It's true the man who has shaped Arabic music for the past 30 years did not come from Lebanon nor Egypt...but Libya, the country that has never been known as a hub for music. In all fairness Hamid is half Egyptian and he has made it his second home.
Hamid El Shari (nickname Cabo) is a legend, I do not think there is any living Arab musician who has had more influence on shaping music of Arabia as much as he did. Hamid's work made Arabic music appeal to the masses.
The man who sang, acted, and wrote music is still alive and well (he just survived a mild heart attack) His biggest contribution is making Arabic music relevant, giving it a new life of sort. Hamid took Arabic music from being enjoyed only by uptight and older intellects, into cool and catchy muse enjoyed equally by almost everyone. His biggest influence on the music of his generation is fusing Arabic (Eastern) music with hip and trendy Western music in a happy marriage.
Hamid wrote music for Amr Diab, Amr Mostafa, Ehab Tawfik to name few. His musical collaboration and his cassette production savvy made them the mega star they have become. He also helped make a dozen of other Arab stars in his unrivaled talent in arrangement of music that has done wonders.
Ever since I was old enough to know that I liked music, he was there making it better. Here is a bit about his background. Hamid El Shari went to school in Britain to study aviation. In Libya he was part of a radio band with limited success. Upon moving to Egypt he was part of a band, but when he tried to test the appeal of his music his first album failed horribly as people were not sure what to make of his style of musical arrangement. That was the early 80s, the people were just coming out of the golden generation of 70s where many Arab legend were shaped back then (Abedel Haleem, Om Kalthom, Fairouz, shadia...etc) But nothing before has prepared them for what about to hit Arabic music.
Hamid was good sport about his early failure and he kept on trying to make his music pleasant to ear by working on his craft. The album that established him as serious musician was Rahell as it was a smashing success in the mid 80s and with it Hamid started feeling the love of the masses with Habeebah, a bold song for its time. Now, singers started knocking his door not only for his voice by for his gift of arranging music and making pop songs better. With that it was the birth of the Arabic pop, never before has Arabic music been redefined.
Perhaps Hamid's early affection with musical instrument was the drive behind his innovation on Arabic music. Hamid transformed Arabic music in the late 80/90s and early 90s for the first time Arabic cassettes started crediting Hamid for his work on musical arrangement, something that has never been done before. Yes, his voice was never endorsed by many, but it's not nearly as bad as we see nowadays. His most guniees idea was in his "High Quality" series of mix tapes he put out for new stars. Those used to sell as fast as Eid cookies do on the night before the Eid.
He had a number of duets that were smashing success "'Ainy" with Hisham Abbas, "Ghazaly" with Moustafa Amar. "Hala 'Alyk" also with Hisham Abbas. Keep on mind those songs were iconic for their time and were played over and over for years radio stations, parties and weddings you name it.
Hamid also wrote music, mainly to Egyptian star Mohammad Mounier and few others. But that was not his best work. He hassn't been a huge box office success in cinema as he started in an acclaimed movie "Qishir Al Bonduq". The movie was loved by the critics, but few people went to see it. Hamid still makes a cameos in Egyptian movies, he usually sings (See video below)
His critics in his early days accused him to ruining the public taste, stealing (borrowing) from folklore perhaps their harshest criticism of him is his outfit. Hamid liked to show up for interviews and concerts in sport outfit, like the ones for the jogging fad. That was the 80s in Arabia not the 90s in America, so many were not sure what to make of his style of clothing.
His arch-rival is Hilmi Baker who advocates more traditional line of Arabic music and Hamid was rocking the boat with his new tunes. It's old school vs. new school. But no wonder Mr. Baker has also got himself with a number of other Arab singers (Asalah) for his bursts and flaming emotions. Hamid won the respect of Hilmi Baker when they both collaborated on the all time popular national song "Al hilm Alarabi" The Arabic Dream, a gigantic production. In fact you can spot both Hamid and Hilmi hugging each other in a sign that they have made up.
Hamid's latest album came in 2007 (Rooh Samarah) which met some good success. But he is still as cool as he once was in the 80s, hi is like the Arab version of Madonna and Michael Jackson. As of now he is busy sponsoring new talents and working to launch their careers by either singing with them or/and fine tuning their songs. Every now and then he puts out a new album with songs he voices with other young guns. He is anticipated to be released soon.
Here is a slideshow journey though history that reveals how major of a player Hamid was and is in Arabic music. If the Arab star was big in the 80s and the 90s, then for sure Hamid has collaborated with them and has helped them shine.
in 1987, this song made millions cry and remind them why they love their home countries. Hamid was there, he made the dream possible.
انا مهما كبرت - عمرو دياب + حميد الشاعري 87
Hameed Alshaery Alyun Alsod ام العيون السود ... حميد الشاعري
For more on Hamid, check out his Wikipedia page that have been a great help in writing this post