Nouhad Wadie’ Hadad, known as Fairuz, is a Lebanese singer who is by far one of the most famous and loved singers in the Arab world. She continues to produce new songs and albums to this day, with her latest being Bebalee from 2017.


Fairuz was born to Wadi Haddad and Liza Alboustani in Jabal Alarz, Lebanon in 1935. The year of her birth has been subject to some doubt. [1] Her family was Christian. They family moved to Beirut when she a toddler. They were poor but not extremely so. Fairuz enjoyed singing from a young age, and she would sing along with songs from her neighbor’s radio. She liked Asmahan and Layla Mourad.

Fairuz joined the choir at her school. She went to the Hhawed Alwelaya Alrasmia Lilbanat school, which was known for its good choir. When Fairuz was 14, a pair of composer-songwriters, Mohamed and Ahmed Flayfel, came to choose singers for a choir for a radio program. They chose Fairuz. Fairuz’s father did not like the idea of Fairuz singing publicly, so it required some effort for Mohamed Flayfel to convince him. Mohamed told him Fairuz would only sing patriotic songs and her education at the national Conservatory would be paid for by him.

Fairuz’s father allowed her to enter the Conservatory. He sent her brother Joseph to escort her to school every day. The Conservatory’s director, Wadi Sabra, refused to accept any tuition for Fairuz and Flayfel’s other students. Fairuz only remained at the Conservatory for a few months. Her training under Flayfel’s guidance included the traditional art of reciting the Quran, which had also been used by the famous Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.[2]

Flayfel helped her join the choir of the national Lebanese radio station, a role for which she received a salary. Fairuz was auditioned for solo performances at the radio station. A manager at the station, Halim Elrumi, was impressed by her singing and gave her his own songs to sing, as well as songs by various others such as Medhat Asem, Mohamed Mohsen, Salim Elhelou, Nikola Almani. He recommended she use the public name of Shahrazad or Fairuz; she chose the latter. Elrumi introduced her to the composer-songwriters Assy and Mansour Rahbani. Assy was impressed, while Mansour was not.

In the 1950s, Assy and Mansour Rahbani started working with Fairuz. They had her do covers of Arabic songs and European songs with Arabic lyrics. Then they started making arrangements of traditional Lebanese songs, as well as new songs. Her performance of their song Itab on the radio was an instant hit and brought her great fame in Lebanon.

Assy and Fairuz developed romantic feelings for each other. They married in 1954 and Fairuz moved in with him in Antelias. Fairuz continues to live there to this day.

Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers became very famous. They were traveled to Damascus and Egypt following invitations by radio stations. In 1956, Fairuz gave birth to her first son, Ziad. In the 1960s, Fairuz starred in three films. Although she was famous, Fairuz favored a traditional lifestyle of staying at home with her children instead of going to parties and social events.

In 1971, Fairuz toured the USA and was received with great success. She toured many countries and every continent. In the late 1970s, Fairuz stopped working on new songs with Assy and Mansour due to worsened relations with them. She sang old songs by the Rahbani brothers, and new songs by her son Ziad, Zaki Nassif, and Mohamed Mohsen, and many others.

Fairuz chose to continue living in Lebanon throughout the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). She avoided singing in Lebanon for fear of getting involved in politics. Assy Rahbani passed away in 1986. After the war, she resumed holding concerts in Lebanon.

In 1998, Fairuz had a reunion with Mansour Rahbani and at the Baalbeck International Festival. She performed old musicals by the Rahbani Brothers, as well as three new songs by Mansour and his younger brother Elias.

Musical Style and Legacy

Fairuz has been noted for her refusal to be overtly involved in politics. She has sung in many styles and forms of Arabic music, as well as many jazz-inspired pieces. She has displayed great skill with both traditional (maqam, qasida, nasheed, andalusian) and modern (jazz, pop) varieties of music. She recorded Christian liturgical music as well. During performances, she limits her body movements and focuses on her singing. She once described her inner state while singing as similar to praying.


[1] http://www.fairuziat.com/fairouz/tribute/fb.html

[2] https://www.allmusic.com/artist/fairuz-mn0000163342/biography




Article written by me for Lunyr