Cairo, Egypt


In Cairo one can be both the tourist and the attraction at the same time. This huge crowded city is not just Egypt's capital but also the capital of the Arab world and music. Anyone who makes a success in Cairo has assured their success throughout the Arab world, while many Arab musicians and singers migrate to Cairo to experience fame and glory. The pop idol career is very popular and sought after because the arab maket might be poor but is huge in numbers.

The middle and lower classes as well as the labour class are the "silent power" of Egypt. Their music, which is the folk music in all its versions, prevails in today's Cairo. Nevertheless the glorious past is still present.

Leonidas Antonopoulos in a flashback to the lives of major artists of Egypt's music, first of all presents Um Kalsoum, also the "Nightingale of the Nile" Abd el-Halim Hafez, the revitalizer of Egyptian music Abd el-Ouahab, and many contemporary stars of the classic egyptian singing with parallel pop career such as Ali el-Hagar.

Around the Nile, he met the most important jazz representative of Egypt, drummer Gechigia Khalil and inside a stadium he encountered the rising star of Egypt called Hamey. He dived into illegal night clubs with distorted music and lascivious dancing, a cheap imitation of the big night clubs program. He also came close to see how religion replaces the state providing for the poor food, shelter, job, education and a husband in exchange for faith, while visiting a mosque in the market where the ceremony was reminiscent of that of the Sufi.

He also met the other side of this chaotic reality. He encountered young bands and musicians who make modern arab music such as "Wust el Ballad", he attended a heavy metal concert with english lyrics and all the above in a private cultural center under a bridge beside Nile which was made by a notable man, an advertiser and the son of a former Minister of Culture.

The different genres of musical expression in Egypt are best described when visiting a "moulent", i.e. the celebration of a saint's feast. There, the "zikr" leads to ecstasy, body and music are united. The "moulent" is the expression of the heretical, the unholy alliance of music and Islam. A strong combination of resistance not only against the fundamentalists but also the political and the religious authority.