Saudi singer Abdul Majeed Abdullah delivered a soul-stirring performance on Saudi Minister of Culture Badr bin Farhan Al Saud's Instagram on Saturday.
Beginning with his hit song Ahibbak Lei Ana Madri, Abdullah lived up to his Prince of Tarab moniker, performing for an uninterrupted two hours on the minister's Instagram page as part of his newly launched Badr's Guest series.
The performance has been viewed more than 100,000 times since it premiered on Saturday night.
Born in Jeddah in 1962, Abdullah is one of the region's most popular performers. He began his musical career at an early age after being discovered by his mentor Ibrahim Sultan, who accompanied the young singer to Jeddah. There, Abdullah began performing at a local radio station, singing songs by Abdel Halim Hafez and Sherifa Fadel.
Abdullah performed his first concert at the age of 13 at Jeddah's Ittihad Club. He then began collaborating with several of the kingdom's composers, recording a number of songs for television, including Habaib Waqt Ma Yebghu.
Soon after, he was introduced to the composer Sami Ihsan, who in 1979 took the young Abdullah to Cairo with the aim of recording a few songs together. The trip marked Abdullah's first travel outside Saudi Arabia.
The duo recorded four songs, including AlSabr Miftah AlFaraj and Bareq Al Thaghar. However, as the songs were released in a compilation tape along with the music of the legendary Saudi musician Talal Maddah, Abdullah's works did not get their due attention. Undeterred, Abdullah traveled with Ihsan to Cairo again in 1984, recording several songs including his breakout track Sayed Ahli, which he performed that same year on the Saudi Channel.
The next leap in his artistic career came when he was chosen by a Saudi radio channel as one of the kingdom’s most promising young voices. The accolade soon led him to cross paths with music professor Gamal Maradani, who taught him how to read sheet music.
The next phase in Abdullah's career came when he began collaborating with the Bahraini composer Khaled Al Sheikh, who wrote for him a number of songs that brought him regional attention, including Arja' Bilsalama and Saken elQalb.
Abdullah soon began composing songs himself. The first of his compositions A'jabak was released in 1996 and featured lyrics by Mohammad Alqarni.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Abdullah began working with the Saudi composer Saleh Al Shehri, their best-known songs are Raheeb and Khafif Al Dam.
Over the past 20 years, Abdullah has collaborated with some of the Gulf's most prominent composers and lyricists, skyrocketing him to success and making him a regular at several regional and international music festivals. He was honoured with a star on the Dubai Walk of Fame in 2019. In 2020, he was among a dozen Saudi artists featured in the national song Salam from Saudi Arabia.
Though Abdullah may have swapped the bustling concert halls for a makeshift living room stage for now, at the end of his performance he did say how he was eagerly waiting to interact with his fans in a live setting again. Setting his oud aside, he thanked his listeners as well as the minister of culture, adding: “I hope we get to do this again in better circumstances.”