Google Doodle celebrates Sudanese composer and oud player Asma Hamza

Ahram Online , Monday 17 Jul 2023

Google search engine features late Sudanese musician Asma Hamza celebrating anniversary of her winning the Laylat AlQadr AlKubra music competition in Sudan.

Asma Hamza


According to Google's description on 17 July, "On this day in 1997, Asma was among the winners of the Laylat AlQadr AlKubra music competition in Sudan. This win was a turning point in her career and helped her gain recognition in a male-dominated field."

Considered the first female composer in Sudan, Hamza was born in 1932 and loved music while growing up, dreaming of becoming a singer. However, her vocal cords were not equipped to handle singing safely, so she switched to whistling the tunes instead. When her father heard her whistle in harmony, he borrowed an oud (similar to a lute but with a thinner neck and no frets) so Asma could practice.

Despite the fact that it was not socially acceptable for women to practice music in Sudan during her time, her father encouraged her interest in music. In fact, the whole family enjoyed singing and was fond of music.

Hamza did not like her own voice and directed her interests towards playing the oud, which her father purchased for her. Surrounded by musicians who often visited her family home, including Ahmed Mustafa, Osman Hussein, Hassan Attia, and Abdel Aziz Mohamed Daoud, Hamza started by playing the oud while listening to other performers and copying their strokes by ear. As she began mastering the instrument, she soon became the very first Sudanese woman with formal training on the oud, which she received in response to her perseverance.

As she started carving her own place in Sudan's music scene, she performed in small gatherings, followed by bigger stages. She often used lyrics by renowned poets, leading to compositions that were then performed by renowned singers. Her melodies resonate with many people in Sudan and across the Arab world.

On 17 July 1997, Hamza was announced as one of the winners of the Laylat AlQadr AlKubra song competition held in Sudan, standing among many male musicians. This win is considered an important turning point in her career.

Hamza passed away on 21 May 2018.

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