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Fairuz Angel Voice Sweetens Syrians’ Mornings

Who in the world doesn’t know the Arab song legend Fairuz, the renowned Lebanese songstress, whose songs touch upon people’s conscience across the Arab homeland.

In Syria, her angel unique voice used to accompany the mornings of most Syrians while having their coffee at home or at office, while driving towards their job or while having breakfast. She keeps being the partner of our everyday life and of our intellectual, spiritual and emotional moments in a way no other singer can do.

 Fairuz, 77,  has enriched the Arab musical library with wonderful songs about the homeland and love. Damascus, in particular, was so dear to the heart of the songstress that many of her songs talk about the glorious history and beauty of this city.  These songs penetrate our conscience, fix our mood and help us know how to continue optimistic.

Born in 1935 in Jabal Alarz in Lebanon to a poor, but happy and never needy family, Nouhad Haddad, better known as Fairuz, started her artistic career in the early forties, when Mohamed Flayfel, a veteran composer and song writer discovered her while looking for young people to join his choir at a radio program. A few months later, and with the help of Flayfel, she joined the national Lebanese radio station's choir.

Fairuz remained singing in the choir for about two months until they auditioned her for solo performances. One of the station's managers, Halim Elrumi, realized the potential of Fairuz’s voice and started giving her songs of his. Elrumi decided to present her to Assy and Mansour Rahbani, who both liked her voice very much. By 1951, she had sung songs written by Elrumi, Medhat Asem, Nikola Almani, Salim Elhelou, Mohamed Mohsen, Tawfick Basha, Khaled Abou Naser and many others. Later, Assy and Mansour decided to compose songs for Fairuz and started to develop their special form of Lebanese song.

Fairuz sang the traditional songs in new arrangements like 'Elbint Elshalabia' and also totally original songs like 'Nehna Wel Amar Jiran'. In July of 1954, Fairuz and Assy got married and the couple moved to Assy’s house in Antelias, north of Beirut.

With songs like Itab, Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were starting to become famous in many countries around the Arab world. They were invited many times by the Damascus radio station to present their works. Another radio station, Sawet Elarab from Egypt, sent their leading anchor Ahmed Said to Lebanon to strike a deal with the trio. In 1955 the Rahbani brothers and Fairuz went to Cairo, and it was there where they wrote the most important musical work at that time, Rajioun.                  

Fairuz and the Rahbanis returned to Beirut, and on the first day of 1956 she gave birth to her first son Ziad. The following year she sang 'Libnan ya Akhder Helou' in Baalbeck. That was the spark which was followed by the incredible works of the Rahbani brothers in Baalbeck. They also showed these and other works on different stages including those of the Damascus festival, Casino Du Liban, Cedars and the Piccadily theater. Fairuz's talent was not limited to the Rahbani works and she sang songs that were composed by others like Philemon Wehbe, Mohamed Abdelwahab and Elias Rahbani.

In 1971 she went with the Rahbani brothers and troupe on a successful tour in the United States. They also went on tours around the world setting foot in every continent. Fairuz graced many stages and theaters including Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Olympia in Paris. In the late 70's however, Fairuz's relationship with Assy and Mansour deteriorated and their work bond was broken. After Assy’s death, she continued singing the Rahbani songs as well as her son's Ziad creative and mainly jazz influenced songs. She also got to work with Zaki Nassif and Mohamed Mohsen. In 1998, the songstress returned to Baalbeck and her concerts were a smashing success.

Fairuz got many awards for her great contribution to the Arab culture including:

Al-Arz Order of the knight rank (Lebanon 1962), Al-Istehkak Al-Loubnani Order

Al-Istehkak Al-Souri Order (Syria 1967), Order of the officer rank (Lebanon 1970), Al-Nahda Al-Urdoni Order of the first degree (Jordan), Order of the Comondour rank (France 1988), Jerusalem Order (Palestine 1997), Althaqafa Alrafie' Order(Tunisia 1998). 

Though she is old, Fairuz continues to release new material and perform concerts around the world.

H. Mustafa