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Abe Messadi and the Arabic Recording Corporation Record Label

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Abe Messadi and the Arabic Recording Corporation Record Label Abraham "Abe" Messadi, c. 1934. Photograph courtesy of Wayne M.  Most of our posts have focused on popular Arab American musicians or well-known Arab American record labels. On occasion we’ve highlighted the stories of little-known or less popular musicians on popular labels or well-known musicians on less-common labels. In this case, we’re featuring a far less-common label and far less-discussed musician. The Arabic Recording Company, Inc. was a little-known 1940s record label which, according to one newspaper advertisement, operated out of its 107 Lorimer Street address in Brooklyn, New York. Its parent company was the New York Record Corporation, an obscure start-up record business that operated from 1946-1952 from the fourth floor of the same address. The New York Record Corp ran a few want ads for a “press operator” and a “packing and shipping clerk” in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1946, but more impr

M.S. Hawie: An Arab American Poet and Orator Makes a Prohibition Record in 1920

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M.S. Hawie: An Arab American Poet and Orator Makes a Prohibition Record in 1920 M.S. Hawie in the 1920s.  Courtesy of Elizabeth M. (Hawie's niece).  By 1920, over a half dozen immigrants from Greater Syria had recorded for Columbia Phonograph Company, and slightly under a dozen total had recorded for Victor or Columbia together. Whether Arabic music sold well for either of the big phonograph record giants remains unclear, however, by the 1920s, these companies began to record fewer and fewer Arab American and Arab immigrant musicians and independently-owned Arab American record labels like Maloof and Macksoud emerged in their place. M.S. Hawie stands out in Dick Spottswood’s Ethnic Music on Records and in UCSB’s Discography of American Historical Recordings database as one of a dozen early Arab Americans to record not a song, but recitation of a speech called “Goodbye Whiskey” on Columbia in 1920. The recitation, of course, was an ode, of sorts, to Congres

Zekia Agob: the scarcity of sources in documenting Arab America’s First Woman Recording Artist

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Zekia Agob: the scarcity of sources in documenting Arab America’s First Woman Recording Artist Photo of Zekia Agob Sheha in her late 50s. Photo courtesy of Barbara N.  One of the 78 rpm discs we acquired with our first batch of Arabic records back in November 2015, was Columbia E3601 "When Love Suppressed Me” or “Lamean Kanmut Elhood Part I and 2.” About two or three years later, we found and purchased Parts 3 & 4. Dick Spottswood’s encyclopedic discography Ethnic Music on Record lists her as only "Z. Agob," although the Arabic script translates to “Zakia Agob” or “Zekia Agob.” Zekia Agob is not only one of the most elusive singers we’ve attempted to write about; she is also one of the more historically important, as one of the the first Arab American woman to record at 78 rpm in the United States for any US label. Of course, recorded women singers and musicians in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria have a long and well-documented history. The Foundat