Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon in 1935, Nouhad Haddad, beter known as Fairuz is an Arabic music superstar. She began her musical career as a teenager. From chorus girl at the Lebanese radio station in the late 1940s, to critical and popular acclaim from the 1950s to today, Fairuz is acknowledged not only for her musical talent and contribution, but also as a cultural and political icon. A symbol of a people, a heritage, a quest for peace, and of humanity.
During most of her career, Fairuz reflected two other great artists, Assi and Mansour Rahbani. They wrote the lyrics and composed her tunes. Today, many of her songs reflect the composing talent of Ziad Rahbani who is Fairuz’s son. Her songs testify to the Rahbani musical genius, as well as to Fairuz’s broad musical background.
Referred to as “The Soul of Lebanon” in the 1970s, Fairuz became a pre-eminent figure, a superstar of current music in the Arab world. Together, the Rahbani family is both a school of music and a cultural phenomenon.
For the girl who loved to sing to her friends and neighbors in the little village, it was an overwhelming experience when, in 1957, Lebanon’s President Chamoun presented Fairuz with the “Cavalier”, the highest medal ever conferred on a Lebanese Artist.
In 1969 a memorial Lebanese stamp was issued in her name. Meeting royalty, once an experience she had expected to encounter only in the fairy tales of her childhood, has become a reality for her.
She is routinely welcomed, greeted, received, and honored by today’s world leaders. In 1963, King Hussein of Jordan presented her with the Medal of Honor, followed by his Majesty’s Gold Medal in 1975. In Brazil, the crowds attempted to carry her with her limousine. In 1981, while touring in the U.S., Senators, Governors and Mayors of various cities honored her. A Harvard University scholar, Barry Hoberman, even wrote: “Quite simply, Fairuz is one of the world’s nonpareil musicians and outstanding Artists, an international treasure of the order of Rostropovich, Sills, Ravi Shankar, Miles Davis, Sutherland, Pavarotti and Dylan.”
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.