These days Assyrian singers produce and distribute their own albums, but it wasn’t always this way. Assyrians as early as the late 1950s had established a number of music recording labels, those were mainly in Iraq and Iran, those production companies were responsible for signing new singers, producing and distributing their albums locally and internationally. As well as creating new original music and lyrics.
One of those record labels was “Caravan Music House” established in Baghdad Iraq, owned by the late William Nichola Dinkha, with financial partnership of Mr. Alfred M. Yonan.
William Dinkha was also a Composer and Accordionist; he was born in Hanaidi, near Baghdad. His family were settled in refugee camps in Baquba and Hanaidi after the events of WWI, and later relocated to Habbaniya, which was organized by the British Army and then into Assyrian Levies. His family left Habbaniya and permanently settled in Baghdad in 1949.
William had inherited the passion for music from his mother, which had a very mellow voice and would be singing Assyrian folk songs at home and to him as a child. He was also influenced by the old classic Assyrian melodies which he heard in weddings and dance parties. He studied music under an Italian professor Mr. Aldo who was teaching in an Institute of Music in Baghdad. It wasn’t long before William began composing his own melodies and writing lyrics.
Most of the songs produced previously were based on foreign compositions. William had the idea to produce original and authentic music, that was different from the other cultures in the region. He also wanted to have some tangible records to preserve our music heritage for future generation.
Soon after registering, he began looking for a studio band, and found a band called; Avshalim and Stars Band, later established another Studio band called Diamond Band.
He founded the Diamond Band which comprised of:
William Ablahad – Guitar
Ashor V. Nona – Violin
Moshi Youkhannan – Clarinet
George Henry – Drums
William Nicola ( Dinkha) – Composer/Accordionist.
(with Avshalim and Stars Band)
The first album, comprising a set of four songs was produced with the Avshalim and Stars Band and released sometime between 1958-60. These songs were performed by the late singer Yacoub Nona and are listed below:
In the second album, the music was played by Diamond Band and songs were performed by the respective singers shown below:
Taneelee: Yacoub Nona
Khooba Shilya: Awimalk Haider*
Khabooshe Smooqeh: Yacoub Nona
Halleh Libakh: Yacoub Nona
Khooba Shilya: Awimalk Haider
This record was an EP (Extended Play) featuring two singers, with two songs each, they were; Sargon Norman and Roosevelt Shaul:
Aha Douniye Khleeta: Roosevelt Shaul
Qarbin Kisli: Roosevelt Shaul
Sheerin Sheerin: Sargon Norman
Bulbuli Sourta: Sargon Norman
Audio sample from Sargon Norman and Roosevelt Shaul
He also released a fourth record for Awrahim Gewargis, featuring two Assyrian songs (no photo of the singer has been located):
1) Asmara 2) Shemo Teleh El Bali (audio sample).
Caravan also released non-Assyrian records, such as this example by the late Kurdish singer from Iraq, Jamal Jalal. A well known composer and singer. Standing on the right and being awarded a medal of excellence and Merit by the Minister of Culture and Youth in Erbil few years before his passing. And standing on the left (in the photo) is the Assyrian and kurdish singer Andrews Khamo Bakuri.
Sadly William Dinkha’s Caravan label didn’t last long, he migrated to England in 1962, and passed away in 2013 in Canada. Mr. William had a great passion for music and hoped to preserve some aspects of our music heritage. These records by Caravan label are what I with the help of few friends have been able to locate so far. perhaps there are few more out-there still to be found.
Caravan Music House – Baghdad – Written by Moneer Cherie for Qeenatha.com