Thursday, January 25, 2007

Your views, please...


I am calling on all my cyberfriends to help..

Some of you might know that I have three lovely children.. In their studies, they are pursuing very different careers.. my eldest daughter is a 'pure' scientist.. she is a PhD Student in Genetics / Molecular Biology, a field that is far too cerebral for a simple-minded guy like me.. My son is in his Third Year at Medical School.. (he wouldn't listen to his old man and do Accountancy instead!..). My younger daughter, (she and my son are twins), is doing something completely different.. She is an accomplished musician, and is in her final year at University, studying World and Popular Music.. At the moment, she is up to her eyeballs preparing her dissertation, which is about Fairuz, the public perception of Fairuz and the impact of her music on the Arab society.. It started as an attempt to look at the role of feminine voices in Arabic music, and slowly morphed to this current topic..

And here is where you, my dear cyberfriends, can help...

Dana is collating views of people who grew up listening to Fairuz, (whether they like her work or not, so this includes you, Abu Fares!..), and she has set a few questions that I would be grateful if you could spare a few moments to answer..

The questions are not aimed at academics of Ethnomusicology, nor necessarily at professional musicians, although the views of such illustrious company would be greatly welcome and highly appreciated.. The questions are aimed at the rest of us.. those who grow up listening to the songs of Fairuz, and the music of the Rahbani brothers.. Whether you like Fairuz or not, Dana is really looking at your perception of Fairuz and the effects of her work on Society.. So, your views and your answers will be of immense help for Dana..

Dana loves her music, and enjoys what she does immensely.. She is very serious about her music.. She is planning to do a Masters degree next year, and the topic is likely to be a major expansion on the topic of her dissertation.. She will probably end up writing a definitive book on Fairuz, as, she assures me, there is nothing like this written about her!.. (whereas so much has been written about Um Kulthoum, for example..)

Anyway, and without any further digression (digression??.. Moi?!...), here are the questions:-

  • What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?

  • What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)


  • Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?


  • Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?


  • Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?


  • "Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?


  • Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?


  • Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?
This last question, in particular, brought back some very deep-seated emotions.. I heard the song live when Fairuz sang it, for the first time, at Damascus International Fair Festival in August 1967.. mere months after the fall of Jerusalem.. Even as a lad of ten, I was overwhelmed by the power of the song and the emotions it evoked.. Now, almost 40 years later, every time I hear it, I still get goosebumps, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on their ends... but, again, I digress...

So, my friends.. do you think you can spare a few minutes to answer these questions??.. Please feel free to be as brief or detailed as you like.. but please be faithful to your real feelings about the topic..

Thank you very much, my friends.. I know I can count on you..

(Photo by SB: Dana, November 2003)

21 comments:

Ihsan said...

I love Fairuz, so I will gladly help....here we go


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What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?

Fairuz is my number one singer. Her music touches me so deep.

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What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc).

I like the combination of all, her voice is great, the lyrics, most of them, are even greater...and not to forget that she is associated, to me, with my childhood; as I grew up listening to her songs every morning on the radio. It simply takes me back to the past, to my childhood and to my father who was the one to turn on the radio in the mornings.


------------------
Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?
I would say a mix of elements, Al Rahabani brothers, her voice, her songs, the timing, the need of the Arabs audiences for someone like her at a certain time.



------------------
Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?
Because she sang for Palestine and this "forgotten" case was for many years, the most uniting for Arabs (they never were actually united but metaphorically speaking and for the sake of arts ;) On the street levels, she managed to get to all the Arabs through the door of Palestine... sanarje3 yawman...


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Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?

To some, I would think so, like people from that class would definitely look up at her as a role model, or as a hope, especially that Fairuz is not known to be an arrogant celebrity. But again, if she had been born with a golden spoon yet with the same skills, gifts and traits, her popularity wouldn't have been any less.


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"Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?

I don't think she did, she sang about our Arabs cases, Palestine and wars, she sang about our country, my city, Damascus.....she sang about love, she sang the beautiful Lebanese folklore. But I don't see her songs as about "our daily life", they simply don't fit to be described so.



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Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?

They definitely had a positive effect on her, after all those people were great composers. But again, nobody can tell if she would have been as successful without them, as she might have had others who might have been as good as al Rahbani brothers.


------------------
Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?

That song, is one of my favorite songs ever, I listen to it every time I put on Fairuz music, yet, never cease to bring a chill to my body.
Few years ago I was in a cab heading home in Damascus, just the moment the cab arrived at my place the songs was on the radio….so I just couldn't leave the car and so I asked him just to drive for few more minutes until the song was over, luckily the meter was one though.
I love Fairuz, so I will gladly help....here we go


---------------------
What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?

Fairuz is my number one singer. Her music touches me so deep.

------------------
What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc).

I like the combination of all, her voice is great, the lyrics, most of them, are even greater...and not to forget that she is associated, to me, with my childhood; as I grew up listening to her songs every morning on the radio. It simply takes me back to the past, to my childhood and to my father who was the one to turn on the radio in the mornings.


------------------
Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?
I would say a mix of elements, Al Rahabani brothers, her voice, her songs, the timing, the need of the Arabs audiences for someone like her at a certain time.



------------------
Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?
Because she sang for Palestine and this "forgotten" case was for many years, the most uniting for Arabs (they never were actually united but metaphorically speaking and for the sake of arts ;) On the street levels, she managed to get to all the Arabs through the door of Palestine... sanarje3 yawman...


------------------
Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?

To some, I would think so, like people from that class would definitely look up at her as a role model, or as a hope, especially that Fairuz is not known to be an arrogant celebrity. But again, if she had been born with a golden spoon yet with the same skills, gifts and traits, her popularity wouldn't have been any less.


------------------
"Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?

I don't think she did, she sang about our Arabs cases, Palestine and wars, she sang about our country, my city, Damascus.....she sang about love, she sang the beautiful Lebanese folklore. But I don't see her songs as about "our daily life", they simply don't fit to be described so.



------------------
Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?

They definitely had a positive effect on her, after all those people were great composers. But again, nobody can tell if she would have been as successful without them, as she might have had others who might have been as good as al Rahbani brothers.


------------------
Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?

That song, is one of my favorite songs ever, I listen to it every time I put on Fairuz music, yet, never cease to bring a chill to my body.
Few years ago I was in a cab heading home in Damascus, just the moment the cab arrived at my place the songs was on the radio….I just couldn't leave the car, so I asked the driver just to drive for few more minutes until the song was over, luckily the meter was one which is not common these days in Damascus.
--------------------

Done

dancing solo said...

I like the post; I hope Dana will do well. I would like to help, since Fairuz is my best singer and I know all its songs...

for the questions

- Fairuz is one of the best voices that I ever heard she has a special and unique voice that could be distinguished easily; Fairuz voice is very smooth and sweet. Technically, she is very expert, trained singer, because she performed several pitches, rhythms, and patterns of music. The divergence of here music is very remarkable.

Fairuz music cannot be classified in one category, she sings from more one musical school, she performed tones from Western and Eastern beats. Most of Fairuz music was composed by Rahbani Brothers ( her husband Assi and his brother Mansor), her son Ziad Rahabani, Filmon Wahbee, Zaki Nassif, Folklores and many more. The Lyrics was written by Rahbani Brothers, some famous Arabic poems like Gibran Khalil Gibran, Nezar Khabani, Saed Akal, Talal Hidar, and many more. Of course, I forget many composers, and song lyricists.

Most Fairuz songs, explain a real life stories, talk about simple emotions and life stories. That makes her music a unique phenomenon in the Arabic World.

- Fairuz Music enter the Middle Eastern disclosure on the daily life bases, because it is very simple, and relate most people to daily activities. I always fascinated of how people sometimes will answer some question by singing some Fairuz songs. It is every Middle Eastern life story.

- Fairuz’s popularity is undeniable, and it is related to both the subjects that her music touched, and the simple tones of the rhythms that she sings. The subjects of the songs as I said was simple, talks about love, patriotism, homeland, poorness, and simple life. The tones was mixed of Eastern and Western tones, some was from Syrian/Lebanese Folklore, also some of the tones was directly from the religious praying tones (Byzantine’s tones), so that makes more accepted by Middle Eastern people.

- Fairuz patriotic songs were one of the main factors that helped her popularity in the Middle East. The period that Fairuz started to become as a famous figure, was in mid-seventies, where the nationalism idea was the most popular political ideology. The Arab-Zionist conflict was in its peak. The old Arabic music by Um Kulthum, Muhammad Abdul Alwahab, and many more started to become heavy for the Arabic listener and did not fit the revolutionary era to some extend. Then the rise of new kind of music, and it was a good one was necessary. All the previous reasons was part of Fairuz popularity.

- I have no opinion about the poor background of Fairuz and its effect on her popularity, sorry.

- The argument and/or correlation between Fairuz and Rahbani Brother Music are very intuitive dilemma. For most people, they relate Fairuz and Rahbani Brother, but the facts that some of Fairuz famous songs were not composed by them. To some extend Fairuz and Rahbani Brother compliment each other. It is very complicated concept; I think without Fairuz, Rahbani Brothers Music would not be that famous. In addition, without Rahbani Brothers, Fairuz could not be the famous public figure.

- Zahrat Al-Mada’en, this is very emotional question to me. I have been listening to this song for 10 years. The first song every morning-Fairuz always associated with morning too- for the last ten years I have been listening to Zahrat Al-Mada’en. I was sixteen when I first heard this song, I cannot explain the feeling that I get everyday after listening to Zahrat Al-Mada’en. Let me put this way, each one of us find his/her motivator, for some religions, for some money, and each has his/her own. Fairuz and specifically Zahrat Al-Mada’en is my motivator to good day start, and good work when I feel down. It makes me laugh, cry and have mixed emotion, but it gives me peace, the beat is amazing, at least for me.

I hope I helped a little…

I think this book has good info about Fairuz, but not sure how helpful the book could be
http://www.shira.net/bookrvws/arabicmusic.htm

abufares said...

To Dana
Since this is one of the few opportunities for me to voice my opinion in a democratic manner, I will say it all.
I hope you get a diverse range of respondents to formulate an acceptable and unbiased hypothesis.

Q- What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?
A-Fairuz is too stiff to perform. She has no charisma whatsoever on stage. Watching her gives me the creeps. There must be a few good songs out of the hundreds she sang over the years. But in general I dislike her music.

Q-What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)
A-All of the above. I detest her voice more than any other single factor. The lyrics are obscenely naïve and void of any significant meaning. The Rahbani Bros. music is often plagiarized from international sources without any reference or credit. And, most importantly we were force-fed too much of her as I was growing up. She became background noise for me.

Q- Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?
A- I really think that the Lebanese excellence in self-promotion (both deserved and undeserved) plus the Syrian official and public embracing of Fairuz annually at the Damascus International Fair in her early days are greatly responsible for her popularity. I have to respect that she has never appeared vulgar and has successfully portrayed herself in an aloof image. This must’ve also contributed positively to her special status.

Q- Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?
A- For lack of a better light alternative. There was either real Tarab music, mainly the Egyptian school and to a lesser degree the Shami (Syrian+Lebanese) and Iraqi varieties or irrelevant mediocre noises from the same sources. Then came the Rahbanis whose real gift was the stage they produced rather than the music they composed, in my humble opinion, and under their banner a whole new school of acceptable albeit overly glorified genre emerged. Fairuz was a welcome compromise between the morbidity of classical Arabic music and the vainness of the emerging contemporary one. The timing of her appearance was a lucky strike.

Q- Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?
A- Almost all Arab performers come from poor backgrounds. Singing was, and still to a large extent is, a profession thought after by the disadvantaged classes in the Arab world. Asmahan and Farid Atrash were the exception rather than the rule. In a similar way to the US model where the underprivileged dream of making it big in the world of sports, the singing majority of Arabs comes from very poor backgrounds. Fairuz’s background neither benefited nor distracted from her popularity.

Q- "Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?
A- I disagree. She sang about an imaginary Levantine rural lifestyle. If this lifestyle ever existed, it must’ve been in the late 19th to early 20th century. Except there is yet another inconsistency, the Rahbanis were unable to truly portray the general poverty prevalent in those days. Their image was too rosy to the point of nausea.

Q- Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?
A- She would’ve been just another girl in the chorus.

Q- Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?
A- I personally think this and “Ghanaytou Makata” are her best songs ever. Zahrat Al-Mada’en is part of my childhood. I was just a kid then and I learned to like both songs much later when I was living in the US. I don’t dislike Fairuz out of stubbornness now that I am a middle aged man. I love good Arabic music, in particular the Egyptian classical school. I also like many genres in Western music. I have no place in my mind or heart for either The Rahbanis or Fairuz, that’s all.

Omar said...

hey, anything for a fellow academic, especially if she happens to be the daughter of the great Syrian Brit.

here you go

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What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?

I find that Feiruz's songs don't follow a steady pattern.. sometimes the music and lyrics are too simplistic and too primitive, and sometimes they are deeper, but still resonating with an older generation's mindset. as a live performer, I think that she lacks the stage presence, and that with age, her voice is starting to sound too wek and has to be backed up by the chorus.




What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)
i like the songs that were written as poetry (especially those by Said Akel), but i dislike her voice tone, I dislike the simplicity and primitive emotions and moral values she presents.. especially in her early work.



Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?

I think that in her period of time, she was the only one that was speaking in the common people's language, she was in plays and on TV plays which made her closer to people.. and she was talking about the "pure" mountain village environment that presented a model that might have been strange to people in that period. As for contemporary listener, it is more the reputation and forced listening that made people appreciate her as a ritual (listening to her on the radio in the mornings, etc..)
her music was never a dance-to music, or a mood music. it was more an all-times kind of entertainment.



Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?

I attribute more of her sucess to the avant-garde musical experience that the Rahbanis have presented. it was more the music that resonated with people's ears, and the fact that she was younger, more attractive, and more fashionable than the other performers in her era.



Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?
most of those who appreciate Fairuz's art don't know much about her story and background.. it was the character of the poor village girl that was attractive to people since it presented the model for the pure and simplistic life that was starting to slip away in societies that were growing more complex and more stressed with the wars and political situation in the middle east.




"Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?

no, Fairuz sang about the perfect everyday life.. a utopia where good people don't get hurt and the good guys win at the end.
refer to a sketch by her own son, Ziad in his "bi hal shakl" radio show. he talks to Lebanese expats and he tells them that upon their return they shouldn't expect the image of Lebanon the Rahbanis have presented through their work.. don't expect to find Fatek al mutsallet (a character from one of the plays) checking yuour luggage on the customs at the airport, and don't expect Hala wal Malek (another two characters) to greet you at immigration. This sketch (which is much longer and richer than I listed here) answers a lot about the question



Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?

No, i think that Fairuz was the public face for the Rahbanis. without them, she would have been another normal Lebanese singer.



Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?

I heard the song when I was very little, and I didn't know that it was about Jerusalem.. I liked it as a song but I didn't add the emotional side to it as I didn't know it existed at all.

GraY FoX said...

First of all , Allah Ykhally, w Inshallah You get the chance to taste the success of your grand children, and i vote for Your genetic student daughter cuz that's the most interesting major for me :)
but still a Masters about Fairouz's Music would be a huge step, and i vote strongly for it , especially that Fairouz's music and songs were involved in lots of phases and historical events on one hand, and on the other hand comes the variety of her songs and the subjects that they talk about.
I'll answer your questions even though I don't know if i'm meant to answer or not :S

Q- What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?
A- The music is amazing, ( whether Ziad's Or Mansour's composed music which are two different schools ) , the combination of that music and Fairouz's voice helps me meditate and get my soul highly intoxicated with pleasure, just the right vibrations to start my day with.

Q- What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)
A- all in all, mostly amazing, what's really special about her songs, that you can always find what really gets you relaxed when you need it, dance when you feel like it, and go down in a pool of memories when you sit back with eyes closed.

Q- Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?
A- as mentioned earlier , lyrics , music , feelings , and above this , comes tradition, cuz we have see all our ancestors growing up with fairouz

Q- Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?
A- Fairouz's music and songs were released to all arab people, youngesters and elders, no matter what religion or political point of view , simplicity and variety

Q- Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?
A- I dont think it effected her popularity since most of people do not know that about fairouz, but i guess that affected fairouz's music to be simpler which in its turn increased her populairty

Q- "Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?
A- I do agree, because her songs werent talking about certain events, the genius school of Rahbani made a world of no-time no-place no-belonging feelings, close to Gibran's way of thinking :)

Q- Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?
A- Success always comes from team work, I believe she would have succeeded but with a less achievement level

Q- Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?
A- the timing was something as i heard from my parents ( since i didnt exist back then at 1967 ), still as a new aged dude, it has some impact on me, since it's about a story of people, a story that has changed the face of the world

Hope I helped :)

DUBAI JAZZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DUBAI JAZZ said...

Dear Syrian Brit, here's my input on this subject, good luck to your daughter:
Q- What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?
A- I don't mind her, she was one of those things that I have grown up with. in a nutshell I would say that she's overrated.

Q- What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)
A- Her national songs (Jabal Al Shiekh, Khabtet Admekun, Iswaret Aroos) are the most interesting as far as I am concerned. It's apparent that she picked her lyrics very carefully, her composers are good too, I would say that both elements (lyrics and composition) are better than her voice.

Q- Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?
A- Well, her family name was significant when she made her debut in the arena of Levantine Music (although I think it's her husband's name not hers?), if I remember carefully, she only sang in Lebanese lingo or straight formal Arabic. In addition to that, the overwhelming notion that 'everything Lebanese is cool' has helped greatly.

Q- Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?
A- Well, the Rahbani family name has helped, as I mentioned above, and it is also because she managed to deliver something NEW. It's self-evident that she was different, and she came at a time when the musical scene in the Arab world needed fresh ideas. She was a 'fresh idea' in her own way.

Q- Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?
A- I wasn't around when she made her debut, she was already famous when I was old enough to distinguish good music. It's well known that the admiration for her has become inherent and accumulative through the years.

Q- "Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?
A- She did in a sence, I agree with the statement, and I think it has to do with her village background.

Q- Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?
A- She wouldn't have been able to make this far without the Rahbanis. That's for sure.

Q- Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?
A- It had a strong emotional impact and it still does, the thing is about Fairous is that she picked the subjects very carefully, and in fairness to her, she was a woman of Conventions I believe, she believed in what she sang, specially when it came to Pan Arab issues.

Golaniya said...

Mashalla, alla ykhalilak hal wlad. I'd be glad to help.

Q-What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?
I like the songs she sings, but I am not attached to her as a person as much as I am to the songs. Because I know she didn't compose nor write any of her songs, so that makes her a singer really. Plus, I am kind of mad at her; in the last few years, she did not literally sing in front of her audience, the recorder was playing and she was moving her lips. I disrespect that. So I focus on the songs, not on her persona.
Q-What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)
I like her voice a lot, especially with the Lebanese "White" (not sectarian) dialect. Which is a rare right now. I appreciate her patriotic songs, but I think her voice thickens as she is singing such genre. I adore her village girl songs, I think that's her type, folklore. I also like her jazz songs, that is, Ziad's songs.


Q-Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?
Well, I think the Rahbanis' started performing their musicals during the Lebanese civil war, the musicals addresses the Lebanese people's agonies, disappointments. On a broader level, the Rahbani musical also, addresses the Nakba, Naksa and the Arab-Israeli struggle. Fairouz becomes a metaphor of Arab people's aspirations.

Q-Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?
I think this question is linked to the former one, so I guess the above answer is sufficient.

Q-Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?
I haven't known uptill now that she is from a poor background. So I think her background is irrelevant.

Q-"Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?
I think it did, in the 80s, maybe in the 90s, but not now. I think Fairouz falls into an imagery Arab life, or imaginary Lebanese life, instead.

Q-Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?
Honestly, no. I think Rahbanis are the success, Ziad too, but she has the voice, that's it.

Q-Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?
Yes, I remember, my boyfriend gave me the CD to hear the song, I think I cried, I heard the song during the second Intifada, so the song had a huge emotional impact on me. And honestly, I sometimes avoid listening to it, I sometimes cannot deal with the song's consequences.

Good luck with your daughter's thesis, perfect topic.

Rime said...

Forget Fairuz, there are more important things to say: Dana is beautiful!

I frankly can't think of any intelligent comment to add, as I think you've got a great selection already (but I'll come back if I remember a good point). You might want to try a few Lebanese blogs as well, to gauge the feelings there. Something tells me they will be even more flowery. :)

Is she interested in non-Arab views on Fairuz? Peter Gabriel and his Real World label is a good starting place (they're in Bath), but I'm sure she already knows that.

The Syrian Brit said...

Thank you all so, so much.. This is great.. I really appreciate all your great comments and amazing views.. I am sure Dana will be delighted with your contributions..
And Rime, thank you very much for the nice words.. and I agree!.. She is beautiful.. and very clever.. and what's more, she is such a lovely person, too.. (Did I mention that I am very proud of her?..)

Fahooood said...

good luck! I hope my comments will add something!

What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer?
I like her performance. The proud way she stands on stage when signing. The way she dresses make me see her like an Oriental Queen. I never fancied her though, I see her as a holy mother image. I don’t have a picture of her in my room but have considered it!
Do you like or dislike her music?
I like her music so much. I grew up listening to her and was always moved by the music. Now that I live away from home, I get so emotional and homesick when I listen to her.
What is it about her music that you like/dislike?
I like the music, the lyrics, and the world she takes me to.
Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?
I think it must have been the love behind the scenes. In my view, every successful work needs love. There was love between Assi and Fairuz, between the borthers, and between the 3-member team and the other people involved. Talent is essential but not enough!
Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?
For me, it is the simplicity of the music/lyrics and the attachment to our daily life that made her popular. Fairuz gave us dreams and took us away from our harsh world. Her world was just and beautiful so I could sing about meeting a lover when I could only talk to a girl on the phone!
Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?
I don’t think it has affected her popularity directly. Her background must have given originality to her experience though.
"Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?
I agree with the statement. I sing Layali El Shemal El 7azineh (the sad nights of the windy winter) when I am depressed in London. I sing Bokra Lamma B Yerja3o El Khyaleh (tommorow when the cavaliers come back home) when I wish I am at home, and I can’t help singing “Ana Sar Lazem Wadde3kon” (I have to say goodbye now) when I am leaving Syria!
Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?
I agree. I don’t think she would be as successful.
Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?
I do remember that the song moved me when I first heard it at school. I came back home and asked dad for the lyrics and memorized them. It does not appeal to me any more!

Philip I said...

Interesting topic that no Syrian or Lebanese can possibly ignore! Writing a book about Fairuz is a great idea.

What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?

Not really much of a performer, a little stiff on stage with few facial expressions but nevertheless has great presence and has earned the love and respect of millions worldwide across two generations. I have always loved her music.


What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)

The voice is angelic, the lyrics, especially those based on classical Arabic poetry (e.g Muwashahat) inspire pride in our history, stir the emotions and penetrate deep into the spirit. The lyrics of most of the songs in her early career where light-hearted, innocent and fun and that went well with the music. Unfortunately things began to go downhill from the 1980s onwards both in terms of the quality of music and lyrics. I blame her son for that.


Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?

The music, lyrics and personality somehow blended together into a magic alexir that almost everyone in the emotional Middle East (and beyond) wanted to drown their soul in! Fairuz is all about love, sorrow, national pride, faith and celebration. She touched and expressed the deep feelings of the masses. The Rahbani successfully fused European and Arabic harmony and rhythm, which naturally went down well with millions of Syrians and Lebanese both at home and abroad.

Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?

Her music is unique. You can call it sophisticated easy listening and a refreshing departure from the endless and largely monotonic Arab ballads and mawals.


Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?

Not many people knew about her upbringing but almost everyone knew that her husband was a gambler and an alcoholic (I guess most artists nowadays are expected to be that way inclined!). She remained faithful, dignified and aloof and totally committed to her music and high ideals and professional standards. She would not be bought by any one or any politician.

"Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?

Not always. The Muwashahat and her religious music for example were not all about everyday life.


Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?

They were definitely a team. She would have been successful but perhaps not so famous because the Rahbani music is rather unique.


Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?

I do remember the first time I heard it. I liked parts of it, but it did not send shivers down my spine. I guess because I was a little too young to appreciate its full significance and the style was quite different to what I had been used to.

The Syrian Brit said...

Fahooood and Philip I,
Thank you both very much indeed for your contributions.. Both Dana and I are grateful for your time and trouble..

Ayman said...

• What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?
I just love Fairouz! She has the greatest voice and greatest music of all.

What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)
Voice, lyrics, musics but most of all, the feelings. Fairouz and the Rahbanis excelled in touching the hearts of millions around the Arab world with simple but deeply meaningful lyrics brought to the world by the angel voice of Fairouz. Ask any expatriate what he/she feels when Fairouz sings فزعانة يا قلبي أكبر بهالغربة وما تعرفني بلادي before she goes خدنييييييي... خدني على بلادي sending shivers down your spine! Very simple lyrics but very touching, very close to the heart. She sang about emotions, she has songs that suit every emotional state one can have. Take this part from كنا نتلاقى: يا سنين اللي رح ترجعيلي... ارجعيلي شي مرة ارجعيلي وردّي لي ضحكات اللي راحوا.. اللي بعدها بزوايا الساحات.. وانسيني ع باب الطفولة تأركض بشمس الطرقات. Genius lyrics! Simple and genius at the same time!

• Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?

The Rahbanis and pre-civil war Lebanon: the atmosphere of freedom that it provided was a perfect growth environment for creativity.

• Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?

I don’t think so. The reason she was popular among the rich and poor, young and old, Muslim and Christian, in cities and villages, was that she sang for everybody. She sang to Arabic and Western tunes, dabkeh and jazz. She sang in standard and spoken Arabic. She sang about Beirut and about the countryside. She sang for Christmas and Eid. And I add one more thing: Fairouz sang for homelands and people. She never sang for governments or leaders. Her songs about Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and other Arab countires do not include any praise for leaders or governments, unlike most other Arabic national songs (Egypt’s giants like Umm Kulthoum, Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim all sang for Nasser or/and Sadat).

• "Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?

Yes she did. I agree with Omar that in some cases Fairouz sang about life that is more beautiful than ours. Many of her songs make you think of a beautiful calm Lebanese village on a hilltop, with everybody living in happiness and peace. But also look at her songs about the Lebanese civil war and the sadness expressed in many other songs. Examples include يا هوا بيروت، كنا نتلاقى، شادي، في قهوة عالمفرق and all the songs about Palestine.

• Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?

Of course. They were behind the great music and in most cases, the genius lyrics.

• Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?

The first time I heard it was during the early years of the first intifada (1988 or 1989). The song was frequently used in army recruiting ads on Syrian TV. I remember the screen showing Jerusalem’s shiny Dome of the rock, then soldiers training, crawling, climbing walls and jumping over burning tires, while fairouz sang الغضب الساطع آت. A kid, I was filled with pride and thought that الغضب الساطع will really fall upon the enemy in Jerusalem! The part that moved me most (and still does) was لن يقفل باب مدينتنا فأنا ذاهبة لأصلي. It was filled with hope; although fake one, I later realized.

The Syrian Brit said...

My friends, Dana has asked me to pass on her sincere thanks, along with the message below:

Dear All,
Salamaat!
Thank you all so so much for spending time answering my questions! Every single response has provoked more thoughts to add to my dissertation, so once again,
thank you!
In particular, Abu Fares from Tartous and Omar Faleh in Montreal: thank you for creating a new dimension to my argument! Your answers, although many wouldn't
agree with them, have proved invaluable. And also, thank you Jon Massouh in Philadelphia for recommending the book, I will definatley be looking there for
more information. And Rime, thank you for your lovely comments, and for reccomending the Real World label...I can't believe I never thought of that, it would certainly be interesting to include non-Arab opinions on Fairuz!
And thank you Baba for passing my questions on to your friends, Allah ykheleelna yak, ya rab!
Anyway, thanks again everyone for all your help!
Dana xx

p.s Dana sent this before I had passed to her Ayman's comments. I am sure she is equally grateful for your kind help, Ayman

GottfriedStutz said...

OK, I hope this does not come too late. I'm all too happy to help Dana and you. Here are my answers:

What is your opinion of Fairuz as a performer? Do you like or dislike her music?

Fairuz' voice and natural stage presence make her a great performer, in my opinion. True, she has lost some of the high notes, but she is still a far cry (no puns intended) from most performers. She conveys a very wide range of feelings through an incredibly wide range of styles. She makes the song completely hers, even when it is written by Sayyed Darwish.
Her music is not strictly speaking her music. It is Aasi's, Philemon's, Zaki's or Ziad's. Generally, I like that music very much, and I think that they understood her voice deeply, but it's hard to be objective and neutral there. Philemon Wahbi's compositions have something different which I like very much. What it is exactly, I don't know, but try to play "Tiirii yaa Tayyaarah" on any instrument and you'll understand what a genius he is.

What is it about her music that you like/dislike? (e.g. her voice, the lyrics, the music, feelings associated with the music, etc.)

Now that we agree (I hope) that her music is not her music, but that being written for her and appropriated by her, it becomes hers, let me say what I like: Dreamy and creative arrangements ("yaaraa" or "Tarii2 en-na7el" even border on psychedelia, in my opinion), the voice of course but most impressively the range ("yaa Tayr" is a good example - it takes my breath away, literally), memories (here we go again being subjective, but didn't we all listen to her songs in the morning?), and the strongly visual component which is no wonder concsidering that she performed in many musicals. Also, Fairuz interacts beautifully with a number of other singers. Most memorable are probably her collaborations with the late, and great, NaSrii Shams Ed-Diin.
What I don't like: The few bad moments when the songwriters were short on inspiration, especially in the musicals. Sometimes, the tune was oversimplified and too banal. (Examples: parts of "al-ma7abbah",
"yaa 7erriyyi"). There are also very few uninspired covers which should have never exited in my opinion, the worst of them being the "yaa 2anaa yaa 2anaa" take on Mozart. Fairuz doesn't bring anything new here, and the arrangements are sloppy. That happened again with Ziad when she sang to his arrangement of the Vladimir Coma tune "Les feuilles mortes". Yuk! Also, when the Ra7baanis indulged in patriotism, this was a trifle too painful to hear. Last issue: Let's face it - on a few occasions, some of the Rahbani's lyrics were too enigmatic, and sounded like fillers rather than meaningful words.

Fairuz's popularity and success are beyond question. What do you think contributed to this?

Is there any aspect of our lives which has not found an echo in Fairuz' songs? Love, nostalgia, home, humour, anger (with a vengeance!), history (romanticised, of course), politics, corruption, loss (of land, of a dear person...), death, lullabies, joy, religious celebrations...
Fairuz is very resilient. She sang in different styles, and with different composers. When Ziad shocked people with his jazzy arrangements, she just assumed that, and even sounded as if she is enjoying the experience. Now, at the comfortable age of 70, she is still experimental.
Beyond the songs, Fairuz as a person remained very much a mythical figure: an uncrowned queen (the dresses in her concerts), a very expressive voice without any movement on stage, the slightest hint of a furtive smile, the very rare interviews (she has the reputation of being a very tough interviewee). She was also a uniting figure all through the civil war in Lebanon, refusing to take sides and pursuing her artistic journey. Her refusal to make videos in the age of the clip adds to her myth and, strangely, to her image. This is what the video clip artist do not understand.

Fairuz was extremely important on the music scene across the Arab world. Why do you think this was?

The same reasons I mentioned above: Talent and myth. Also, while other singers had ups and downs or hiatus periods, she kept touring and recording. Another important fact is her concerts abroad, in Europe and North America mainly. She and the Rahbanis understood the importance of reaching out to the emigrant communities. One last reason is that she became associated with a cause that most Arabis hold very dear: Palestine. In every demonstration, you hear Fairuz. When she sings "sanarji3u yawman", people weep like children.

Fairuz was a village girl and was from a poor background. Do you think this affected her popularity, and why/why not?

I don't know, actually. May be. She came from outside the usual circuits. More important than the financial background in my opinion are her roots in the Christian religious song. She sang in churches, and that gave a novel hue to her songs.

"Fairuz sang about our everyday life". Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?

Yes, I agree. Not only she sang about people's avery day life, but she sang and still their daily life. Hope I'm making myself clear. When she says "shou baddii bil-blaad, w-2allah ykhallii l-oulaad", she expresses the secret feelings of many people.

Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers were a team. Do you agree with this? Do you think Fairuz would have been as successful without the Rahbanis?

Yes, I agree. There were in fact two teams: The inner circle with AaSi and ManSour, and the outer one with other composers. When AaSi died and ManSour couldn't really write alone (he is more a man of lyrics than of music writing), a new Rahbani team was born with Ziad.
Do I think Fairuz would have been as successful? Tough question since you can't turn back the clock, but my guess is "no" in the sense that the Rahbani team was a unique fusion of talents which boosted each other.

Zahrat Al-Mada’en was a particularly significant song due to the timing of its first performance (a few months after the fall of Jerusalem in 1967). Do you remember the first time you heard it? What emotional impact, if any, did it have on you?

I think that I heard it around 1972. It gave me the shivers back then, even if I was able to understand neither all the lyrics nor the context, and it still does.

Hope I wasn't too talkative?!!!

The Syrian Brit said...

Thank you very much, GS, for your contribution.. Your input is very much appreciated, both by Dana and by myself....

I love Munich said...

Eventhough I am a TOTAL outsider in this distinguished group, I must say I enjoyed to read the opinions! I personally like Fairouz even though I don't know MOST of her songs ...

BEST of luck to Dana :-)!!!

The Syrian Brit said...

Karen,
Thank you very much for your kind wishes.. and for your views on Fairuz..
By the way, somehow, I do not see you as an outsider at all!.. Reading your posts and your comments, I think I can honestly say that you are one of us!..

MomTo5 said...

this was intresting!
i really like Fairuz,some months ago,i had an Fairuz cd on and my 9 year old daughter surprised me when she started to sing whith me,i asked her,how did you learn the song and she told me that the sing it in the school,she goes to an UNWRA school in a Palestinian camp/Syria.


/Johanna,listening to
Majida El Roumi and the song Habibi right now.

George Hanna said...

Hi Danna
I was trying (as usual) to hunt for a forgotten song here and there when the cyber swirl threw me at your site . am probably the age of your dad and as hooked to Fairuz . Like your old man I grew up listening to the heavenly voice and to the sublime music and i thank god i wasn't born before the age of Fairuz . Now I don't want answer your academic survey I only have a few words to say:
I listen to many singers Arab and Occidental and I enjoy their voices and their music to high level , but when it comes to Fairuz , we're not talking about art , music or theater etc. It's something very far from that . Fairuz has become a part of me , of childhood of the sea and the land , the blue sky of my (and her) country . She is a part of my feelings whether sad or happy whether bored or in love , part of my memories and of my mood, her voice shared my mother's in her lullabies and my wife's singing while cleaning the house . Fairuz didn't come into her fans hearts but into their lives as well .
I better stop right here cause no matter how I write i shall be short from giving a right explanation to my feelings .
my regards to your old man (am sure you love her because of him) and I wish you an easy PHD.
PS. waiting for the intended book.
George Hanna