Mohammed Jum’ah Khan: A memorable Yemeni singer [Archives:2006/909/Culture]

January 5 2006

Mohammed Jum'ah Khan is a famous Yemeni singer who could inculcate his love in the audience by means of his unforgettable songs. Although, he died along time ago, he is still living in the memory of the Yemeni people and his songs are still very appealing and enchanting. Recently, his 24nd death commemoration has passed.

Khan was a giant in terms of singing. He sang for some thirty years in the pre-Revolution Hadhramout when it was a sheikhdom ruled by a sultan. His songs were broadcasted on the waves of many radios such as the BBC, Kuwait Radio, Abu Dhabi Radio etc.

Mohammed Khan was described to be like a candle and star in the history of Yemeni singing art in general and the Hadhrami in particular.

He is said to have been the first Yemeni singer to promote and record his works as his first song was recorded in 1939 on wax cylinders.

Multiple creativity:

Although he was born and lived in Hadhramout, Khan excelled, not only in Hadhrami mode of singing, but in also the Lahji, Yaf'i, and Sana'ani which he performed in a creatively wonderful manner which drew the audience's applause and appreciation.

Renown Yemeni historian Abdul-Qadir Bamatraf said that Khan furnishes the melody and words of the lyric with a touch from his soul, hence building a bridge of joyfulness with his audience.

He was reportedly born in Hadhramout in 1903. He learnt the basics of reading and writing in the local madrasa and was distinguished by his voice. He was apt for reciting verses from the Holy Quraan and poetic verses and he was among the pupils who were usually performing on public occasions.

When he was fifteen, he joined the Sultanate brass band, led by an Indian and he remained a member of it until he was 29. He got promotions while he was there as he could successfully play various types of musical instruments and excelled particularly in playing qanbous and oud. Ultimately he was appointed a leader of the band.

Forming his own band:

Mohammed Jum'ah Khan formed his own band when he retired from the Sultan band. He took up singing as a profession. His first appearance with the band was in a solo performance playing oud and tambourine. Later, his fame grew and spread over Arabia and Africa.

He sang for different producers using verses from the poetic collections of many great Arab literary figures such as Basharah al-Khawri, Zuhair bin Abi Salma and Antarah bin Shaddad. Khan could reach the hearts of the people through his mastery over the art of signing and his identification with the versifier.

Of the testimonies made in his favor is that of late Farid al-Atrash, famous Egyptian singer, who, when listening to the audio recording of the performance of Khan with his band, praised him and could hardly believe that the band consisted of only four members.

Khan's house to be a museum:

Work is underway to transform the house of late Mohammed Jum'ah Khan, located in Al-Salam zone in the city of Mukalla, Hadhramout Province, into a museum featuring his relics, belongings and everything pertaining to his art. The house has been already purchased from the singer's heirs.