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Awards for World Music 2006
Ilham Al Madfai
'Ilham gave us a chance to taste the sweetness of life again,' writes a young Iraqi fan on the website. The comment neatly encapsulates Ilham Al Madfai's extraordinary significance. From the moment he picked up a guitar and formed The Twisters, the Middle East's first rock'n'roll combo, back in 1960s Baghdad, this maverick Arabic musician has been giving his peers reasons to dance, to dream, to keep struggling and to 'taste the sweetness'.

Ilham's own struggle has been fierce and intense. First he had to do battle with the expectations of his wealthy family, who decried his choice of a 'socially inappropriate' career. Then he had to fight against the combined might of the Iraqi media and the guardians of Arabic music's classical purity, who were shocked by his use of electric guitars, drums, bass, piano and other alien intrusions. Leaving his Baghdad home, under the pretext of pursuing architectural studies, Ilham had to struggle with loneliness and exile in the headwhirl of swinging London, where he hung out at the Baghdad Café with the likes of Paul McCartney, Donovan and Georgie Fame. All the while he was bringing the recondite wonders of Arabic music to the attention of a whole new generation of fans.

The struggling eased when Ilham returned home to Baghdad in 1967 and formed a new band, 13 1/2. He began to blend other flavours, such as flamenco, with the time-honoured motifs of Iraqi folklore and Arabic taarab and for a short time during the glory years of the 1970s, when life in Iraq was relatively stable and plentiful, Ilham became the most popular musician in the country. But it couldn't last. In 1979 he left again and wandered for more than a decade before returning to form another group, Firqat Ilham, which continued to work on his signature blend of eastern and western influences. More recently, an eponymous album was released on Virgin / EMI and went platinum on its way to becoming one of the most popular Arabic music releases in recent decades. Ilham's songs seem to provoke realisation and bring solace in equal measure. Whilst he has been building bridges between previously alien musical cultures, his music has itself acted as a bridge over troubled waters for millions of fans in Iraq and the wider Arabic diaspora.

Ivan Chrysler

Official website
Hear Ilham's concert at WOMAD 2005
Guardian interview


Maise - Jordan
Ilham you are totally the best of all ever! with your unique extremly beautiful songs. your voice is so beautiful.. i don't know what else to say just to express how amazing you and your talent are :) Iraq is proud of you, and Jordan is so happy to have you .. always will be your fan.. =) thanks for the lovely music.. :)

Nadine, Syria
ilham came to syria and i could not see him in concert. this is one of my deepest regrets. please visit aleppo, ilham!!!!!!!!!!1

Selma Malik California, Los Angeles
I think your music is extremely unique and awesome!!! we want more!!!

Hamid- Tehran, Iran
We love Ilham ALMadfi and especially the "Chal Chal Alayea al Rumman" song...maybe becuase I relate to it. Since my wife's name is Rumman(pomegranate) and AlMadafai sings of how the pomegranate tree has engulfed him. I also feel I am engulfed by my wife at times :)


Mohammed from Baghdad
he's a great man and a fortune that can't be described

Nula Holland
i like his style of music latin arabic thats cool

magdi / Los Angeles-California
i love his voice and the way he sings,he reminds me of jordan,i've been in his concerts many times

john, usa
good stuf this iraqi music

Shehed Texas
I am really good friends with Ilham and he is really an amazing man with amazing music that keeps us Iraqis going

i love ilham when my age is 12 years old. ilham is very wondeful in the music and specially the quiet music. i hope to ilham the succed and tne development in his life.

Nada Hammude- Canada
I am thankfull everyday to the person who first introduced me to Ilham's music. I would love to see him perform live...His voice soulfull, his music and lyrics are timeless classics! a true musical genius.

Please BBC Radio3, nominate him for best Middle Eastern Music for World Music Awards 2007, he's the best there ever was and is. Mr Madfai, we wish you continuos success and creativity

Fahazzle Holland(Amsterdam)
A great person..i saw him in bagdad once

Alexander Isaac / USA

Nadia, California
Ilham..has been the source of inspiration for all immigrants from Iraq. Elham...please keep us going with your unique music

great passionate & sad but reassuring voice,iknew ilham for a very long time, a very nice genuine man, deserves all the popularity and love of all his fans

Dee, Capetown - S.Africa
No other musician's come close to releasing such great music. Magical, pure and simple

I like to mention here that Ilham never written or composed any of these sings he's been singing for 40 years, probably only ' Khitaar' was picked by him from a book. He did different arrangement on them but I like his commitment & dedication to music.

He is great, he did so much for the iraqu music by singing the old songs to the youth with new instrument, somg that if not for him will die and the peeople of iraq will forget.

Nada, Canada
I am thankfull everyday to the person who first introduced me to Ilham's music. Would love to see him perform live...His voice soulfull, his music and lyrics are timeless classics! a true musical genius.

rubi hadad from california usa
wow i love his voice his style his soul i can feel his soul through his beautiful voice he is one of akind god bless him

Aveen Al-Khattat - Iraqian from Jordan
Ilham presented Iraqi traditional music to young people in a very intelligent way... he used Jazz and Rock which our ears accpt more than traditional music... this is AWSOME!!

Du Manu, Manchester

zack from belgium
i think it’s great that Elham Elmadfei was nominated for middle east music and souad massi too. but souad massi is only algerian singer in algerian style of music. Elham is more middle east mix with other music west influences. two different styl music, two different musicians. soaud is african/rai algerian jazz & blues, elham is more iraqi & middle eastern folk jazz music he reinvented. he should win just middle east, very respected by many peoples

please more music, more public appearances, more interviews

Maya Tanoury| France
His CDs are fab, his performances are just unreal, no one can carrry a tune diffently with panache and spontanuity. he just keep getting better and better

Yasser Neale/ London
If anyone wants to know aboutthis great man's music, you only need to see him live. man's a genius

Ehab Baghdad Iraq
Ilham is our father and our ambassader outside of Iraq, and who can represent the country's music better than Ilham AlMadfai. you are in our harts and your music in our spirits

Orhan, Istanbul, Turkey
your music is very soothing and can take the imagination to unlimited territories. it's nostalgia plus a sense of familiarity in both your voice and music that I could identify with. Iraqi folk music is similar to turkish, kurdish, gypsy, armenian, persian, mid east and most countries of the black sea. the closest music i can compare it to is jazz & gypsy music for it's upbeat mixture

Dunya from Syria
i respact your music and have much admirasion for you. Elham Almadfay make great music for many years and very famous and respect in all Middle East

Cyrus Pasha,Washington D.C
luv your style, so chilled, alsmost makes us think its too easy to re-compose old folklore tunes. good luck

James Toronto
i love his music, so pure and unspoilt

Mike Laidlaw Kent
distinguished musician, exceptionally artistic with a voice that speaks all volumes to all cultures. deserves the public award every year

musician wih a passion for soulful music, very hard to find artists like that now. I am from Poland and think his music is very similar to polish and eastern european music in style. his musci also covers latin, world and mostly folklore jazz. i would love to see him live in poland

Grang from Denmark
Your the man Ilham. We salute you for your music and your singing style.good luck to you man

Mike, Ireland
chal chal lyrics are available on Ilham's website under lyrics & music Great stuff

Paul Sanchez
Ilham elmadfe keeps us on the edge of our seat with his music. Not knowing what style he'll be delivering with every song, and when we finally listen to the full version of each one, we can't help but scream out for MORE. That is certainly true when I saw him in concert last year, it was an experience I haven't stopped talking about. He's so cool on stage, he makes all the great jazz musicians of 20th & 21st century look like 1st year music amateurs. Best of luck, hope you win

wassim, (usa)
greetings all, im trying to get chal chal -lyrics but cant find a website

Richard, liverpool
Music to suit every generation and people with great taste in colourful songs. Brilliant, loved his CD

Chris from Germany
Superb, one of the best jazz fuion musician of modern times

i love him so much cos i think his music is presents the iraq

Joseph Hanna

Best artist in the region. We all hope he receives this award, fingers crossed

Javier, Uruguay
Music, Music & more music comes out of Illam Madfe's album, delicios and widely diverse in music style. One minute it latin, then it's middle eastern merged with so many instruments. Very gifted

Leonard Sands, NZL/SYR
Ilham Al Madfai puts into music all that is not spoken and rarely known about outside the Arab World! Thoughts and feels of home and family that you forgot about, the aroma and the sense of a majestic culture all come into your throat and eyes. Ilham Al Madfai has given me a second connection to the Arab world...

Wes from Rome
Respected artist, fine fusion jazz musician. Seen him @ WOMAD 2005. GREAT voice and band Deserves the award this year

Bader Ahmed, Kuwait
Ilham resurrects the elementary human emotions that we often lose amid the bustle of our day-to-day lives. At the end of the day, it is not Ilham expressing himself through his music; it is us who are expressing ourselves through his voice and tunes. Yours, Ilham, is the voice of the unspoiled human. Can't wait to see you in Kuwait.

Faith Enzo Luca, New Zealand
The master of contemporary fusion jazz music, talented, versatile musican, totally dedicated to his profession and most of all he makes old tunes sound FANTASTIC. Hope you win Ilham Al Madfai

Rabih Ghally - Tunisia
Ilham voice has a natural gift of adding soul flavor to his diverse musical arrangements. he's the Middle East's version of Buena Vista Social Club, perhaps Wim Wenders should make a movie about Ilham's longstanding career and music. If the world fell unexpectedly in love with Latin music in the late 90's, middle eastern music will take the 21st century by surprise, thanks to many distinguished artist like Ilham Almadfae. hope you win the award

Victoria Jones - Cardiff (UK)
Purely unadulterated class. Ilham almadfaei's music is lyricaly middle eastern, rythmicaly western & eastern fusion and modestly stylish in musical arrangement. Fantastic

Daoud , Brussels
Congratulations on being nominated, you should be nominated every year for the awards. Your music is an artform, your singing and playing style is devine and your presence is positively inspiring. Certainly the only jazz musician to come out of Iraq and successfully combines the old rhythms with new and alluring tunes.

Alan Hawkins, London
A diamond in the making, the best music to come out of Tigris & Euphrates for a long time. He makes the younger genration listen to music that their grandparents used to listen to in the early to mid part of 20th century. Who would have thought that old folklore songs can sound so sexy to so many Iraqis of different backgrounds, living all over the world. This is cultural education to many of us who're benevolent to Middle Eastern societies.

Mohamed Wassim, NY
Mr AlMadfai, please more of your music in Europe and US. An exceptional distinguished artist and a generous human being. Had the honor of meeting him in Paris last year and his music took my breath away. He's laid back style of playing the most complicated songs in Iraqi folklore music seemed flawless and effortless to the audience. It must've taken him years to perfect his playing method. Hats to you Mr Al Madfai, we're proud of you.

Falah Juma- Kenya
Iraq is proud of you Iraq is voting for you We wish you many successful years to come Ilham

Donya Kamal, Iraqi living in Beirut
The "Mawtini" song (my land) must be a pinnacle in any artist creation. It's the icing on the cake in Ilham Al Madfai's many magnificent songs. It has to be the best song ever re-mastered and re-created, even though the original musical piece was excellently arranged. The rest of his songs are all equally exceptional. non of the empty, restless pop tunes the music industry is throwing at our TV screens today. Good luck Ilham Al madfai in the nominations

Laith Yasser - Kuwait
The everlasting sound of Iraq, musically, lyrically and spiritually - Ilham Al Madfai

Dafid Reese - Norway
Simply beautifully and deliciously composed musical masterpieces from Iraq's finest spanish guitarist & artist. He's a genius for remastering most of the popular Iraqi folklore songs of the 20th century. The reward should go to you for simply reviving the old music and bringing it back to life for every genration to enjoy. Best of luck Ilham, we're all backing you

Sargon, USA
Ilham's peek was when he has his Band 13 & 1/2. Also its peek was when Ilham had the musicians Manoo, Edward & Ben around late 60's to 1973. I remember al-Mat'am Rest. and Shahryar Rest at the head of the Army Canal Road. Nights there then were magical and romantic. Iraqi music then was influenced heavily by Armenian & Chaldean music, however, since the rise of fundamental religion,iraqi christians left to get peace in the west and iraqi culture changed backward. Hopefully peace will bring iraqis from exile back. I really miss those days after 30 years in exile. I still dream.

Ebrahim Ebrahim, Bahrain
Just Extraordinary. It is nice to have two of the current best artists of the Arabic world come out from Iraq (Kadeem Al-Saheer). Must be part of any music library.

Chad and Yasar,Jordan
Ilham a ture love story

Riad Mahmoud Madrid ,Spain
Probably am one of the very early and lucky Guitarists who had the pleasure and honor of playing with Ilham from the early days in Baghdad .This man is good. I say to him keep up the good work, we are all proud of you

Emad Noah - Basra/Iraq
Ilham speaks Iraq's soul. New musical sounds of folklore songs that have been passed down from generation to generation. He made last centuries music fashionable again. Iraq is always proud of you

David Curmi - Malta
An outstanding musician. Ry Cooder should look him up and do what he did with Buena Vista!

Will from France
Exquisite voice and perfectly composed music to suit every taste. There's very little quality music out there nowadays and Ilham modestly and effortlessly enjoys his songs to make you enjoy it with him. He's a professional at heart and a born musician by nature. Best of luck to Ilham... You should win BBC3 World Music Award 2006 Williem - France

Panos - Greece
One of the best contemporary jazz artist to come out of Iraq yet. There's so much human emotions in his music. His voice has endured many years of hardship it would seem, and that's what makes him a distinguished singer & virtuoso in the music business. I hope he wins the award .. and if he doesn't he will always be the top in providing quality music that is deep rooted in people's hearts.

Balsam from Canada
I Like Ilham and all his songs. He is the pillar of the iraqi folkloric songs. He made them revive in a new shape and a very attractive melody for the new genreation. Thank you, Ilham for all what you've done and continue to do for the iraqi music and the world music in general.

George Shamma, Mosul-Iraq
The great Ilham Al Madfai deserves many international music awards for his outstanding inspiring music. He's been composing, writting, producing and singing the old folklore Iraqi songs ever since anyone can remember. His reputation as an artist surpasses him and his music speaks for itself for those who're familiar with the old Euphrates-Tigris tunes. There's not enough words to describe his ingenious restoration of folklore songs. Adding world musical flavours along the way with his effortlessly breathtaking spanish guitar strokes and his band perform an equally brilliant job. Good luck to you Ilham, you deserve the accolade

natalia san diego
2 words THE BEST!

Yasmin Jafar - Baghdad
Iraq is proud of you Ilham. Ilham AlMadfai is a legend in and outside of Iraq, now more than ever. He's a symbol of unity, hope and wisdom. "Mawtini" is our song and your song. It shall be this way no matter what the circumstances are in Iraq. Al Madfai deserves all the music trophies and awards in all the world. We will vote for you always

Leila - Toronto
Faith in his music has never left Ilham's mind all those years, as he clearly illustrates in every song. He revives old folklore songs and revives them again. His music speaks all languages and dialects and envolves human emotions and humanity. Inside and outside Iraq has grown up listening to every song he sings to his international audience, they evoke the senses and bring back mixed memories, near and far. If anyone wants to know what world fusion music is like, this is it.. In my opinion "you can't perfect perfection"

Ara Nubar, Baghdad-Iraq
irfa3 ras el iraqis mate!!! we (all the iraqis) will vote for you ilham... wish you all the best

Wasan, Sweden
I salute you, Ilham! Your music nourished the old Iraqi songs which otherwise would have remained unknown and unpopular for the new generation.

Zeina - Baghdad/Iraq
I give my vote to great Ilahm Al Madfai cause he really deserve it. wish him all luck.

Sam, NY
The Grndaddy of all Arabic soul music, has been in the business for more than 4 decades & been a success in his country and now worldwide Nothing compares to his live performance, mild mannered Jazz and Blues with a twist of Iraqi folk Fantastic

Felix Khan - Koln in Germany
Great music, respected artist.

He is great,He tried and still trying to renew the Iraqi foloklor in a new musical distribution without loosing the valu of the original tune or melody.

Ahmed Zaki
Ilham is one of the greatest singers and we Iraqis are very proud of him, wish him all the best and inshalla he wins, Go Ilham GOOOOO!!!

Joseph Bihnam,
He’s the plastic surgeon who transformed an aging Iraqi music from its classical form that had very limited audience within the Arabic world to a more jazzy form that attracted many younger listeners from all around the Arab world to say the least, not knowing that many of his songs were written decades ago. He reinforced the Iraqi tradition in the crazy world we live in today.

Makram Murad-al-shaikh - California
We grew with this fine artist. We love what he did to the Iraqi folkloric songs. He is a true legend of the Iraqi culture.

Nazar ALMallak - Canada
I think that Ilham ALMadfi, has an amazing voice , and because of him ,he brought back and revived the old Iraqi classicel songs and mixed east and west melodies which can be heard any time.

Lance de Veille- Hertfordshire
The father of all Iraqi folklore music. A long lasting legend, with a voice and mastered talent that exceeds any artist in the Middle East. Ilham's musical composition speaks for itself and the rythmic style he follows is versatile and moving, in that he turns old songs into refreshingly new sounds. Ilham is a musical Genius, definitely deserves World Music awards for ME music 2006.

Hira Biswas, Maryland, USA
Simply wonderful;evokes nostagia

Dergham Owainati
He's really unique, and he's created a legendary sound... he deserves a place in the history of rock n' roll.

samr from holland
he is great

Sasha Knowles, Dublin
Simply a legend of Mid Eastern & Western style fusion music. When it comes to preserving Iraqi folklore music and mixing it with western jazz & blues, Ilham Al Madfai is the best there is. No other artist in the region has managed to come close to his musical arrangements. His recorded music and live performances are breathtakingly rythmic. The closest comparison to his musical style is the Latin sensation Carlos Santana and Buena Vista Social Club. Ilham Al Madfai - Highly recommended

Rene Houit - Holland
I have seen Ilham recently perform in Europe and UK. His style of music is reminiscent of classic latin/ spanish jazz cafe, soothing and lyrical to any listener, even if you don't understand what he's saying. I've rushed out and bought all his CD's in the shops even though they're not widely available in Holland, I got them from music websites. We hope to see more of Ilham in the near future.

Ula Tobin, Oxfordshire
Ilham is simply the Godfather of arabic soul music. In years to come this man soulful music & voice will be compaired to the Legendary Louis Armstrong. Ilham's music was born to revive and inspire nostalgia in the human soul - optimistic and always youthful. I guarantee that anyone who enjoys rhythm will love Ilham's style.

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