BEIRUT: While historians and those in power sometimes failed to transcribe the country’s recent history in a book, Fairouz and the Rahbani brothers were able to document contemporary events in a number of songs, plays, and several popular films.
The three creative partners became a significant reference, and the voice of Fairouz soon grew into what generates hope in people, brings them together, and even wakes them up in the morning.
November 21 is not a normal day for Lebanese citizens. On this date, the musical voice that has been the soundtrack of generations, singing songs of love, heartbreak, village life, war, and dreams, celebrates her birthday; or rather, Lebanon celebrates for her.
Throwback: A glimpse into the Life of Fairouz
Nouhad Haddad, also known as Fairouz, orchestrated her path into the arts’ industry one note at a time. Her road into this field was led by faith and pushed forward by hope to soon after reach success through persistence and hard work.
“You probably cannot find any person who dislikes Fairouz,” Hiba Chehab, a Lebanese locale said. “Regardless of one’s political and religious affiliations, Fairouz remains what everyone agrees on. She’s probably one of the very few beautiful aspects of the country.”
Her very first performances were on her school’s stage. No one knew back then, that a podium as small as that of a school can be a one-way ticket to professional theaters. During one of her performances, Nouhad was discovered by Mohammad Flayfel, a Lebanese musician and a teacher at the Lebanese Conservatory.
Soon enough, he was able to persuade her into joining the conservatory. On one occasion in the conservatory, Halim El Roumi, head of the Lebanese public radio station and a noted musician, realized Nouhad’s full talent. Their meeting resulted in welcoming Nouhad as a member of the radio’s chorus.
Shortly after, Roumi’s belief in Nouhad’s talent made him choose for her a stage name: Fairouz, which means turquoise, a rare and valuable mineral, in Arabic.
“Fairouz sang for Lebanon. Her music generated hope into all Lebanese citizens when hope was hard to find,” Mohammad Khoudari said reflecting on how unique the artist is.
In the radio station, Fairouz met Assi and Mansour, the Rahbani brothers. The three started working together and Assi started composing songs for Fairouz. In 1955, Assi and Fairouz got married.
A success story: Eighty-three years summarized
The artistic achievements of the icon failed to make one word enough to describe her entire path. Fairouz earned herself a new designation with every new piece she produced. She is entitled as “Ambassador to the Stars,” “Ambassador of the Arabs,” “the Moon's Neighbor,” and the “Jewel of Lebanon.”
“For me, all these titles are not enough to describe Fairouz and the feelings she fosters in people,” Maha Wahid told Annahar. “Fairouz’s name is enough on its own. She doesn’t need any title to define her.”
Her very first huge performance dates back to 1957 and was part of the Baalbeck International Festival.
Over a period of 83 years, Fairouz was able to sell more than 80 million records worldwide according to Forbes. She became a music legend not only to Lebanese people but also, to people from different Arab and non-Arab countries.
“Her melodies combined Arab and European instruments while her voice transcended boundaries to gather fans from Lebanon and from across the world, according to Virginia Danielson, an expert on Middle Eastern music at NYU Abu Dhabi,” a Forbes report noted.
After performing on international stages such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C, Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Royal Albert Hall in London, the icon was tilted as the “All-Time Great” Arab singer by Forbes.
Beyond her songs and albums, Fairouz participated in musicals produced by the Rahbani’s. Most of the time, these performances carried a political message. “Natourit al Mafatih,” “Mais el Reem,” and “Petra,” are examples of these musicals.
“One of my favorite plays for the Rahbani’s is ‘Mais El Reem’,” Wassim Ramadan told Annahar. “Similar to all other plays, its storyline is remarkable, and its messages are easily transmitted and understood.” Adding, that his favorite part in all plays is always the musical section.
Fairouz also participated in a number of films and TV shows.
A tribute to Fairouz: Celebrating a legend
If Lebanese people were to agree on one thing, it is to no doubt that the former would be the role Fairouz played in the country.
“Fairouz has always been looked upon as a person-no one ever asks about her sect or where she comes from, everyone just loves her for who she is and what she has done,” Dany Haddad, Editor of MTV website, told Annahar. “The artist carried in her voice the issues of not only the Lebanese world but also, the Arab world.”
In celebration of Fariouz’s birthday and a tribute to the life of the legend, MTV Lebanon has dedicated all its platforms to cover the life of Fairouz under the title of “Yawm Fairouz” or Fairouz’s day on November 21.
From its social media platforms to its website and live coverage, MTV will for once report on only one topic: Fairouz.
“As a website, we prepared several articles and 15 videos that discuss a specific aspect of Fairouz’s life,” Haddad said. “If we join all the products by the end of the day, we would be able to create an archive of the icon’s actuality.”
MTV website collaborated with MTV’s morning program Alive to ensure a full coverage of the icon’s being. The program will be hosting a number of interviews from 8:30 to 1 pm with people who have witnessed a specific aspect of Fairouz’s life, who have worked with her previously, or who are still in contact with her. These interviewees will play the role of shedding light on different aspects of Fairouz’s journey, from her career and political stands to her personal life.
According to Haddad, one of the major aspects of this tribute is getting the younger generation, who have heard many of Fairouz’s songs but probably not much of her history, more acquainted with the legend’s influence on the country.
“Fairouz is not a normal celebrity, Fairouz is a legend,” Haddad told Annahar. “The 21st of November is a tribute to a person who in the country’s worst times was able to keep locales attached to Lebanon.”
“Her voice is what keeps all Lebanese, even those abroad, connected to their roots and home country: Lebanon.”
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