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One of the most beloved Arab singers of every era and every century, undisputed queen of the post Umm Kulthum. The Lebanese legend marked the second part of the twentieth century with her suave voice, becoming a true symbol of Arabic music.
Fairouz was born in 1935 with the name of Nouhad Haddad in a Syriac-Orthodox Christian family of Jabal Al Arz who later emigrated to Beirut. There the young singer will be immediately noticed for her skills by the Rahbani brothers who will then become fundamental in her career as composers and not only; the singer will in fact marry Assi Rahbani in 1955. Thanks to the initiative of the two, Fairouz will be able to have her first successes but it was in 1959 that she had the real turning point.
The Baalbek Festival has in fact decided to organize a “Lebanese evening” that allows the public to discover the beauties of the country. The melodies and voice of the singer turns out to be perfect for the purpose and the success of the diva is always greater. Since 1967 she has held a regular show at Beirut’s Piccadilly Theater.
At the beginning of the 70s, with the growth of fame, the artist began to make real tours abroad, touching cities such as New York, Paris and London. This continuous tour de force, however, is not good for the artist and to the staff who at the end of the season is forced to take a break for some time. Right after the latter, however, the bond with the Rahbani begins to weaken also due to the loss of memory of Assi that do not simplify the solution. Fairouz begins then to rely more and more on his son Ziad Rahbani who will then replace his father and uncle.
The success of the singer is already global and from all over the Arab world and not, princes and political leaders are bewitched by her talent and her figure. The death of Umm Kulthum in 1975 will then transform her into the Queen of Arab music.
The consecration to legend
The arrival of her son and the turbulent Lebanese 80s give a further boost to the singer who in 1984, at the height of the ongoing civil war, will pay homage to her adopted city with “Le Beirut”. The song will become legendary over the decades, so much to become a sort of “Napulé” for the city. Many were the poets who took point from this song, even Mahmoud Darwish explicitly mentions it in his “A Palestinian trilogy”.
The piece was originally a poem by Joseph Harb and it was Ziad’s hand to tailor it to his mother’s voice, giving life to the legendary piece still sung today by those who care about the Middle East. In 1994 he inaugurated the first festival in Lebanon since the end of the war. The event was followed by over 125 million Arabs from all over the world and the emotion in singing “Le Beirut” in Beirut infected the world. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia went so far as to declare: “it was when Fairouz’s voice was raised that Lebanon really returned”.
From that moment on, the singer confirmed herself as a true icon of music and the Middle East, beating any record previously established by an Arab singer.
Fairouz has always stood out for a style that goes back to the past but taking full hands from Western music, just the duration of the songs is an example. In fact, Arabic music was born as a real experience between the narrator / singer and the listener. A perfect example is Umm Kulthum who during her songs often repeated the same phrases but with different tones to mark a certain concept or sensation.
Fairouz, on the other hand, maintains all the typical characteristics of Arabic chant but adding more Mediterranean elements and notes. His voice is the one that could be found in the legendary Andalusia of Darwish, an elegant and rich lyric that takes us back to a splendid past. The texts then vary from love dramas to real patriotic songs, thus managing to keep a varied register but always leads to love, be it a place or a lover.
Even today, the artist remains one of the most loved voices ever and represents a real turning point in Arabic music, from the story to the real song. She still has nicknames in Arab countries such as “Ambassador of Stars” or the simpler “Jewel of Lebanon”, a milestone that every lover of the Middle East must hear at least once in her life.
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