Nouhad Wadie’ Haddad, known as Fairuz, is a Lebanese singer who is one of the most widely admired and deeply respected living singers in the Arab world.
By the age of ten, Nouhad was already known for her unusual singing voice and came to the attention of Mohammed Flayfel, a well known musician and a teacher who, impressed by her voice, advised her to enrol in the Lebanese Conservatory.
Fairuz’s first large-scale concert was in 1957, as part of the Baalbeck International Festival where she performed alongside the British prima ballerina Beryl Goldwyn and the Ballet Rambert. In the 1960s Fairuz became known as the “First Lady of Lebanese singing”, and the Rahbani brothers wrote and composed hundreds of famous songs, operettas, and three motion pictures. Their musicals combined storyline, lyrics and dialogue, musical composition varying widely from Lebanese folkloric and rhythmic modes to classical, westernized, and oriental songs.
In 1971 Fairuz achieved international acclaim with a North American tour, which was received with much excitement by the Arab-American and American community and yielded very positive reviews of the concerts.
Fairuz has performed in many countries around the globe and in many prestigious venues. The historic concert held at Beirut’s Martyr’s Square in September 1994 launched the rebirth of the downtown district that was ravaged by the civil war. In 1999, she performed at the MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas, where she is reported to have brought in the biggest crowd since Frank Sinatra. Well over 14,000 people were estimated to be inside the stadium and over 5,000 outside. In July 2007, Fairuz became the first artist from the Arab World to perform in Greece, at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, to a sold out venue filled with 9,000 people.
The rare flexibility of her voice that allows her to sing in both Arabic and Western modes brought her to the attention of Halim el Roumi, head of the Lebanese radio station who appointed her as a chorus singer at the radio station in Beirut. He went on to compose several songs for her and chose her stage name Fairuz, the Arabic word for turquoise.
Her most successful partnership was with the Rahbani brothers, Assi (who she married in 1995) and Mansour, who worked at the radio station as musicians. They wrote many songs for her including “Itab”, which was an immediate smash hit and established her as one of the most prominent singers in the Arab world.
Their work became more political in nature throughout the 70’s and the partnership lasted until 1979 when, due to Assi’s deteriorating health, the brothers agreed to end their professional and personal relationship and Fairuz began to work with a production team helmed by her son, Ziad Rahbani – who she continues to work to this day.
Fairuz is the Arab world’s most famous and most listened-to singer. For decades, almost all radio stations in the Arab world have been starting their morning broadcast with a Fairuz song.
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