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Fairuz is a remarkably popular Lebanese musician who has managed to sustain Lebanese cultural motifs and aspirations while blending her performances with sounds as diverse as Mozart and Latin American rumbas, flamenco and Balkan folk music. Fairuz, who is Christian, has recorded both hymns and pro-Palestinian sings. The curious can hear her sing on Al-Gomma al-Hazeenah.
Nouhad Wadi Haddad (Arabic: نهاد وديع حداد) (born November 20, 1934), known as Fairuz (Arabic: فيروز, also spelled Fairouz or Fayrouz, meaning turquoise in ِِArabic), is a Lebanese singer who is among the most widely admired and deeply respected living singers in the Arab world. Her songs are constantly heard throughout the region.
She was first noticed at the International Festival of Baalbeck, where she performed many of her songs. She became famous after appearing on the "Lebanese Nights" part of the festival for many successive years. Fairuz is commonly known as "Ambassador to the Stars", "Neighbor to the Moon" (for her song about the moon of Machgara), and the "Jewel of Lebanon"."Lebanese diva is voice of Arab world". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. 4 October 1989. Retrieved 4 October 1989. "Lebanese diva Fairuz's concert delights Syrian fans". Agence France-Presse. January 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-28. Khaled Yacoub (January 28, 2008). "Lebanese diva arouses emotion, controversy in Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-09-28. Sami Asmar (Spring 1995). "Fairouz: a Voice, a Star, a Mystery". Al Jadid. Retrieved 14 January 2010. Boulos, Sargon (1981). Fairouz – Legend and Legacy. Forum for International Art and Culture. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
Fairouz was born to a Lebanese family that is Christian Maronite and Syriac Orthodox. She is of the Greek Orthodox faith, having converted when she married Assi Rahbani, one of the two Rahbani brothers who had helped shape her singing career. She is also the mother of Lebanese singer and composer Ziad Rahbani and of Lebanese director and photographer Rima Rahbani.
Fairouz sings to describe the beauty, peace and freedom of Lebanon. This is especially mentioned in her song: "Tetloj El Dini", in which she sings: "Taljak El Mahabbi ou Shamsak El Herreye" (English: Love is in the snow of Lebanon and freedom is in the sun of Lebanon).
Nonetheless, the Good Friday is an annual ceremony that is set as a tradition by Fairouz, who has been holding the ceremony at different churches from all over Lebanon, concentrating on abandoned churches (old ones that need or are under renovation) according to the Greek Orthodox and Maronite liturgies."Fairuz – Ambassadrice des Etoiles". Norient. July 21, 2001. Retrieved 2008-03-21. Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, Richard Trillo, ed. (1999). World music: the rough guide. Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Volume 1. Rough Guides. p. 393. ISBN 9781858286358. "Mansour Rahbani: Obituary". The Telegraph. February 8, 2009. "Fairouz info". Fanoos.com. 1935-11-21. Retrieved 2012-02-04. الدين والدهماء والدم: العرب وإستعصاء الحداثة – أبو فخر، صقر – Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-02-04. Cite error: The named reference NYTimes was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Andrew Hammond (2007). Popular Culture in the Arab World: arts, politics, and the media (Illustrated ed.). American University in Cairo Press. p. 169. ISBN 9789774160547. Christopher Stone (October 1, 2007). ""Our Eyes Travel to You Everyday" – The place of Jerusalem in the works of Fairouz and the Rahbani Brothers". ArteEast Quarterly. Christopher Reed Stone (2008). Popular culture and nationalism in Lebanon: the Fairouz and Rahbani nation. Routledge. p. 147. ISBN 9780203939321.
ContentsBiography1.1 1935–1950s – The early years1.2 1960s – The establishment of a new star1.3 1970s – International fame and war in Lebanon1.4 1980s – A new production team1.5 1990s–present
BiographySee also: Timeline of Fairuz
1935–1950s – The early years
Nouhad Haddad was born on 20 November 1934 in Lebanon into a Maronite and Syriac Orthodox family. The family later moved into a home in a cobblestone alley called Zuqaq el Blatt in Beirut. Living in a single room of a typical Lebanese stone house facing Beirut's Greek Orthodox Patriarchate school, they shared a kitchen with the neighbours. Her father Wadīʿ was a Lebanese of the Syriac Orthodox faith, and worked as a typesetter in a print shop. Lisa, her mother, also Lebanese, but Maronite Christian, stayed home and took care of her four children, Nouhad, Youssef, Houda and Amal.
Nouhad was a shy child and did not have many friends at school. However, she was very attached to her grandmother who lived in Debbieh (Shuf area), where Nouhad used to spend her summer holidays. Nouhad seemed to enjoy the rural village life. During the day, Nouhad would help her grandmother with house chores and fetch fresh water from a nearby water spring. She would sing all the way to the spring and back. In the evening, Nouhad would sit by the candlelight with her grandmother, who would tell her stories.
By the age of ten, Nouhad was already known at school for her unusual singing voice. She would sing regularly during school shows and on holidays. This was how she came to the attention of Mohammed Fleyfel, a well known musician and a teacher at the Lebanese Conservatory, who happened to attend one of the school's shows in February 1950. Impressed by her voice and performance, he advised her to enroll in the conservatory, which she did. At first, Nouhad's conservative father was reluctant to send her to the conservatory; however, he eventually allowed her to go on condition that her brother accompany her. That having been said, Nouhad's family as a whole encouraged her in her musical career.
Mohammed Fleyfel took a close interest in Nouhad's talent. Among other things, he taught her to recite verses from the Koran (in the recitative style known as Tajweed). On one occasion, Nouhad was heard singing by Halim el Roumi, head of the Lebanese radio station and a prominent musician in his own right (also the father of the famous Lebanese singer Majida Roumi). Roumi was impressed by her voice and noticed that it had a rare flexibility that allowed her to sing both Arabic and Western modes admirably. At Nouhad's request, El Roumi appointed her as a chorus singer at the radio station in Beirut and went on to compose several songs for her. He chose for her the stage name Fairuz, which is the Arabic word for turquoise.
A short while later, Fairuz was introduced to the Rahbani brothers, Assi and Mansour, who also worked at the radio station as musicians, and they discovered her talent. The chemistry was instant, and soon after, Assi started to compose songs for Fairouz, one of which was "Itab" (the third song he composed for her), which was an immediate
smash hit in all of the Arab world, establishing Fairuz as one of the most prominent Arab singers on the Arabic music scene. Assi and Fairuz were married on 23 January 1955.
Fairuz and Assi had four children: Ziad, a musician and a composer, Layal (died in 1987 of a brain stroke), Hali (paralysed since early childhood after meningitis) and Rima, a photographer and film director.
Fairuz's first large-scale concert was in 1957, as part of the Baalbeck International Festival which took place under the patronage of the Lebanese President Camille Chamoun. She performed alongside the British prima ballerina Beryl Goldwyn and the Ballet Rambert. Fairuz was paid one Lebanese pound for that show. Musical operettas and concerts followed for many years, eventually establishing Fairuz as one of the most popular singers in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world.
1960s – The establishment of a new star
As the 1960s wore on, Fairuz became known as the "First Lady of Lebanese singing", as Halim Roumi dubbed her. During this period the Rahbani brothers wrote and composed for her hundreds of famous songs, most of their operettas, and three motion pictures.
In 1969, Fairuz's songs were banned from the radio stations in Lebanon for six months because she refused to sing at a private concert in honour of Algerian President Houari Boumedienne. The incident only served to increase her popularity. Fairuz made it clear then and since that while always willing to sing to her public and to various countries and regions, she would never sing to any individual.
1970s – International fame and war in Lebanon
In 1971, Fairuz's fame became international after her major North American tour, which was received with much excitement by the Arab-American and American community and yielded very positive reviews of the concerts.
On September 22, 1972, Assi suffered a brain haemorrhage and was rushed to the hospital. Fans crowded outside the hospital praying for him and lighting candles. After three surgeries, Assi's brain haemorrhage was halted. Ziad Rahbani, the eldest son of Fairuz and Assi, at age 16, gave his mother the music of one of his unreleased songs "Akhadou el Helween" (that he had composed to be sung by Marwan Mahfouz in "Sahriyyi" Ziad's first play) and his uncle Mansour Rahbani re-wrote new lyrics for it to be called "Saalouni n'Nass" ("The People Asked Me") which talked about Fayrouz being on stage for the first time without Assi. Three months after suffering the haemorrhage, Assi attended the premiere performance of that musical Al Mahatta in Piccadilly Theatre on Hamra Street. Elias Rahbani, Assi's younger brother, took over the orchestration and musical arrangement for the performance.
Fairuz made her first European TV appearance on French TV on May 24, 1975, in a "Carpentier special show" called "Numero 1" dedicated to French star Mireille Mathieu. She sang one of her big hits "Habbaytak Bissayf" and was thanked and embraced after performing it by Mireille Mathieu.
Within a year, Assi had returned to composing and writing with his brother. They continued to produce musicals, which became increasingly political in nature. After the Lebanese Civil War erupted, the brothers continued to use political satire and sharp criticism in their plays. In 1977, their musical Petra was shown in both the Muslim western and Christian eastern portions of Beirut.
In 1978, the trio toured Europe and the Arabic Gulf nations, including a concert at the Paris Olympia. As a result of this busy schedule, Assi’s medical and mental health began to deteriorate. Fairuz and the brothers agreed to end their professional and personal relationship in 1979. Fairuz began to work with a production team helmed by her son, Ziad Rahbani, and Assi and Mansour composed for other artists such as Ronza.
During the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), Fairuz never left Lebanon to live abroad and did not hold any concerts there with the exception of the stage performance of the operetta Petra, which was performed in both the western and eastern parts of the then-divided Beirut in 1978. However, during that time period, Fairuz held many very successful and record-breaking concerts and tours in numerous countries around the world.
1980s – A new production team
After the artistic divorce between Fairouz and the Rahbani brothers in 1979, Fairuz carried on with her son, composer Ziad Rahbani, his friend the lyricist Joseph Harb, and composer Philemon Wehbe.
Fairuz made a second and final European Television appearance on French TV on 13 October 1988 in a show called Du côté de chez Fred. Fairuz, who had scheduled a concert at the POPB of Paris Bercy concert hall three days later on 16 October, was the main guest of French TV presenter Frédéric Mitterrand, today France's Minister of Culture (2009). The program features footage of her rehearsals for her concert at Bercy in addition to the ceremony featuring then French Minister of Culture Jack Lang awarding Fairuz the medal of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. It also includes a video montage of her previous movies and concerts. In that show, Fairuz also sang the three songs "Ya hourrié", "Yara" and "Zaali tawwal".
In the 1990s, Fairuz produced six albums (two Philemon Wehbe tributes with unreleased tracks included, a Zaki Nassif album, three Ziad Rahbani albums, and a tribute album to Assi Rahbani orchestrated by Ziad) and held a number of large-scale concerts, most notably the historic concert held at Beirut's Martyr's Square in September 1994 to launch the rebirth of the downtown district that was ravaged by the civil war. She appeared at the Baalbeck International Festival in 1998 after 25 years of self-imposed absence where she performed the highlights of three very successful plays that were presented in the 1960s and 1970s.
She also performed a concert in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Arena in 1999 which was attended by over 16,000 spectators, mostly Arabs. Ever since, Fairuz has held sold out concerts at the Beiteddine International Festival (Lebanon) from 2000 to 2003, Kuwait (2001), Paris (2002), the United States (2003), Amman (2004), Montreal (2005), Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Baalbeck, BIEL (2006), Athens, Amman (2007) Damascus, and Bahrain (2008).
Fairuz now works exclusively with her composer son Ziad. Her first album in the new millennium "Wala Keef", was released in 2002.
Her 2008 performance in Damascus caused considerable controversy in Lebanon, given the tense relationship between Lebanon and Syria. Several members of parliament publicly asked her to cancel the concert. She went to Syria where she was received by a crowd of 7000 fans, screaming her name at the borders, as her car passed into Syrian grounds. Mosques and prayers on radio were all held back as Fairouz's songs played day and night through almost every media outlet in the Syrian nation. Radio channels, TV channels, the Syrian satellite broadcasters, restaurants and cafes, and newspapers were all focused on Fairuz's legendary return after 20 years absence. However big the controversy was, it seems it has not affected her popularity in Lebanon as she held the Orthodox Good Friday Prayer Mass in West Beirut as hundreds and hundreds crowded the church premises.
Fairuz's new album entitled Eh... Fi Amal was released on 7 October 2010, produced by Fairuz productions and written entirely by Ziad Rahbani. Two concerts took place at BIEL Center in Beirut, Lebanon on 7 and 8 October. Later a concert in Bahrain was cancelled in March 2011. She performed in Netherlands for the first time in Amsterdam on 26 June 2011.
Fairuz's last appearance on stage was in Platea - Jounieh - Harer Sakher in December 2011, where she had 6 concerts extending from 9 to 23 of December 2011.Aydemir, Fatma; Rustom, Sami (20 November 2014). "Libanesische Sängerin Fairouz: Die fremde Stimme". die tageszeitung. Retrieved 22 November 2014. Cite error: The named reference Burkhalter was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Broughtonp393 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Telegraph was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Atallah, Samir (30 November 2005). ""سبعون" البنت السريانية التي جاءت من ماردين". An-Nahar. Retrieved December 28, 2012. أبو فخر, صقر (2007), الدين والدهماء والدم: العرب وإستعصاء الحداثة, Beirut: المؤسسة العربية للنشر والدراسات, p. 274, ISBN 978-9953-36-946-4 Neil Macfarquhar (18 May 1999). "This Pop Diva Wows Them in Arabic". New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010. Raed Rafei (15 July 2007). "Haunted by her songs of love, peace". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 January 2010. Khaled Yacoub Oweis (28 January 2008). "Lebanese diva arouses emotion, controversy in Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 14 January 2010.
Fairuz has performed in many countries around the globe including Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece, Canada, United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and her home country Lebanon.
Fairuz has performed in many venues such as the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1962, the New York Carnegie Hall in 1971, the London Palladium in 1978, L'Olympia de Paris in 1979, London's Royal Festival Hall in 1986, the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles (1971, 1981, and 2003), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. (1981 and 1987) among many others (for the complete concert chronology, see Fairuz concerts).
Fairuz has yielded record-breaking performances in many concerts she has held around the world. Fairuz, Assi, and Mansour have become the most famous and dominant music production phenomenon in the Arab world, and their music has spread beyond the Arab world to Europe, the Americas, and Australia.
Of Fairuz's numerous concerts, few are officially released. They are the Damascus 1960, Olympia 1979 concert (audio and video released in the 1980s), USA tour 1981, Jarash 1983, Royal Festival Hall London 1986, USA tour 1987, Baalbek 1998 (Video), Las Vegas 1999 concert (on DVD with make over and rehearsals), Beiteddine 2000 and Dubai 2001 (on DVD, it includes parts from concerts in 1997 and 2002 as well as rehearsals from 2001 and 2002 concerts, released May 2008). Pirated versions of other concerts exist: Kuwait 1966, Syria and Egypt 1976, Olympia 1979, Australia 1984, Syria 1985, Bahrain 1987, France 1988, Kuwait1989, Cairo 1989, London 1994, Beirut 1994, and parts of the four Beiteddine concerts (2000–2003), Parts of Dubai concerts (1990–2006), Paris 2002, Amman 2004, Canada 2005, parts of the play Sah Ennawm which was performed in Beirut (2006), Athens 2007 and Bahrain 2008. On June 26, 2011 Fairuz performed in the Royal Carre Theater in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
On December 2011, Fairuz performed 5 concerts on Platea Theatre in Sahel Alma in Lebanon, on 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23 December, where the theater accommodates approximately 4,000 persons.Blok, Arthur (27 June 2011). "Fairuz wows Amsterdam". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 30 June 2011. Holland Festival organizers were literally glowing with pride as legendary singer Fairuz stepped on stage on Sunday night at Amsterdam’s Royal Theater Carré.
Musical plays or operettas were the cornerstone works of the Rahbani Trio, Fairuz, Assi and Mansour. The Rahbani Brothers produced 25 popular musical plays (20 with Fairuz) over a period of more than 30 years. They were possibly the first to produce world-class Arabic musical theatre.
The musicals combined storyline, lyrics and dialogue, musical composition varying widely from Lebanese folkloric and rhythmic modes to classical, westernized, and oriental songs, orchestration, and the voice and acting of Fairuz. She played the lead roles alongside singers/actors Nasri Shamseddine, Wadih El Safi, Antoine Kerbaje, Elie Shouayri (Chouayri), Hoda (Fairuz's younger sister), William Haswani, Raja Badr, Siham Chammas (Shammas), Georgette Sayegh and many others.
The Rahbani plays expressed patriotism, unrequited love and nostalgia for village life, comedy, drama, philosophy, and contemporary politics. The songs performed by Fairuz as part of the plays have become immensely popular among the Lebanese and Arabs around the world.
The Fairuz-Rahbani collaboration produced the following musicals (in chronological order):Ayyam al Hassad (Days of Harvest – 1957)Al 'Urs fi l’Qarya (The Wedding in the Village – 1959)Al Ba'albakiya (The Girl from Baalbek) – 1961)Jisr el Amar] (Bridge of the Moon – 1962)Awdet el 'Askar (The Return of the Soldiers – 1962)Al Layl wal Qandil] (The Night and the Lantern – 1963)Biyya'el Khawatem (Ring Salesman – 1964)Ayyam Fakhreddine (The Days of Fakhreddine – 1966)Hala wal Malik (Hala and the King – 1967)Ach Chakhs (The Person – 1968–1969)Jibal Al Sawwan (Sawwan Mountains – 1969)Ya'ich Ya'ich (Long Live, Long Live – 1970)Sah Ennawm (Did you sleep well? – 1970–1971 – 2006–2008)Nass min Wara' (People Made out of Paper – 1971–1972)Natourit al Mafatih (The Guardian of the Keys – 1972)Al Mahatta (The Station – 1973)Loulou – 1974Mais el Reem (The Deer's Meadow – 1975)Petra – 1977–1978
Most of the musical plays were recorded and video-taped. Eighteen of them have been officially released on audio CD, two on DVD (Mais el Reem and Loulou). A pirated version of Petra and one pirated live version of Mais el Reem in black and white exist. Ayyam al Hassad (Days of Harvest) was never recorded and Al 'Urs fi l’Qarya (The Marriage in the Village) has not yet been released (yet a pirated audio record is available).
Lebanese Television has featured appearances by Fairuz in the following television programmes:Al Iswara (The Bracelet)Day'it El Aghani (Village of Songs)Layali As'Saad (Nights of Happiness)Al Quds fil Bal (Jerusalem in my Heart)Dafater El Layl (Night Memoirs)Maa Al Hikayat (With Stories)Sahret Hobb (Romantic Evening)Qasidat Hobb (A Love Poem), also presented as a musical show in Baalbeck in 1973
Other television programmes and appearances have been recorded for Syrian and Lebanese TV alike, though neither these nor the ones mentioned above are available.