Monday, April 09, 2012
Dalida shares her Arab culture with Enrico Macias and Claude François
Dalida, born in Shobra, Cairo, to Italian parents. Enrico Macias, an Algerian Jew, born Gaston Ghenassia, in Constantine, Algeria. Both huge stars in France. Part of the secret of their successes was that their music sounded a bit exotic, but for them to have used their background in the Arab world as more than frills would have been met with racist hostility. The Arabness therefore manifests itself in small doses. As in this case, in some sort of variety show, where Enrico greets Dalida in Arabic, with "Ahlan wa sahlan Dalida, salamaat salamaat" (welcome Dalida, greetings, greetings). She responds, "Ahlan wa sahlan ya Enrico, ezzayyak? Kuwayyis, ilhamdou lillah?" (Welcome Enrico, how are you? Well, thank God?"(The clip is not dated, but perhaps it's after Dalida recorded her string of hits in Arabic, starting with "Salma ya Salama," and so now it was somewhat more acceptable for stars like her to refer to their Arab roots -- in her case, cultural roots.)
They proceed to do a duet of Dalida's first hit, from 1956, "Bambino." Watch Dalida do the original here, back in the days when she wore her hair dark.
It's worth recalling that Jean Dujardin does a version of "Bambino," in Arabic, in his hilarious spy spoof, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. You can check that one out here.
Enrico did not record in Arabic (other than some hints or a few words) until 1999, when he released his terrific Hommage à Cheikh Raymond, his tribute to his teacher and father-in-law, the grand master of malouf, Raymond Leyris.
And then there is this clip, of Dalida with another great French star, Claude François. They open by speaking of the fact that they both were born in Egypt, and that one of Claude François' parents was Italian. They then proceed to sing some duets in Italian.
Claude François (author of "Comme d'habitude," the original of "My Way") was born in Ismailiya, Egypt, in 1939. His father worked as a shipping traffic controller in the Suez Canal. The family left for France in the wake of the Tripartite Aggression (a.k.a. Suez War) of 1956.
Dalida recalled her first meeting with Claude François in 1963, when they became friends, thus: “Nous nous sentions tous les deux déracinés...Ensemble, nous parlions en égyptien” (We both felt uprooted...Together, we used to speak in Egyptian -- i.e., Egyptian Arabic). (Catherine Rihoit, Dalida, 1995, p. 344)