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The Passing of Acclaimed Vocalist Fadwa Abeid: From Performing in the U.S. at an Early Age to an Accomplished Career in the Arab World

posted on: Jan 19, 2022

The Passing of Acclaimed Vocalist Fadwa Abeid: From Performing in the U.S. at an Early Age to an Accomplished Career in the Arab World
A young Fadwa Abeid at the outset of her music career in the U.S.

Arab American acclaimed vocalist Fadwa Abeid, who went from performing in the U.S. at a young age to becoming an accomplished vocalist in the Arab world, passed away in Michigan on January 14th, she was 83.

According to Arab America contributing writer, Richard Breaux, in his recollection about her early career, Abeid (Abaid, Ebeid, Obeid) was born in Los Angeles, California to Sadie Alhandy Abed and Joseph Abed. She was a second-generation US-born American on both sides. Her mother, Sadie Alhandy, was born in Port Huron, Michigan in 1912. Her father, Joe Abed, was born in Detroit the same year. Sadie Alhandy and Joe Abed wed in Los Angeles in January 1934. Joe worked as a candymaker and Fadwa was born a little more than a year after their wedding. On the heels of Fadwa’s birth, the family traveled to Lebanon at the request of her paternal grandfather–the family remained there for approximately ten years. Fadwa eventually returned to the United States with her mother and moved to Dearborn, Michigan.

Fadwa Abeid, with Detroit musicians Francis Saad, and Jalil Azzouz in 1956. Courtesy of Richard M. Breaux collection

As a young woman, she toured the U.S with a successful singing career and performed during the Hafla and Mahajan circuit of the mid-fifties and early sixties. She later emerged in the late sixties and seventies as an accomplished first-class vocalist in the Arab world singing compositions of Riyad Al-Sunbati, Baleegh Hamdi, and Farid Al-Atrash among many others. In 1971, she participated in the play “Ya Layl” by the poet George Jardaq, composed by Walid Gholmieh, as part of the Jbeil Festivals, alongside Joseph Azar and Duraid Laham.

Fadwa sang the song “Mal Al Helou Malo” by Fardi El Attrache

The most popular song of her career was Riyad Sunbati’s composition Labbayka Ya Rabbee. She once recalled her first meeting with Sunbati, “He seemed doubtful of my abilities and asked me to sing selections by Mohamed Abdel Wahab and Um Kulthoum of which I sang a rendition of Rubaiyat al Khayyam.” she said. Without much encouragement, Subati said goodbye to her. She went home that evening feeling rejected. The next morning Sunbati called her and offered to compose the song that would make her famous across the Arab world, Labbayka Ya Rabbee.

The Passing of Acclaimed Vocalist Fadwa Abeid: From Performing in the U.S. at an Early Age to an Accomplished Career in the Arab World
Fadwa Abeid circa 1980’s

Abeid retired briefly from her singing career with the outbreak of the 1975 civil war in Lebanon and immigrated back to America. She continued to perform from the eighties through the early nineties traveling on a periodic basis to Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. The eventual death of her father followed by the death of her mother, brought her singing career to an early end. Overridden later by confronting a serious illness, forced her retirement and abandonment of a celebrated musical career.

She later married retired Ford Motors Engineer, the late Tahir Mansour. She is survived by her step-children, Jamil (Diane), Dina Mansour-Cole (David), and Nadia Mansour-Fries (late John); and her grandchildren, Leyla, Evan, Meyessa, Jasmine and Hyder and by many cousins and close friends.

Read more about Fadwa Abeid:

Greater Syrian Diaspora at 78RPM: Fadwa Abeid

Compiled by Arab America

Arab America Contributing Writers, Warren David, and Richard Breaux contributed to this article.

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