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Mona Khashoggi’s homage to a golden legend: Umm Kulthum
Guest Columnist

Mona Khashoggi’s homage to a golden legend: Umm Kulthum

Mona Khashoggi’s homage to a golden  legend: Umm Kulthum

Umm Kulthum comes to life at the elegant Umm Kulthum & The Golden Era - A Musical Tribute, held at Ithra Theater. Photo by Ahmad Al-Thani. 

By Mona Khashoggi
August 23rd, 2020

In Umm Kulthum’s last interview, after performing in Paris and before passing away on February 3, 1975, she said she had an invitation to come and sing in London and that she was looking forward to it. Now, after 45 years since her passing, I brought her back to life through a musical show I wrote and produced to perform in London, the city she hoped to perform in. Umm Kulthum & The Golden Era was the first English musical at the prestigious Palladium Theater about an Arab music legend, and it is my gift to her.

Umm Kulthum became a living legend capable of surviving not just shifts in musical taste, but also revolutions and changes in leadership. My love and respect for this woman who rose to international stardom from a humble background as the daughter of a village sheikh in the Egyptian Delta, is both professional and personal. 

She was a friend of my father’s, travelling with him to Paris and Vienna and when she died, my family grieved as though we had lost a family member. Like millions of others, her songs have been a source of comfort and passion throughout my life, connected to memories of the family home in Saudi as a child, on picnics in Lebanon as a teenager, as well as driving through the English countryside listening to her music as a mother. 

Known by many terms of endearment, she was the Star of the Orient, the Peoples’ Singer, the Darling of the East; a woman who demonstrated what is possible for anyone with ambition and strength. Despite her great fame, who she really was remains an enigma. She branded herself, and kept up an image. Perhaps, this element of mystery is what keeps great divas like Umm Kulthum a legend for the ages.

Mona Khashoggi's elegant homage to the legend has been traveling the world.

The musical tribute that was produced and written by Mona Khashoggi and directed by Bronagh Lagan, made its  latest stop (March 2023) at The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture - Ithra, Dhahran. It takes its audience back to a golden age, an age filled with legends, grace and music. We expect to see more great things from the dynamic and creative Mrs Khashoggi. 

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