Posts

Mohamed Said ZainEldeen: Fragments in the Life of an Early Columbia Records' Tenor

Image
Mohamed Said ZainEldeen:  Fragments in the Life of an Early Columbia Records' Tenor



There are several early-period Arab American musicians for whom we have so little information we can hardly compose a narrative that provides anything other than the most basic biographical information. Walim Kamel and Zakia Agob are among them. For others, we have slightly more, but still incomplete information. The tenorM. ZainEldeenstands out as one.

We've long had one M. ZainEldeen 78 RPM record and most recently, after we undertook piecing together scraps of his biographical information, we acquired another. As usual, we scoured over immigration documents, U.S. Census data, city directories, and three-quarters of the way through, we located and corresponded with surviving relatives - here's what we found.  Mohamed ZainEldeen was born 1 November 1892 in Homs, Syria. Originally, his name was Zain Eldeen, but his Declaration of Intention for US Naturalization notes that he was also known a…

Emil Kasses: From the Tip of Florida All the Way Up to Canada and Various Haflis and Mahrajans Along the Way

Image
Emil Kasses: From the Tip of Florida All the Way Up to Canada and Various Haflis and Mahrajans Along the Way


Some of the best known, first generation US-born, Arab American musicians of the 78 RPM era included the likes of Anton Abdelahad and Eddie Kochak. Both these musicians rose to prominence in the 1940s and 1950s – Abdelahad on his self-titled record label and Kochak on Nilephon Records- and both became extremely popular on the hafli and mahrajan circuits in the 1950s and 1960s. Emil Kasses (Kassis or Kassas) stands out as one of their less well-remembered, yet equally talented peers, whose career spanned from the 1940s well into the 1990s. Despite Emil’s popularity among Arab Americans of multiple generations, his 78 RPM disc are rare, although not considered valuable. That we can document, Kassas recorded two songs on four sides of his personal Emil Kasses record label #251 A-B “Mo’Attar Ya Joz Ittinein” and #252 A-B “In Albaraya” with Philip Solomon. He likely recorded as an un…

George N. Gorayeb: The Incomplete Story of the Sunset Film Corporation and Arabphon Records

Image
George N. Gorayeb: The Incomplete Story of the Sunset Film Corporation and Arabphon Records


Back in May 2016, long before the creation of Midwest Mahjar, a fellow 78 RPM record collector and I discussed the little we knew about Alamphon Records, Farid Alam’s record label that is as commonly found by 78 RPM collectors of Arab American music as the notorious “red-label Columbia” records are to any person whose searched through crates or boxes of 78 RPM records in general. I closed the conversation by writing to the other collector, “Let me know if you ever come across any information about Arabphon.” He assured me he would and that was the end of the conversation. We’ve never discussed Arabphon Records again.
Since striking 78 RPM Arabic record gold in November of 2015, I have acquired at least a two dozen records on the Arabphon label. When I asked other 78 RPM collectors, most interested in Arab American labels assured me that Arabphon was not a highly sought after label. It's dupli…