Lahaj Musical Nadwa [Archives:1998/08/Culture]
By: Saleh Abdulbaqi, Musician/Composer
The Lahaj musical Nadwa (band) played a vey important role when it was established in 1957 by promoting the genuine and traditional Lahaj song, and adapting it to the modern music.
The outstanding artist and poet, Abdullah Hadi Sobeit presented his debut of artistic creativity with two songs: “Salat Al-Ein” or the ‘eye sheds tears’ and “Ya Bahi Al-Jabin” or ‘what a beautiful forehead you have.’
These two songs, which were sung by Mohammed Saleh Hamdoon in 1956, became instant hits all over the country.
Mohammed Murshed Naji mentioned in his book “Our Folk Songs” that these two songs shot into the ‘art’s firmament like two rockets.’ Characterized by beautiful artistic creativity and popular themes the two songs became well-known outside Yemen as well.
The Lahaj Musical Nadwa was established in 1957 under the maestroship of the well known musician, Fadhl Mohammed Al-Lahji. The band included;
1- Mohammed Saad Al-Sana’ani (violinist and composer);
2- Fadhl Mohammed Al-Lahji (lute player and composer);
3- Salah Naser Kurd (violinist);
4- Ali Salem Al-Najar (violinist);
5- Aloudi Ahmed Saleh (violinist);
6- Mahmood Jeli (as violinist);
7- Abdo Salem Al-Najar (zither player);
8- Hussien Bin Hassan (drummer); and
9- Saleh Al-Zabidi (tambourine palyer)
This was to be considered the first Yemeni full musical band or “takht.” It also included other artists such as a Abdulkarim Tawfiq, Ali Saeed Al-Odi, Ahmed Yousif Al-Zabidi, Mahdi Darwish and Faisal Alawi. It also included some poets and lyricists such as Saleh Nasib and Saleh Mahdi.
Many poets and musicians joined this band, helping to promote the Lahaj songs. These artists were primarily motivated by the desire to develop their artistic skills. That was obvious through the song “Kam Yoqol’i Al-Leil” or ‘how much the night tells me.’ It was written by the lyricist Saleh Nasib and composed by Fadhl Mohammed Al-Lahji. This song was characterized by a beautiful poetic style, and Fadhl Mohammed Al-Lahji excelled by setting a new musical form, which is considered to be the first restorational musical form to enter into the Lahaj song style.
Also, the singer Ahmed Yousif Al-Zabidi presented “Ykolol’i Nisi Hobak” or ‘they tell me she forgot your love.’ It was written by Saleh Mahdi and composed by Mohsen Ahmed Mahdi. Also, the artist Ali Saeed Al-Odi presented the song “Yawaadni” or ‘oh, but you promised,’ which was written by Saleh Nasib and composed by Fadhl Al-Lahji.
Thus, the Lahaj Musical Nedwa became active in developing the song’s artistic level, which was closely connected to its poets and musicians who enriched the artistic activity in Lahaj. The band’s activities continued in Aden and Abyan and it held many musical performances. It made a unique transition in its musical works and firmly established the original Lahaj song style.
The Lahaj Musical Nadwa regularly organized musical performances during Eid days in the sultan’s palace. Many sheikhs, prominent persons and even ordinary people were invited. Also, the band held musical performances to entertain prisoners at the Aden Central Prison.
The band recorded some songs for Aden radio, which made them famous in neighboring countries as well. They held various TV evening shows in Aden through on the famous “Tune Paradise” program. So, the restorational artistic activities of the band continued until 1968.
In spite of the reasons which led to disbanding the Lahaj Muiscal Nadwa, the great artist Faisal Alawi continued presenting the original Lahaji style. He revived forgotten Lahaj songs, and made them famous inside and outside Yemen. It is exactly as the great artist Abubakr Salem Balfaqih did for the Hadhrami songs. One of the most famous songs which is associated with Faisal Alawi is “Ya Ward Yakadi” or ‘oh roses!’ Thus Lahaj songs have become everlasting with all of their originality and artistic creativity.