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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Ahmed 'Hudeydi' Ismail Hussein
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Musician: Ahmed 'Hudeydi' Ismail Hussein

Location: London

Instruments: oud / voice

Music: Somali folk


Listen  Listen (2'49) to 'Urhoyo' performed by Hudeydi

Listen  Listen (2'06) to 'Ambaroodka', performed by Hudeydi and his daughter, Zeynab, at home in their own living room

Listen  Listen (00'43) to Hudeydi describe the oud

Listen  Listen (29'52) to 'My Oud and I', an edition of Art Beat, BBC World Service, tx. January, 2003 which featured Hudeydi. The presenter/producer was Jenny Horracks

'If there's an oud lying near me I can't resist it - I've got to play it'

How I came to this music:

When I was 14 years old, my father took me to a party in Aden where I heard an Arabic man playing an oud. I liked it and knew I wanted to learn how to play myself. At school I was constantly drumming on the desk so my teacher recommended that I learn how to play the drums. I went on to learn the oud from Abdullahi Qarshe, the most famous and first Somali to create tunes for the instrument. He advised my father to replace the pen and book with an oud and risch (pick) so that I could really practise. After 6 months, my teacher was listening to me. If you're a musical man and have a sense of rhythm, as I do, the oud is easy to learn. For me it's like an illness - if there's an oud lying near me, I've just got to play it.

There were very few oud players in Somalia before the 60's. Before then, due to war, most musicians rarely reached their 30th birthday. Now there are hundreds of players in all the villages.

Where I play:

Ahmed 'Hudeydi' Ismail HusseinThrough out the late 50's & 60's, I played all over Somalia in public places, for theatre and concerts. My nickname is 'Hudeydi' but I'm known as 'The King' because of my hot rhythms. I was always into rock & roll and Elvis Presley. There was even a time where a prominent Civil servant, supported by lots of parents, tried to ban my music. For them, all us musicians were devils because we were driving the youth crazy. One old man was particularly angry because his wife dropped the rice as she served him his dinner, she was that distracted singing our songs.

In 1974 I moved to the UK and since then I play in private for family parties and community occasions. I'd really like to have my own school where I could teach the oud. I've taught my own children and grandchildren. The oud is my greatest pleasure. It's music that can satisfy a huge crowd on its own unlike amplified music and keyboards. I'm 74 years old now so I'm really keen to pass on the tradition, especially to young Somalis here.

A favourite song:

'Urhoyo' is a song I composed for my brother. He worked as a police officer in Aden and went to great trouble once to find me when I was living in Djbouti. Now every Somali quotes the lyrics in their letters home. A Somali will never forget his brother no matter how far abroad he must travel.

Ahmed 'Hudeydi' Ismail Hussein and family'Ambaroodka' is a love song which describes the beauty of a woman, especially her breasts and how she's built. It's a gorgeous song and I love singing it.

Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story





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