Mohammad al-Harithi

Mohammad al-Harithi is one of the last authentic representatives of Yeminite classical music, the “Song of Sanaa”, al-ghina’ al-san’ani (named after the historical capital). He sings homayni poetry, studded with the Sanaa dialect, and accompanied by the lute. A native of the city of Kawkaban, he is the heir to a long aristocratic tradition of scholars, poets and musicians.

Born around 1930 into a family of scholars, Mohammad al-Harithi has spent his whole youth in this majestic and elevating natural environment. He studied religion and poetry, as was proper, but what he liked most was singing. This he learned in secret, since his family considered that profane music was against religion and the family honour. Thus, young Mohammad would hide in the caves of this steep region, where he could practice without being bothered. With friends of his own age he formed a club for poetry and music; they used to meet in the mountains, where their only audience were the lambs and the birds of prey of the peaks…

Having taken sides in the civil war (1962-1967), Mohammad al-Harithi used to sing in the trenches in order to defend the Republic. He thus risked his life to uphold the morale of the troops, a fact that has gained him a lot of respect in his country. He is also the composer of several original songs (not presented here) sometimes on audacious themes. 

Jean Lambert
Translated by Mona Khazindar

Available album : The Hour of Solomon