22 AVRIL 2022
The Diva Faïrouz. Her real name Nouhad Haddad, she was born in the Zokak el Blat district of Beirut. The eldest of a modest Maronite family, she developed a passion for singing very early on. Her parents are too poor to afford the luxury of a radio, so she spends most of her time listening, her ear glued to the wall, to the neighbors. Nouhad quickly memorizes the songs she hears and gives a few samples at parties organized by her school. It was there that she seduced her comrades with her vocal abilities and that she was noticed in 1947 by the composer Mohammed Fleyfel. The echo of his velvety voice reaches Halim el Roumi, talent scout, renowned singer-songwriter and director of Lebanese Radio, who asks to audition him immediately. Literally fascinated, el Roumi introduced him to the choir of Radio Beirut, baptized it with the name of Faïrouz and became its appointed composer. Then, he introduces her to Assi el Rahbani, a young avant-garde composer who, in the company of his brother Mansour, wishes to renew a Lebanese song under profound Egyptian influence. The teenager Faïrouz succumbed to the personal charm of Assi, whom she married in 1954, and to that of his compositions (the model couple of Arab song would be separated by the death of their husband in 1986). The heavenly trio causes, from the publication of its first titles, a real musical revolution. Traditionalists howl at sacrilege and distortion while sympathizers of the rejuvenation and modernization of Lebanese folklore, weary of insipid refrains and pale copies, show their enthusiasm. In 1957, Faïrouz opened the International Festival of Baalbek (a locality mentioned in one of his flagship titles) and sang in the middle of the six columns of the Roman temple. This initial encounter with his audience, who warmly welcomed him, earned him the nickname "seventh column". Faced with this fabulous galloping success, the Rahbanis are stepping up their offensive and courageously playing the card of constant innovation. They wrote for Faïrouz musical sketches, operettas and, from 1962 to 1976, about fifteen sung plays in which she plays the role of a woman in love with Love, the true, the pure, the innocent. , and that of hope. She also appears in a few films but she quickly interrupts her cinematic odyssey. It is still and always one of the major references of Arabic song and many of its titles, such as "Bint el Chalabia", are hummed as much by the new generation as by the old.