Om Kolthoom was born in a small rural village to a poor family.
Her father,al-Shaykh Ibrahim al-Sayyid al-Baltaji (d. 1932), was the imam of the local mosque, and her mother, Fatmah al-Maliji (d. 1947), was
a housewife. Her date of birth is not known for certain,but the most reliable suggestion is May 4, 1904, given on a page from the Daqahliyah provincial birth records for Tammay al-Zahayrah. Om Kolthoom 's mother cared for the children: Om Kolthoom , her sister, Sayyidah, about ten years older than Om Kolthoom , and her brother, Khalid, who was one year older. Om Kolthoom was her last child. She described her mother as a good woman who lived simply and taught her children the importance of truth, humility and trust in God.
When she was about five years old, Om Kolthoom entered the kuttab, or Qur'an school, in her village that her older brother Khalid attended.Om Kolthoom learned to sing from her father.When al-Shaykh Ibrahim discovered what she had learned and heard the unusual strength of her voice, he asked her to join the lessons. Om Kolthoom began performing in her own village at the house of the oumdah on an occasion when Khalid felt ill.
A number of people encouraged Om Kolthoom and her father to consider going to Cairo to further her career in the center of the entertainment business. The move was finally accomplished in about 1923
with the aid of musical mashayaikh from the city with whom Om Kolthoom and her father had established contact. They helped the young girl find performing opportunities and meet the theatrical agents who were essential to Following hints in the spring of 1926 that she should not succeed in the long run accompanied by her family, she hired accomplished and prestigious instrumentalists in their place.
Her repertory of religious qasa'id and tawashih gave way to new During the 1920s and 1930s, Om Kolthoom began to make commercial recordings and launched her life-long involvement with mass media, essential to her long and extensive popularity. Her commitments later expanded to include
radio, from the inception of Egyptian National Radio in 1934, films, which she began in 1935, and television in 1960. and sustaining a career in the entertainment world at the time.
Om Kolthoom 's musical directions in the 1940s and early 1950s and her mature performing style caused this period to be popularly called the "golden age" of Om Kolthoom .In 1946,personal problems thrust themselves on Om Kolthoom in such a way as to disrupt her professional activities for the first time in
her career. Questions about Om Kolthoom 's personal life, especially that of why she had never married,followed Om Kolthoom from the time she began her career in Cairo until she married Dr. Hasan al-Hifnawi in 1954. In the 1920s she was linked with a number of men,including poet Ahmad Rami. Her apparent strong will, sharp tongue and absence of any lasting close personal involvements prompted the assessment that "she has no heart.
Another that, "like Greta Garbo" she had been disappointed in love early in life and could not love another. Feeling the disappointment of the broken engagement and the burdens of medical problems,
Om Kolthoom agreed to marry a fellow musican,the oud player, composer and them vice-president of
the Musician's Union,Mahmud Sharif. The marriage was dissolved within days, regarded by both parties as a mistake, amid a tremendous outcry of protest from Om Kolthoom 's fans who attacked the character, personal status, and abilities of Mahmud Sharif.
"as if the man had not a single good quality." Finally Om Kolthoom married one of her doctors and
a long-time audience member, Dr. Hasan al-Hifnawi, in 1954.
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