Good Morning Fairuz
By: Katie Teague/Arab America Contributing Writer
It’s early morning in the streets of Lebanon. As the shops begin to open and people sit for their first cup of coffee with one another, a voice begins to sing over the radio. But not just any voice! All mornings call for one artist and one artist alone; Lebanese idol Nihad Haddad, also known as Fairuz.
Fairuz has played a fundamental part in mornings around the Arab World since her rise to fame in the 1960s. Born in Beirut in 1935, Fairuz lived a simple childhood until her enrollment in a Lebanese music conservatory. Her voice was then discovered on a local radio station, after which she came into contact with the Rahbani Brothers. This partnership was key to Fairuz’s establishment in the music industry, and she soon became known for her unique angelic sound of her voice.
As Virginia Danielson, an expert on Middle Eastern music at Harvard University, explains in an interview with NPR:
“It [Fairuz’s voice] is extremely flexible…She can produce the kind of ornaments and the delicacies of pitch and intonation that are so much a part of Arab music with great ease, and her singing very often feels effortless.”
Using her innate gift, Fairuz embarked on a path of political activism. Part of her life had become embedded in Lebanon’s history since her rise to fame coincided with the beginnings of Lebanese independence from France. She remained impartial during the division of Beirut by “refus[ing] to take sides and not perform in Lebanon at all”. As a result, Fairouz spent most of this time giving performances elsewhere. She did, however, continue to produce songs out of love for her country. One of the most adored Fairuz pieces still treasured by the Lebanese is called “I Love You, Lebanon” (“Behebak Ya Libnan” in Arabic):
Fairuz is a Lebanese singer whose voice has swept the Arab World off its feet since she first began performing in the 1940s and ’50s. Traditionally played every morning, her music continues to serve as an iconic characteristic of the Arab identity. Here, she sings about the love she has for her beautiful home.
One must remember that Fairuz gained even more admiration and popularity from people around the Arab World because of her beloved song about Jerusalem (al-Quds), see below: Zahrat el Madaen (the flower of the minarets).
Clearly, the power of Fairuz’s music transcended boundaries. Despite the division and conflict in Lebanon, Fairuz was able to unite her people under a common love for their country. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Fairouz [eventually] remained in Lebanon, and her fame was bolstered by her decision not to leave during the war. With her ability to unite and her seeming impartiality, she came to represent Lebanon itself.”
As time progressed, Fairuz maintained a traditional style of music. In fact, she is known as “one of the last artists from the golden age of Arabic music”. Other artists who fall into this category include Umm Kalthom, whose music is listened to during the evenings, and Mohamed Abdel Wahab. Fairuz is also remembered for reviving the world of Musical Theater and Operattas. An article in Egypt Today explains how the partnership between Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers “grew to include musical sketches, films and plays such as “Mais El Reem” (The Deer’s Meadow), “Loulou,” “Biyaa’el Khawatem” (Ring for Sale), and “Hala Wi El Malek” (Hala and the King).” Overall, she had roles in 15 plays and three films.
It’s no wonder Fairuz has remained an icon all these years later. Her work as an artist and activist paved the way for a wave of Lebanese patriotism that would never be the same without her. To celebrate this, here is a list of Fairuz’s top fifteen greatest hits, compiled byHopefully, they will inspire you to hit play next time you start your day. After all, is it really a good morning without Fairuz?
1. Raj3in ya Hawa
2. Zahrat el Madaen
3. Ana w Shady
4. Ya Mina el Habayeb
5. Ya Ahl el Dar
6. Shat Iskenderia
7. Aqoul li Tiflati
8. Eswaret el 3arous
9. Dakhlak ya Teir el Werwar
11. Ya 3aqida el 7ajibayn
12. Ruddani ila biladi
13. Seni 3an seni
14. Baldati ghabaton jamila
15. 3allamouni 3al hobbak