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The Story of a Legend
Nouhad Haddad, born on November 20th 1934, was raised in a single room in an old cobblestone alley called "Zuqaq El Blat" in Beirut. Her extraordinary voice was admired at school, possessing a gentle power which turned simple hymns into ethereal melodies.
At one school party in 1947, a teacher from the Lebanese
Conservatory fell in love with her voice. She was appointed as a chorus singer by the head of the musicdepartment at the radio station - Al Rumi - who was astounded by her ability to sing both in Arabic and Western styles. She could memorise four pages of poetry in two hours.
Al-Rumi suggested the name Fairuz, meaning "turquoise," because he claimed Nouhad’s voice reminded him of a precious stone.
Al-Rumi composed Fairuz's first couple of songs, before introducing her to Assi Rahbani, a policeman and aspiring composer. Their collaboration established Fairuz as a major singer throughout the Arab world
overnight, with a melancholic song called "Itab" (Blame) which was recorded in Damascus on November 12 1952.
In the summer of 1957 Fairuz faced an audience in the open for the first time when she performed at the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek in front of the largest crowd that had ever gathered there. She has sung and acted in major Lebanese musicals, and the most renowned poets of the Middle East, such as Nizar Qabbani rushed to compose lyrics for her.
Since then, Fairuz has travelled to places which as a child she thought she could only ever know through her grandparents' stories. She has reached out to Arab immigrants in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York
and many other cities. In 1957, the Lebanese president Camille Shamoun presented her with the "Cavalier" - the highest medal ever bestowed upon a Lebanese artist. Fairuz has also been personally honoured by King Hassan II of Morocco, the mayor of Jerusalem and King Hussein of Jordan.
Fairuz continues to attend mass in the village church of Antilias and sing to the villagers. She remains "The Jewel of the Lebanon" and is a distinct power, untouched by any other musical artist of the region.