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Inta Omri: The Story Behind Um Kulthoom’s Famous Song

Music is essential and existent in all cultures of all times and places. It brings people together to share a moment of peace and beauty. Here in the Middle East, legendary singer Um Kulthoom, a.k.a “Star of the East” (1898-1975), is the greatest Arab singer of the 20th century, and perhaps has maintained that title till today! Keep reading to find out the story behind her most famous song, Inta Omri (You Are My Life) and how it all went down after a meeting between her and the composer and singer Mohammed Abdel Wahhab, another of the greatest Arab musicians (1902–1991).

With a backbone of steel, Um Kulthoom chose her musical projects carefully. Word on the street was that she and Abdel Wahhab weren’t getting along. With pressure from the late Egyptian president, Jamal Abdel Nasser, the two were finally urged to come together in the year of 1963. According to Abdel Wahhab’s voice memoirs, this is how the story went:

Ahmed El Hefnawi, the famous violinist in Um Kalthoum’s orchestra, visited Abdel Wahhab in his apartment and told him he had just come from Um Kalthoum’s home and that

“Your name came up.”

Abdel Wahhab asked if anything was wrong and he replied with,

“No, I just asked her why don’t you sing something for Abdel Wahhab, it would make him happy and she said well it’s not like he offered something and I refused!”

After hearing those words, Abdel Wahhab immediately asked Hefnawi to call her up and set up a meeting to discuss her singing the words to his fresh musical composition called “Inta Omri”.

With a date set for noon the next day, Abdel Wahhab stayed up that night altering some notes. The next day, Um Kulthoom heard the song 3 times before finally deciding that she wanted to sing the lyrics to his song.

It took till the end of 1963, nearly a month of practice, and 12 hours of studio recording, for the airwaves to finally broadcast her beautiful voice on the radio station called, “Sawt Al Arab” (Voice of Arabs).

This song was the first of a collaboration between the two great Egyptians, and it represents the musical history of all Arabs. Under the shadow of their clouds, the two together have provided shade for all Arabs worldwide and entered the heart of millions.

Don’t forget to leave a smile 🙂 !

For our Arabic version of this article click here: لقاء السحاب القصّة وراء إنتَ عُمري

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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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