With poised composure, traveling up and down the music scale is no feat for a voice like Oumeima El Khalil’s. Her distinct sound is instantly recognizable among her fans. You should know her from her famous folk songs Asfour or Ouhibouka Akthar.
Oumeima El-Khalil is a Lebanese singer who appreciates the uniqueness of classical Arabic music and sings the traditional language to illustrate and create images with her tunes.
Born in 1966, and growing up in a family who loves art and music, Oumeima has been singing since a very young age. She hails from a Bekaa Valley village called Fakiha, in the Baalbek-Hermel governorate.
When she moved to Beirut with her family, she enrolled in a program to study singing and music theory. Soon, she met the renowned Lebanese musician, Marcel Khalife.
With a unique voice unlike anything he’s heard, Oumeima caught the attention of renowned Lebanese musician, Marcel Khalife. It was when he discovered her, did her music career take off.
He selected Oumeima to be a soloist in Al-Mayadin Ensemble, a music group he formed in 1976. This was the running start and motivation in her professional career.
Oumeima said that her experience with Marcel did wonders to shape her personality and enrich her knowledge and culture. He was her mentor from the start and still stands by her side today.
In recent years, she and Marcel collaborated with the multi-award winning Lebanese acapella group Fayha Choir to release one of the most avant-garde pieces of musical work, the album SAWT.
This experimental work of art consists of Oumeima as the soloist, accompanied by the voices of members of the choir in the place of instruments.
Over the years, she sang the works of globally appreciated poets, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Talal Haider, and Henry Zugheib, and is often working with Palestinian poet Marwan Makhoul. Her voice has sung the tunes of freedom and peace, as well as those of loss and sadness.
In the past, she collaborated with pianist and composer Hani Siblini, who is now her husband.
According to Ahram Online, Hani’s “musical compositions gave Khalil’s songs a new tinge apparent in songs like Shab Wa Sabiyya-Ayyam, Darrat Al Qahwa, and Elt Bekteblak.”
Unlike the rich Arabic moodiness she offered by singing Marcel’s compositions of classical poetry, her music style with Hani took a jazzy/modern turn that shows off her wide range of singing capabilities.
She is open to trying new things, and likes exploring the world of music and pushing herself to discover a new aspect of her voice. This is why she enjoys working with emerging artists; she loves the new ideas they offer.
She is a treasure to the Lebanese music scene and to the Middle Eastern culture.