Fairuz – Lebanon’s Gem

Fairuz - Beirut's Gem

Nuhād al-Ḥaddād, known as Fairuz, is a Lebanese singer and actress born in November 1935 (according to most resources). Why Fairuz? In the 1940s, Halim El Rumi, head of the music department at the Lebanese Radio Station at the time, thought of her voice as a ‘rare gem’ and gave her the stage name “Fairuz” which means “Turquoise”.

Fairuz grew up in a poor neighborhood. They couldn’t afford having a radio so she would sit near her window to hear the music coming from the neighbors house. It was obvious to her family that she was passionate about music and singing. Her dad’s savings allowed her to go to school where she joined a choir at the age of 14 and started singing in several events. Well known musician at the time and member of the Lebanese Conservatory Muhammad Fleifel was scouting new talents and chose her after hearing her voice. During one of the recordings at the Lebanese Radio Station she met El Rumi who offered her a job at the Radio station which she gladly accepted. Later, she met her husband to be Assi Rahbani at the radio station as well. 

Fleifel also helped her get into the National Conservatory to study music. Her father was not a big fan of his daughter becoming a singer, it was actually her sister and mother who accompanied her to her music lessons without her father knowing. They invited him to a concert where he was surprised to see his daughter sing on stage to graduate after several years of music studies. He was convinced by her uncle, to which he was very close, that she has a special talent worth focusing on. 

Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers (Assi and Mansour Rahbani) recorded their first song called ‘Itab’ (Blame) in 1952. This song is considered the beginning of their career. After Assi’s death, she started collaborating with her children Ziad and Rima to do new music. It wasn’t very well received by her audience when their iconic arab singer started singing more mundane lyrics such as in her song “Mish Kāyin Hayk Takūn” (“You Shouldn’t Be That Way”), where she talks about olive and soap. But we believe it was her and Ziad’s way to reach the younger audience, and we grew to love both her old and new style.

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