Published August 29th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Probably the most famous Arabic songstress in the world, Fairuz was originally born with the name Nuhad Haddad in 1935. 

Throughout her constantly flourishing career, the elegant Lebanese singer was able to extend the Lebanese culture in all her journeys to Europe, the US and the far East.  

However, unlike many of her fellow songstresses, Fairuz was not born to wealth. She was a poor girl, whose family was intent on educating her. Fairuz’s first taste of music came about when she enrolled at a school in Beirut. She immediately joined the music club, eager to learn the art. 

Poet Mohammed Flayfel, was the first person ever to recognize Fairuz’s abilities. Flayfel, along with his brother Ahmad immediately recognized a hard to ignore talent in Fairuz when she entered their radio talent show. After violent and prolonged arguments with her parents, who wanted her to continue her schooling, Fairuz delved headfirst into the world of music.  

Her first song was Ya Zahra Fi Khayali, (The Rose in my Imagination) composed by the late famous artist Farid El Atrash. 

It was the late musician Halim El Roumi who gave Fairuz her stage name. Roumi was father to another great songstress of modern times, Majida Al Roumi. 

It was also Roumi who introduced Fairuz to her future family, the Rahbani’s. 

He presented the young talent to Assi Al Rahbani and his brother Mansour in 1950.  

In the beginning, the famous Rahbani family were not too sure of the young songstress. However, one member of that family stuck by the young girl.  

It was Assi who saw a unique gift in Fairuz’s voice. However, Mansour disagreed. It wasn’t until recently that Mansour publicly admitted to his mistake regarding her voice.  

In 1954, Fairuz got married to Assi Al Rahbani, with whom she had her three children, Rima, Ziad and Henly. 

So far, the songstress has acquired more than 500 songs, composed by the two Rahbani brothers. She has also sung to the tunes of Filimon Wihbe and the late Farid El Atrash. 

Her latest work was with her famous son Ziad, who revolutionized the meaning of music in the Arab world. 

Fairuz has performed many times in the Arab world, Europe (especially France) and in the US. She is most famous for patriotic songs, but equally admired for her love ballads. She has received honorary awards from most Arab leaders. 

Throughout the Lebanese war, Fairuz disappeared from the limelight. It wasn’t until 1991, that the singer came back into the world of music, debuting her return with an unprecedented concert in Lebanon’s Martyr Square.  

Since then, Fairuz has performed at the Olympia theater in Paris and was honored by French President Françoise Mitterand. She has also performed in London’s famous Albert Hall. 

Her latest album Salimeely Aleih, (Bid Him Hello) was received with mixed reactions. There are those who believe that the album marks Fairuz’s return and others who believe that the album is a sign of Fairuz’s fall from fame. 

I guess we’ll just have to keep our eyes open. 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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