achieved the third position. 
After this Al-Jonaid signed a contract with a company for musical productions o record a number of old Yemeni songs on CDs. As a result of this, Yemeni songs became accessible to their fans. The second international participation for the singer was also in Britain where he took part in the Yemeni Immigrants Festival and was given the title of “The Ambassador of the Yemeni Song.” This year, Al-Jonaid also achieved a great success, not in Britain this time but in Italy in the Ravinna Festival. He, as usual appeared in the traditional Yemeni dress and initiated his program by a Sanaani song. 
Saleh Abdul Baki 
Yemen Times 
  They Say …. I Say!!
They say that if you travel far from home, you will have no place to call home. I say that if you travel far, you have more than one place to call home. 
I thought about this when I came a cross a letter I wrote to my family during my studies in the USA. It was the first letter I sent my family after arriving and enrolling at the university. For a long time, I have resisted reading all the letters because of the charged memories they carry; the first impressions, excitement and the longing for my family and friends. 
The lines overflow with description of places I called my second home and people most dear to me. Should I resist the urging feeling to read my first letter aloud, to display its intimate contents to more than my eyes?? 
It begins: 
“Dear family, 
I’m safe and in aweÉ Somehow, I do feel the earth spinning around me literally, since it is for real that I’m at the other end of the world. It took only two days to get there but this time I didn’t have to close my eyes to imagine it, I didn’t even need Dorothy shoes to get that far. My feet have touched the other world, yet the spinning seems to continue and I have no sense of direction here. There is no Nogom Mountain to guide me to the east, no Zubairy Street to lead me to west. There is no Bab-Al-yemen to watch the chaotic crowed burst at the entrance of the gate. There are no bread selling women in the street, competing for buyers with their faces covered and bodies wrapped in carefully spilled colored fabric. 
Dear Family, 
I still have the last moments with you within tears reach. Plenty of tears have crowded themselves on the windows of my eyes preventing me from seeing the last of your adorned faces saying goodbye. You were standing behind the glass door separating travelers from family and friends. I was at the other side watching your hands waving, not so cheerful goodbye. You were afraid of letting me go to the unknown and I was afraid that I was letting you stay with an empty room where you can no longer find me in. 
Dear family, 
I’m at the window seat (like I requested) thinking that I could make my goodbye more visible to you. I had only the little window to see more of you while you see less of me. The mounting excitement I felt in the way to the airport is now crumbling and I can only feel heaviness in my heart. This heaviness feels like an air balloon blown up with hollowness. You were still holding to the ropes; trying to keep it grounded, steady, oblivious to its growing shakiness as I suddenly let go of you with unsaid qualms. 
Like a hot air balloon I sat in my seat ready for the explosion of tears. I wanted to cry loud and long, yet my voice failed me and only my tears came forward voiceless. The place is still on ground and I’m missing you already. A friendly security officer came to reassure me and I tried to force a smile to my disobeying lips. 
Do I dare to close my eyes absorbing the tiny details of young sister’s braids, older sister’s black veils, and the searching eyes of dad.?? 
Do I dare not belong to the colored stone houses, dusty streets and the lively chaos of the city?? 
Do I dare to ignore the stubborn presence of the blue mountains, the embroided windows ;seeping warm colors, as the darkness bolts in the tiny blue door shops engulfed in mysterious dark and dim glitter of pear shaped lamps?? 
Do I dare not to smell the (Kisher) Yemeni coffee you put for me in my luggage mom?? Do I dare to forget your kiss and quivering lips as they were murmuring about the coffee and the taste of love and the yearning it was made with?? Do I dare to forget my promise to you to drink the coffee leaving nothing to the cup but its warmth?? 
Dear family, 
I’m at Frankfurt airport not knowing what to do next. I follow the line ahead of me and it leads me through customs and the boring paperwork procedures. I was standing in the line when it dawned to me that I’m standing at the beginning of the new world that I’m about to be in. No longer is the language familiar, nor the looks. Whiter, taller are the bodies. 
Almost everyone has yellow hair (which later I accepted calling blond). The airport was crowded, but there seemed to be a code of silence around. Only facial expressions and lip movements could be seen as a clear sign of happening communication. 
I had hours of waiting before the next flight takes off. This is my first journey alone and the first so far away with no fears or worries. 
I was just overwhelmed by all the different nationalities around me in the airport. They were moving accordingly and I got so intrigued with all the emotions gushing all over the big hall. Crying couples, mother kissing children and open welcoming arms. There were lots of laughter and lots of hugging. Some were in a hurry dragging their suitcases behind them and some were sitting leisurely at a caf drinking and reading. 
Dear family, 
I found sleeping as the best solution to bear so long travel. I ate, read, watched movies, and talked to passengers around me, as well as myself. The passengers I talked to were getting as restless as I was. We found some distraction in telling each other about our lives, loved ones we left behind and our different destinations. More plane meals came in and I could no longer eat what looked like hospital meals with the tiny plates and sterilized taste. 
No longer did the passengers kept their tidy looks. Hair was all over the small pillows, clothes were wrinkled and the eyes were reddish and tried. 
I know that I’m going to the country in which Jackson and Madonna live. I believed that people would be dressing and dancing like them. I knew that I will be enrolled at a university which I knew nothing about, neither did I know about the state I will be in ,beyond its name. I knew that I had no idea where to go and how to get there and that all I had with me were the names of the hotel and the shuttle that will pick me up from the airport to the hotel. 
I knew that I had no family or friends to welcome me in, and that I will have to seek friendship. 
I loved the mystery behind knowing, all that which means- knowing nothing! 
It is 10 PM Denver time and I’m making my arrival to the spacious, airport, the entrance to the “twilight zone”, as it seemed to me. I let out a sigh of relief, as the fresh air was lulling my eyes to drowsiness.” 
Dear Family, I love you all, 
You daughter and sister,