First Anniversary of Basuwaid’s Passing Away [Archives:1999/15/Last Page]

April 12 1999

Today, 12th April marks the first anniversary of the sorrowful passing away of the notable Yemeni singer Mohammed Basuwaid. Channel 2 Aden TV is preparing on occasion a special program on the sad event of Basuwaid death.
Basuwaid was one of the important creative figures in the Yemeni singing movement. During his long career in the world of music and singing, which lasted for 43 years, Basuwaid artistic contribution covered a wide range of love, traditional and public-spirited songs. With his distinguished career contributing much to Yemeni music. He has always been much appreciated by audiences, and his artistic style has spread to other Yemeni artists, particularly in Aden.
Mohammed Bin Mohammed Basuwaid was born in Aden in 1938. He was born into a well to do family, and his father was a cloth-dyer. He was going to follow in his father’s work, but he became famous after writing the poem “Al Zamel.” He was a poet before his singing career, but he soon became beter known as a singer than a poet.
During his childhood, Basuwaid listened to many old Yemeni songs performed by first generation classical singers. These were mostly performed in wedding parties near his residence area in Shiekh Othman. Therefore Basuwaid was influenced by singers such as Shiekh Ali Abu Baker, a pioneer of such parties for his beautiful voice and his great performances of Mowashah (Sanaani songs), as well as the singer Shiekh Ibrahim Al Mas . Sana’ani songs filled the artist’s passion, besides other common songs.
The artist began to sing traditional songs, both Lahji and Sanaani, at the age of twelve. He was somewhat of a child prodigy, and his art and singing abilities became evident early on in his life.
When he was twelve, his passion to practice his hobby forced him to save money so he could buy a lute. Shiekh Abdo Sief, a lute maker in Aden, told us that when the boy came asking for a lute, and actually had 75 shilling (the lute value at that time) with him to purchase it, he realized that the boy could very well be something in the future. The artist began taeching himself on the lute, imitating the Sanaani and Lahji songs which were so dear to him Ð a clear mark of his coming artistic path. I would like to mention here that the artist was a singer, a musician and a lyricist starting with his first song that he performed with his beautiful voice titled (Al Maana Al Kowkabani) . Basuwaid was once asked why he doesn’t sing any one else’s songs, and he replied, “Although the musical world is full of poets, I couldn’t find a writer that suited my particular tastes, so I decided to write my own poems.” His songs were very successful when he first began singing in wedding parties in 1950.
At one point, when working conditions were hard in Aden and he could not find a job, he left Aden to perform in Saudi Arabia, but with limited succes, and his main work was still performing in wedding parties and private gatherings for Yemeni immigrants in Jeddah. However, Jeddah Broadcasting Station heard of him, and after he recorded some songs for them, he became famous throughout Saudi Arabia. His success in Saudi helped him to spread Yemeni songs abroad. His estrangement from his homeland ended after after four years, and he returned to Aden. Basuwaid became famous there with the song “Abu Zaid”, a famous traditional Lahji song.
His first participation in a singing Festival
At a time when song festival were widely spread in Aden the artist participated in a festival given by the artist Ahmed Murshid Naji in 1961 during a wide competition stage, Basuwaid sang before audience for the first time, a matter of judging the artist by public, his first song he participated with was (Ahbat Raba Sana’a) one of the traditional Yemeni songs, which were very successful and a main reason to become professional in the art of Yemeni singing.
In the early 1960’s Basuwaid was called upon by Aden Broadcast Station to record some of his work. This was a major part in his songs spreading locally and internationally, and he recorded several of his other songs in Beirut within a few months.
In the mid 1960’s, Basuwaid stopped all his singing activities due to the sickness of his spouse. Other artists donated a singing festival’s profits to help him in obtaining enough money to treat his wife.
He returned to his artistic work in the 1970’s, with more great songs, and shows that his fans loved. He began making journeys inside the country, visiting Sanaa and recording some of his original songs in Sanaa’s Radio and TV center, songs that have his special artistic flavor. They were in the same direction and style as the traditional songs he chose, while he was trying to develop his work in the specific direction of traditional music.
In the Seventies the artist made several trips to Kuwait and Egypt to record some of his songs. He also performed in a special singing festival in Kuwait for Yemeni immigrants.
Briefly, that was the journey of the artist, 43 years of giving his best in songs and music that still remains in our memory with his distinctive style.
In 1997 Basuwaid died, after a long struggle with illness. He is well rememberd by the renewed Yemeni song artists and the Yemeni artistic movement.
By- Saleh Abdul Baqi
Art Editor, Yemen Times.