Why don’t we honor our greats? Yemeni singer finds his home in many hearts [Archives:2002/44/Culture]

October 28 2002

If a Yemeni abroad hears his song, he immediately feels homesick. His voice just might move this Yemeni to the ticket office, to fly home. Those who can’t take the trip, still image the beauty of trees and dew, and the attraction of every part of nature they left behind in their country. He sang mostly, if not all, of his love for his homeland, and he’s embodied in the country.
He is Ayoub Tarish Al Absi, whose national, romantic songs overwhelm all of Yemen. He started his artistic career in 1965 and is still a source of production and energy. Over such a long period, he has sung hundreds of immortal songs of many themes.
His first song is Nida’a Al baeed ‘call for the migrant.’ This song addresses the migrants abroad, appealing to them not to forget their home and their loved ones.
His voice has been a constant companion with every person inside or outside the country and on all occasions. His songs are sung everywhere: at weddings, festivals, romantic occasions, on farms and even in battles. He has sung for every part of his beloved country: birds, rains and mountains.
His main composer is the late poet Abdullah Abdul Wahhab Noman, who has composed the words of the national anthem performed by Ayoub. That is one of the reasons his reputation is recognized all over the country.
In addition, he is also known for his ability to break regional borders and to sing in several dialects. Moreover, he could gain a respectable listening population outside Yemen particularly in the Gulf. Many of his songs are so popular there, like Irga’a Li Hawlak ‘Back to your field.’
This sone is one of his most famous songs. Tayer Am Gharb’Oh, Bird of the West’ is sung in Tehami dialect, one of the most complicated dialects in Yemen. It was so wonderfully performed that it amazed everyone. What is extremely amazing is that the poem of this song came to Ayoub by chance and he started performing it without the composer’s knowledge. And before presenting the song to the public, he started looking for the writer to get his permission.
It is true to say the memory of his songs has remained and will remain undimmed in their pristine beauty for generations to come.
When I met him in his modest house in Taiz City just a few hours after making the appointment, he impressed me as a humble, simple, religious person and a man of principle. When asked ” Mr. Ayoub, you are the singer who has given the country everything, and do you expect it to reward you?” He simply said, ” I have done nothing.” When a similar was questioned, he replied “that’s just due to Allah’s blessings on me.”
What greatness! But the sad thing is that our country doesn’t honor our own greats. It only honors those who shout. Isn’t that true?