The fact that there’s practically no one across the Middle East—nor elsewhere among Arabic speakers—who isn’t only familiar with, but also reveres the Lebanese singer and actress Fairouz, attests to her standing as a cultural icon in the region and beyond. Throughout an illustrious career spanning more than six stunning decades, the ‘Ambassador to the Stars’ has composed and released a vast body of work that’s far less easily expressed in numbers—unofficial estimates tally recorded songs at around 1,500 and albums at 80. Instantly recognisable and often termed ‘angelic’, her voice and songs of life’s hardships, the bittersweet toils of love, her native Lebanon and the plight of Palestine, have inspired countless contemporaries and disciples. Mentioned in the same breath as legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, the diva’s musical collaboration with late husband and composer Assi Rahbani spawned hundreds of unforgettable hits. Despite a lengthy studio hiatus and absence from the stage, her 2017 album, Bebalee, proves that the creative flame of this Arabic music idol still burns as brightly as ever.
BORNNovember 21, 1935