The Arab world’s most iconic musical sensation, Fairuz, has always remained shrouded in mystery. She keeps a low profile and rarely grants interviews – fiercely guarding the privacy of her life and family. Fairuz is widely regarded as one of the greatest vocalists and most celebrated singers in Arab music’s history – earning her the nickname “the soul of Lebanon”.

The Lebanese singer was born Nouhad Haddad in 1934 in Jabal al Arz – a small village in Lebanon’s northern region of Mount Lebanon. Fairuz’s singing career began to blossom in the 1950s and 60s while she was performing on the national radio station. During this time, she studied the techniques and styles of other singers and developed a relationship with her composer ‘Assi Rahbani and his brother Mansour. The two brothers began incorporating Western dance band influences into their compositions, developing the “dance song” in Arabic music. Although her first big success came with the melancholic song “Itab” in 1952, Fairuz became recognized throughout the Arab world with the excellent recording made in Damascus.

Over the course of a remarkable six-decade career, Fairuz has recorded 1,500 songs, released more than 80 albums, and starred in 20 musicals. Her music has sold over 150 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling Middle Eastern artists of all time and a global phenomenon.

Fairuz’s collaboration with the Rahbani Brothers began in the 1950s and lasted for several decades, resulting in an extensive repertoire of songs that revolutionised modern Arab music. In addition to her musical career, Fairuz also starred in the 1960 film “Bint El-Hares” amongst other films and television shows.

Fairuz’s talent and contributions to music and culture have been recognized with many awards and honours over the years. In 1962, she was awarded the National Order of the Cedar by the Lebanese government, one of the country’s highest honours. She received the al-Istehkak honour from Syria in 1967 and was honoured with a Lebanese memorial stamp in 1969, followed by a Syrian stamp. In 1970, she was awarded the Officer Rank Honor in Lebanon, and in 1973, she received the golden key to the city of Jerusalem.

And these are only a few examples of the innumerable honours that Fairuz has received throughout her notable career.

Fairuz’s legacy has left an indelible mark on the Arab world and beyond with her powerful voice, poetic lyrics, and timeless melodies. Her music continues to bring people together and create a sense of unity and pride. Fairuz is not just a singer or a musician; she is a cultural ambassador, a national treasure, and an icon of the Arab world.

Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.
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