Oum kalthoum* om kalsoum - telee el fagr

To me, Tahseen was so much more than a contributor to my web site. Even though we lived far apart, I saw Tahseen and Kathe several times over the years. I always appreciated their warmth and generosity. I first "met" Tahseen online back in 1997 on the med-dance list on the Internet, where he periodically posted messages. I knew he was in Lawrence, Kansas, so when a business trip arose requiring me to travel to the Kansas City area, I emailed him to say I'd be in the neighborhood. He and Kathe came to Kansas City for an evening get-together at Tasso's restaurant, and they invited several local dancers to join us. I saw them on follow-up visits to Kansas City. They vended at Rakkasah for several years, and it was always a pleasure to greet them there in the anteroom off to the left of the main stage. I also enjoyed encountering them in Egypt at the Ahlan wa Sahlan festival.

Umm Kulthum was born in the village of Tamay e-Zahayra, belonging to the city of El Senbellawein , Dakahlia Governorate , in the Nile Delta . Her birth date is unconfirmed, as birth registration was not enforced throughout the Arab world in that era. Some sources claim that she was born either on December 31, 1898; December 31, 1904; or May 4, 1904. She learned how to sing by listening to her father teach her older brother, Khalid. At a young age she showed exceptional singing talent. Her father, an imam at the local mosque, taught her to recite the Qur'an , and she is said to have memorized the entire book . When she was 12 years old, her father noticed her strength in singing so he asked her to join the family ensemble. She dressed as a boy in order for her father to not face disapprobation due to having a girl on stage. At the age of 16, she was noticed by Mohamed Aboul Ela, a modestly famous singer, who taught her the old classical Arab repertoire. A few years later, she met the famous composer and oudist Zakariyya Ahmad , who invited her to come to Cairo . Although she made several visits to Cairo in the early 1920s, she waited until 1923 before permanently moving there. She was invited on several occasions to the house of Amin Beh Al Mahdy, who taught her to play the oud, a type of lute. She developed a close relationship with Rawheya Al-Mahdi, Amin's daughter, and became her closest friend. Kulthum even attended Rawheya's daughter's wedding, although she normally preferred to avoid appearing in public (off stage).

Linda Grondahl's background is that of a devoted lover of Arabic music and dance. She danced with Amina and the Aswan Dancers for many years. She took Arabic percussion with Mary Ellen Donald, Su Su Pampanin, George Dubai, Vince Deldado, and Tony Lammam. She took Arabic singing from Nicole Ibrahim, Mimi Spencer, Georges Lammam. On the oud, she studied under Nazir Latouf, Mimi Spencer, Abdullah Kdough. She was a member of the Aswat Arab-American Choir under the direction of Elias Lammam. She is now a member of the El Ashaab dance troupe, and Tahneen, the all-girl, all-American Middle eastern music ensemble. They have played for Arab and American events, and for many years at the Rakassah festival.

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