This article is mainly or partly translated from the Arabic Wikipedia
Mohammed Abdu (Arabic: محمد عبده; born June 12, 1949) is well-known Saudi singer all across the Middle East. He had been described as "The Artist of Arabs"."
Mohammed Abdu was born on June 12, 1949, in Abha the capital of Aseer province, some sources report that he was born in a small town called Aldarb in the Jaizan area. His father Abdou Othman Al-A'asiri was a poor fisherman in Tuhamat, Asir area who had six children with his wife Salma Nasr-Allah. Smallpox was epidemic in Arabia at that time, and almost all of their children died including a three-year-old 'Mohammed'. The couple vowed to name their next child in memory of him. After that sad incident, the family decided to move to Jeddah where the 'other' Mohammed was born. His father left his job as a fisherman and took a new one as a bricklayer. But, soon the father left them in 1953 after he fell ill, and dying before Mohammed could take his first steps.
As an orphan aged only 3, Mohammed went with his widowed mother and her other two siblings to an orphanage house called Ribat Abu-Zinadah; a Yemenite hostel for orphaned families. With the financial help of the soon to be crown prince Faisal, her children were accepted into one of the orphan-schools. Mohammed Abdou commented on the home saying "... I learned how to live and depend on myself." After his graduation from sixth-grade, he started taking many menial jobs: selling candy and mixed-nuts in the market, joining once as a temployer the general post-office working there as a collector, singing at weddings, and so on until he joined a vocational institute to make a living for himself and his family, moving with them to a new house with whatever little money he'd been given as a graduation prize by the time he'd finished.
In 1989, his mother died and Mohammed stopped singing altogether. It was one of the saddest moments in his entire life as he put it in more than one interview. She was the real love of his life and the one for whom Abdou sang and wanted to be a star after all the hard years that she had to go through when he was at the orphan school. Mohammed Abdou was so saddened by her death that he decided not to issue any more albums from 1989 until 1997.
After eight years, in 1997, he sang in a National Day celebration for Saudi audiences who were amazed at how his voice became more mature. His voice was marvelous and more tact. But, the arrangements were full of lush (strings, endless violin strings...), and the ever-hateful keyboard became the first and most audible musical 'non'-instrument in the orchestra that grew so much from a dozen or so players to 80-plus players. That year, he went to London to sing at three concerts with Warda Al-Jazairia and issued five albums the following three months to feed the demand for his voice in Arabia.
The next year saw his official comeback when he sang at the Abha Music Festival in 1998 issuing another mind-blowing three albums concurrently. Follow-up concerts in Qatar, Dubai, and Cairo were the much-needed efforts to put him back on the Arab music map.
The artist began his music career in the beginning of the sixties. He entered the world of singing at an early age, going from only a student at the Institute of industrial Jeddah which he graduated from in 1963. From then, he was taken on a mission to Italy for the shipbuilding industry. The flight changed from Rome to Beirut, from building ships to a music career.
Abdou's music was based on the older generation's ageless talents and songs of maybe a thousand years of heritage, but nevertheless, he was credited to at least preserving these songs called mawrouth (the inherited songs) without much change in their buildup or musical arrangements. His Chaabyat albums that he released through his label Voice of Al-Jazeerah in the 1990s were his attempt at documenting that old tradition. These jalsat (sittings) where were his talent has got best crystallized: his oud was this instrument for which he talked to almost spiritually, in a manner never seen elsewhere in any Arab singer other than Farid al-Atrash and Baligh Hamdi and Talal Maddah. In admiration, Abdou sang one of Baligh's compositions 'Sert Al-Houb' (Love Story) for Umm Kulthum on her 69th birthday.
His earliest songs that he used to sing were religious chants and anasheed (Islamic songs that are okay to sing), and reciting the Quran after prayer time, or in his school's celebrations. Students and teachers alike used to gather around him to hear him warble with these marvels at recess breaks, or whenever they were allowed. Fearing that he might quit school to follow a career as a singer, his mother asked him to sing only on invitation when the older singers were around, so that her son would stay a pupil to these established singers. His voice and oud playing overcame this fear when jaws dropped after he gave a rendition of an old Yemeni adwar (old songs of known Maqama) known for their almost impossibility for a young singer to master. These songs were old chants Yemeni singers sang and competed with each other to take each other to tarab.
From 1983 until 2009, Mohammed was married to Umm Abdul Rahman with whom he has seven children. In 2011, Mohammed married a French woman in Paris where he was recovering from a stroke.