Friday, 8 February 2008

Fairuz: The Arab Diva of Love

I read with interest that the great singer of the Arab world Fairuz had performed in Damascus. If only I had been there to listen to her great voice. I was in Damascus in 1999 and have to say that I came across many a lovers of Fairuz's mesmerizing voice.

Fairuz (born: Nouhad Haddad) was born in 1935 to a modest Syriac Orthodox family. Fairuz is known as Ambassador to the Stars, The Arabs Ambassador, Neighbor to the Moon and Poet of the Voice. She has sang around 1500 songs and sold around 80 millions records worldwide. One commentator states; "To the Arab world Fairuz came suddenly, as a miracle. At a time when Arabic singing was weighed down with convention and predictability, and spirits were nationally at their lowest, her voice rang, as though from the beyond, the notes of salvation and joy. Arabic music has never been the same since. Nostalgic but vibrant, sad but defiant, folkloric and yet so new, hers has been for nearly 30 years perhaps the only voice that seems so capable of jubilation in an almost cosmic sense. By turns mystic and amorous, elegiac and fiery, her singing has expressed the whole emotional scale of Arab life with haunting intensity. Often singers give listeners pleasure, as they expect. She often gives them, beyond their expectation, ecstasy" Jabra Ibrahim Jabra.

I came across Fairuz during my masters study in Jerusalem studies. Her famous song about walking down the old streets of Jerusalem was something extraordinary for me at that time. I had not been to Jerusalem, let alone the Old City and now having been there four times in four years I can understand what she was singing about.

Fairuz sings a song in admiration of Mary, Mother of Jesus.

O virgin Mary
You transcended the sun and the moon
and each star traveling the skies

O mother of Jesus
O my mother, my hope
Don't let me down if I ever sin

O star of the morning
shine in our places of worship
And light up our minds, ears and eyes

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