Arab singer

Warda, whose sultry voice and range helped make her one of the giants of Arab song, died May 17 in Cairo after a heart attack. She was believed to be 72.

Egypt’s state-owned MENA news agency reported the death.

Along with Lebanon’s Fayrouz and Egypt’s late Umm Kalthoum, Warda was one of the legendary singers of the Arab world, with a voice that has been described as both sweet and powerful.

She lived in Egypt on and off for more than 40 years, and it was in Egypt that she earned cinematic and singing breakthroughs that won her fame across the Middle East. She had at least five lead roles in Egyptian films and about 300 songs to her name.

Warda Aldjazairia, or the Algerian Rose, was born near Paris to an Algerian father and Lebanese mother, according to her Web site. She began singing as a little girl, gaining a following among Arab children in France through her songs broadcast on local radio.

She traveled to Algeria for the first time in 1962, after the country gained independence from its French colonial rulers. She married an Algerian and quit singing for 10 years. After moving to Cairo, at the time the heart of the Arab cultural and artistic scene, she had her big break in the late 1970s with the hit “My Times Are Sweeter With You.”

She frequently worked with Egypt’s and the broader Arab world’s best-known composers and married one — Baligh Hamdy. They formed a formidable team, even after their divorce, making some of the most memorable Arab love songs, including “Stay Here, Stay” and “Listen To Me.”

Warda sang in all Arab dialects, and although better known for her love songs, she also sang nationalistic songs for Algeria and the larger Arab world.

She was introduced to a wider audience in Egypt when she took part in a Pan-Arab song in 1960 called “The Greater Nation” written under Egypt’s charismatic president, Gamal Abdel-Nasser. In the song, she sang the part about Algeria, earning her the moniker Aldjazairia, or the Algerian.

Warda had a liver transplant 10 years ago, which forced her to give up performing for a number of years.

Doug Dillard
banjo player

Doug Dillard, an influential banjo player who helped shape rock-and-roll and introduce the nation to bluegrass music during a popular run on “The Andy Griffith Show,” died May 16 in Nashville. He was 75.

Lynne Robin Green, president of Mr. Dillard’s publishing company, said he died from a lung infection.

Mr. Dillard, a founding member of his family band, the Dillards, out of Salem, Mo., was influential in several ways. Mr. Dillard, his brother Rodney and two band mates moved west in 1962 rather than taking the usual route to Nashville.

They discovered the burgeoning folk scene in Southern California and helped inspire the country-rock movement. They were among the first to attempt to modernize bluegrass music, electrifying their instruments and experimenting with rock elements.

Mr. Dillard also helped introduce bluegrass to TV viewers as a member of the unusual family band the Darlings, who made multiple appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show” in the mid-1960s. He split with the band in the late ’60s and eventually began a solo career.

The Dillards were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2009. The group influenced and worked with key members of the Southern California rock scene who spread their ideas to bands such as the Eagles, the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

— From news services