Joamar Elmaghribi – Istikhbar Sahli & Rani Nestana Fik – Philips, c. 1954-1956

Just prior to Moroccan independence in 1956, a Jewish vocalist by the stage name of Joamar Elmaghribi recorded at least seven records––six in Arabic and one in Hebrew––for the Philips label in Morocco. Approximately a decade later and now resident in Israel, Jo Amar, the internationally acclaimed artist, would hold the honor of being the first Moroccan to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Of course, before the world knew him as Jo Amar, Moroccans had known him as Joamar Elmaghribi. Unfortunately, the remarkable journey of Jo Amar has been mostly unmoored from its Moroccan point of origin. But it was there, in the Maghrib, that Amar first got his musical bearings, developed his signature voice, and launched his career in the recording industry. At Philips, he joined other Moroccan Jewish artists including the veteran Zohra El Fassia (a major influence on Amar) and the relative newcomer Lili Mamane El Maghribi.

Jo Amar - Rani Nestana Fik - Philips

Like almost all of Amar’s earliest recordings, Rani Nestana Fik (I’m waiting for you), released on Philips sometime between 1954 and 1956, was animated by the virtuosic Moroccan Jewish accordionist “Sam.”[1] In similar fashion, Jo Amar’s rather unique take on the mawwal, his signature vocal melissma with a Spanish lilt which would pepper his later Hebrew-language hits like Shir hasShikor (The Drunkard’s Song), emerged in Morocco before migrating with him to Israel.


Finally, it should be noted that Amar continued to record a variety of Moroccan and Algerian music on 78 rpm in Israel under the name Joamar Elmaghribi (usually rendered Joe Amar Moghrabi) for the label initially known as Sacchiphon, soon after R. Zaky, and eventually Zakiphon. Among the first Joamar Elmaghribi records either re-recorded for or re-released by Zakiphon for the burgeoning Moroccan population was appropriately Rani Nestana Fik. Much as he was waiting for his audience, his audience was waiting for him.

Notes
Label: Philips
Titles: Istikhbar Sahli [Side 1] and Rani Nestana Fik [Side 2]
Artist: Joamar Elmaghribi [Jo Amar]
Issue Number: 78.125 H
Matrix Number: 243-A [Side 1] and 244-B [Side 2]
Date of Pressing: c. 1954-1956

[1] One has to wonder whether the accordionist Sam is perhaps Sami Amar, Jo Amar’s brother.

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