Fayrouz … Lebanon’s “ambassador” to the world and a symbol of its unity

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Fayrouz … Lebanon’s “ambassador” to the world and a symbol of its unity

The French President will meet today during his visit to Beirut


Monday – 12 Muharram 1442 AH – August 31, 2020 CE


The Lebanese singer Fairouz during a rare concert in Beirut in 2010 (Archives – AFP)

Beirut: «Middle East Online»

Fayrouz, whose visit to Beirut by French President Emmanuel Macron begins with a meeting with her today (Monday), is the ambassador of Lebanese art to the world, with whom Lebanese from all sects and political affiliations meet about her voice and songs.
Although she has been completely out of the limelight for years and stopped reviving concerts, Fairouz’s exceptional voice, recognized by international experts, still accompanies millions of people around the world, who sang for love, homeland, freedom and values.
The fame of the thin woman Fayrouz, whose real name is Nihad Haddad, has gone far beyond the borders of the small country, attracting fans from all over the world. It is considered one of the last adult generation in the golden age of Arab music in the twentieth century, according to the French Press Agency.
In Lebanon, Fayrouz refused to be drawn into political or religious rivalries, especially during the years of the civil war (1975-1990), and her songs dominated the rival radio stations on both sides of the front lines.
In an interview with “The New York Times” in May 1999, she said after a concert in Las Vegas, in response to a question about her excessive seriousness on stage: “If you look at my face when I sing, you will see as if I am not there.”
“I see art as prayer,” she added. You are not in a church; But I feel as if I am in it, and in this atmosphere, I cannot laugh. ”
She was almost constantly on stage, while a single movement or a shy smile was enough to ignite the enthusiasm of her audience.
Fayrouz was born in the village of Debbieh in the mountainous Chouf region on November 21, 1934, to a father who works at a printing press, and a mother who took care of the family of four children. Later, the family moved to the Zoukak El Blat neighborhood in Beirut.
At the end of the forties, the composer Mohamed Fleifel, who was looking for beautiful voices to join the Lebanese Radio choir, discovered Fayrouz’s talent. And joining her to the “Conservatoire” to learn the basics of music and singing. The radio’s music director at the time, Halim Al-Roumi, was impressed with the beauty of her voice, and suggested her artistic name, Fairouz.
Backstage in the radio, Fayrouz got acquainted with Asi and Mansour Rahbani, the composers who later knew; Especially with her, he was widely known, and their art was radically linked to Lebanon, thus becoming an integral part of its heritage.
Fayrouz collaborated with the Rahbani brothers, starting in the early 1950s. This resulted in a wide range of singing, theatrical and cinematic works that combined oriental melodies, Lebanese folklore and western tunes. And a large number of them maintain their freshness over time.
Fayrouz sang to great poets, from Al-Akhtal Al-Saghir to Saeed Akl, who called her “Lebanon’s Ambassador to the Stars”, passing by Gibran Khalil Gibran and Elias Abu Shabaka. Abdel Wahab, Philemon Wahba and Zaki Nassif composed for her.
And it formed with the Rahbani brothers a milestone in the famous Baalbek festivals, and was dubbed “the seventh pillar of Baalbek.”
In the mid-fifties, Fayrouz married Asi Rahbani, and they had four children, Ziad and Layal, who died in 1987, a year after the death of her father, Hali, and Rima.
Those close to her say that she went through many tragedies on a personal level, from the death of her daughter to the disability of her son Hali. But she kept her lightness in her private and family gatherings.
“In fact, she is far from the (cold) image that she reflects on the stage,” said Duha Shams, a journalist who worked with her for a long time. She is very funny whenever she wants. ”
Despite her widespread fame, Fayrouz has always taken care to protect her family privacy. However, this did not prevent the media from reporting family news, including her disagreement with her husband Assi at a certain stage before his illness and after his death, her disagreement with Mansour Al-Rahbani’s family over artistic property rights, and disagreements about her artistic orientation between her two sons Ziad and Rima.
Fayrouz has collaborated with Ziad since the 1980s. In 1991, she sang to him “How are you?” Within a cylinder that stirred up controversy between those who love Ziad Rahbani and renewal in Fairuz’s career, and those who refuse to do so. The version was a huge success.
For decades, Fayrouz’s songs formed a connecting link between the Lebanese. During the civil war, she refused to sing in Lebanon to avoid being considered a region without the other, while her country is an arena for conflict between sectarian forces supported by external forces.
However, they held concerts abroad, stirring nostalgia and emotion in the hearts of the Lebanese fleeing to the capitals of the world, with songs such as “I Love You Lebanon”, “Return Me to My Country,” and “Beirut” accompanying since August 4, the date of the terrible explosion. In the capital, videos of the disaster broadcast by local television stations.
Fayrouz sang the most beautiful of what was said about Jerusalem, which was “Zahrat Al-Madaen”, and “We will return one day.” Two Arab deputies transferred to her, Miftah al-Madina, in 1968. She also sang for Damascus, Makkah and elsewhere, and for the homelands, revolutions and peoples.
The late King Hussein of Jordan awarded her three medals. Radio stations in Syria, Jordan and other Arab countries broadcast their songs heavily to this day.
Despite her extreme reservations, she sparked controversy in 2008 when she sang in Damascus, three years after the withdrawal of the Syrian forces from Lebanon, under the pressure of the street, who pointed the finger at the time at Syria for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Its last appearance was in April with the outbreak of the new Corona virus, in a video clip in which I read passages from the Psalms in the Bible, which I began with “Oh Lord, why are you standing away? Why disappear in times of trouble?”.

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