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Barry White Egyptian?

(, July 12, 2003)

Barry White passed away last week -- the world-renowned superstar's unbelievably deep baritone, a soul-rooted rumble which has been called the sexiest voice on earth, was perhaps more famous than the singer himself.

White had put on a series of concerts in Cairo back in October 1994, just as he was was making a major global comeback thanks to his new album The Icon is Love. founder Tarek Atia had interviewed White at the time for Al-Ahram Weekly, with the singer exclusively revealing that he thought his mother was Egyptian.

"My father's roots lead back to South Africa," he had said. "He was a Zulu warrior who wandered into Egypt and found this beautiful black Egyptian girl. They created two sons... and one was named Barry White."

Although the tale sounded somewhat mythical, White told Atia that he truly believed it, as he had ever since his aunts and grandmothers told him the story when he was a little boy. "Egypt holds spiritual things for me, very deep things, things that are very sacred," he said.

White had plenty of Egyptian fans, as was evident at the sold out series of concerts that took place that year. His love for Egypt, meanwhile, and the spiritual connection he felt for it, mirrored the sentiment expressed by many African Americans for Egypt.

His recent passing is sad, of course, but we can all take comfort in the fact that his giant disco grooves and sexy love songs will live on. "My music is all about love," White told Atia back then. "People coming together, staying with each other, growing with each other. Making a commitment and keeping it."

Photographs courtesy Mohamed Lotfy, Al-Ahram



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