Monday, August 08, 2016

Simsimiyya in Egyptian Popular Culture: El-Gizawy in "Fatat al-Mina (The Harbor Girl)"

In the very fine documentary Nuh el-Hamam (Wailing of the Doves), 2004, directed by Amir Ramsis, 2006), we learn that the Port Said singer and simsimiyya player El-Sayed Abdou Mahmoud, known as El-Gizawy, appears in the 1964 film, Fatat al-Mina' (The Harbor Girl), which is set in a village on the Suez Canal. (That's him on the left.)

He tells us that he worked as an ironer (mikwagi) and that he used to sing at parties in the street -- the traditional way that simsimiyya music, known as damma, was performed at the time. He says he was contacted by director Hossam el-Din Mustafa to appear in the film, which stars Farid Shawki, Mahmoud El-Meleigy, Nahed Sharif, and Nagwa Fouad. He says that he sings on two songs, but I can only find one. The song starts at about 31:45. Check it out.

When the group El Tanbura was formed in late 1988 under the leadership of Zakaria Ibrahim, el-Gizawy was one of the veteran artists recruited to join the project of reviving the Port Said musical tradition that seemed to be dying out. He appears as a singer on all four of the group's albums. Sayed Gizawy passed away in October 2015. Allah Yarhamu.

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