Al-Mihdhar: Championing the Hadhrami Song [Archives:1998/23/Culture]

June 8 1998

Following his return to Yemen from the United Arab Emirates where he had spent some time for medical treatment, Mr. Hussein Abubakar Al-Mihdhar – one of Yemen’s most famous poets and lyricists – was recently decorated by the President with the medal of ‘Literature and Art Order of Merit’.
During his stay in the UAE, Al-Mihdhar met Gulf artists whom he gave some of his new lyrics, a step that will certainly strengthen artistic relations between Yemeni and Gulf artists.
Al-Mihdhar is considered as one of the most prominent song writers in Yemen. His outstanding contribution in enriching the Hadhrami song made him gain much popularity not only in Yemen, but also in other countries in the region.
Al-Mihdhar was born in Al-Shihr, Hadhramaut, where he received traditional religious education. He started writing poetry at the age of 14 and his poems and tunes got an enthusiastic response from the Hadhrami people. His artistic works are characterized by original and creative elements, exhibiting his early maturity and advanced artistic skills.
Al-Mihdhar’s poems were first sung in 1965. From then on, Hadhrami songs started to gain artistic vitality and glitter after having been forgotten forgotten following the death of the famous singer Mohammed Jumaa Khan.
Thus the Hadhrami song started to become more popular among the people, heralding the beginning of its bloom. Abubakr Salim Bilfaqeeh is credited for the popularization of Hadhrami songs when he performed for the first time some songs written and composed by Hussein Abubakar Al-Mihdhar in 1965. These songs include “Ya Zareen Al-Inab” (Oh vine growers), “Ya Rasouli Tawajjah Bisslamah” (O my messenger travel safely).
Bilfaqeeh recorded these songs on gramophone records in Aden with the participation of a Yemeni band and the late lute player, Anwar Ahmed Qassem, who was the artistic godfather of Bilfaqeeh. Anwar Ahmed Qassem, who died in 1968, immigrated to Saudi Arabia and later recorded many of these songs in Lebanon with the aid of the Abbod Abdulaal band. Thus, the great poet Al-Mihdhar contributed greatly to the spread of Hadhrami songs like the artist Ahmed Fadhl Al-Qomandan who made the Lahji songs famous.
Al-Mihdhar has indisputably made the greatest contribution to the development of the Hadhrami song, where his songs have become famous in Yemen and all over the Arabian peninsula. During my visits to Hadhramaut along with some artists to play in musical performances and parties, I noticed that most of the citizens there knew by heart the latest poems of Al-Mihdhar, and many singers chant his songs.
Al-Mihdhar found a special style for himself to add new vision and artistic objectivity to the musical movement. It is worth mentioning that many Gulf artists have become influenced by the works of Al-Mihdhar. For example, the artist Nabeel Shouail performed the song “Ana Mansak Lau Tinsa” (I shall not forget you though you forget me), which was originally composed by Hussein Abubakar Al-Mihdhar and performed by Abubakr Salim Bilfaqeeh in the 1970s.
Through his continuous artistic works, Al-Mihdhar has become a pioneer during of the Hadhrami song all over Yemen and the Gulf. He has made various artistic contributions in the field of operetta, drama and narration. Al-Mihdhar has gained the respect of the people whether in Yemen or abroad due to his glorious artistic creation. Finally, we wish our great artist good health and more prolific creation.
By Salah Abdulaqi,
Yemen Times Music Editor.