One of the most famous musicians in Arab history is Fairuz. She was born on November 21st, 1935 in Jabal Al Arz, Lebanon. At a young age, her and her family moved to Beirut because her father obtained a job at a print house. Early in her youth, she realized her love for music; she loved singing along with the songs that would come on the radio. She especially enjoyed the songs of Asmahan and Layla Mourad. She often would surprise her community at social gatherings with her beautiful voice. Although her family was very poor, her father put aside money for Fairuz’s education, allowing her to go to school. Upon her arrival, she immediately decided to join her school’s choir. Many took notice of her talent.
In the early 1940s two veteran composers in charge of a radio program came to Fairuz’s school, searching for young talent to join their choir. After listening to the choir, they selected a few students, including Fairuz, to join the team. She enjoyed singing for the choir, and when they offered her the chance to try out for a solo performance she took full advantage of it. One of the stations managers, Halam Elrumi, realized Fairuz’s potential and started to give her songs of he composed to perform. Elrumi then presented her to Assy and Mansour Rahbani, the brothers in charge of the station. Assy also saw the potential in Fairuz, and by the year 1951, she had sung songs written by a multitude of famous composers. Then Assy started composing songs for her. A relationship blossomed between the two, and in July of 1954 they got married.
Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers’ fame started to rise around the entire Arab World. Showcasing the song “Itab,” they were invited to numerous radio stations across the Middle East to present their work, most notably the Damascus and Sawet Elarab radio stations. In 1955, the trio went to Cairo and wrote “Rajioun,” which is still considered one of the most important musical pieces of the time period. After returning to Beirut, on January 1st, 1956 Fairuz gave birth to her first son, naming him Ziad. From this point forward, she adhered to a very conservative lifestyle, preferring the idea of staying home with her son rather than going out to social gatherings.
In 1957, Fairuz sang “Libnan ya Akhder Helou” in Baalbek, Lebanon. This sparked a string of incredible works, leading the trio to the significant venues such as the Damascus festival, Casino Du Liban, Piccadilly Theater, and Cedars. Fairuz also hit the big screen, starring in three motion pictures in the 1960s. In 1971 she went on a successful tour in the United States, even gracing the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City. She also went on a tour that touched down on every continent. However, in the late 1970s, her work relationship with the Rahbani brothers was broken, and she moved on to singing the works of her son, Ziad, Zaki Nassif, or Mohamed Mohsen.
During the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990, Fairuz decided to remain in Beirut. She did not sing any songs in a public setting, refusing to show bias to any sides. A few years after the conclusion of the war, in 1994, she held a concert in Beirut. In 1998 she had some successful concerts in Baalbek. She continues to perform and remains a national symbol for Lebanon.
- Boulos, Sargon. “Origins of a Legend.” Al Mashriq.com. Accessed February 28, 2016. http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/700/780/fairuz/legend/biography.html.
- “Fairuz’s Biography.” Fairuziat.com. Accessed February 28, 2016. http://fairuziat.com/fairouz/tribute/fb.html.