Nouhad Wadie' Haddad (نهاد وديع حداد; born November 20, 1934, known as Fairuz (فيروز; also spelled Fairouz, Feyrouz or Fayrouz), is a Lebanese singer. Fairuz is regarded as the musical icon of Lebanon and is popularly known as "the soul of Lebanon". She is considered by many as one of the leading vocalists and most famous singers in the history of the Arab world.
Fairuz began her musical career as a teenager at the national radio station in Lebanon in the late 1940s as a chorus member. Her first major hit, "Itab", was released in 1952 and made her an instant star in the Arab world. In 1957, Fairuz held her first live performance at the Baalbeck International Festival, where she was awarded the honour of "Cavalier", the highest medal for artistic achievement by Lebanese president Camille Chamoun.
Fairuz's fame spread throughout the Arab world in the 1950s and 1960s, leading her to perform outside of Lebanon in various Arab capitals, including Damascus, Amman, Cairo, Rabat and Tunis. She has received multiple recognitions and awards throughout her career, including a Lebanese memorial stamp issued in 1969, the Key to the Holy City awarded by the Jerusalem Cultural Committee, the Jordanian Medal of Honor presented by King Hussein of Jordan, the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) awarded by French President Francois Mitterrand in 1988, the Highest Artistic Distinction, awarded by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honor) awarded by French President Jacques Chirac and Honorary Doctorate from the American University of Beirut in 2005.
Throughout the years, she headlined at the most important venues in the world such as Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and United Nations General Assembly Lobby in New York, the Olympia and Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens and the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam.
In a career spanning over six decades, Fairuz has recorded nearly 1500 songs, released more than 80 albums, 20 musicals and sold over 150 million records worldwide, making her the highest-selling Middle-Eastern artist of all time and one of the best-selling music artists in the world.
Musical plays or operettas were the cornerstone works of the Rahbani Trio, Fairuz, Assi and Mansour. The Rahbani Brothers produced 25 famous musical plays (20 with Fairuz) over more than 30 years. They were possibly the first to produce world-class Arabic musical theatre.
The musicals combined storyline, lyrics and dialogue, musical composition varying widely from Lebanese folkloric and rhythmic modes to classical, westernized, and oriental songs, orchestration, and the voice and acting of Fairuz. She played the lead roles alongside singers/actors Nasri Shamseddine, Wadih El Safi, Antoine Kerbaje, Elie Shouayri (Chouayri), Hoda (Fairuz's younger sister), William Haswani, Raja Badr, Siham Chammas (Shammas), Georgette Sayegh and many others.
The Rahbani plays expressed patriotism, unrequited love and nostalgia for village life, comedy, drama, philosophy, and contemporary politics. The songs performed by Fairuz as part of the plays have become immensely popular among the Lebanese and Arabs worldwide.
The Fairuz-Rahbani collaboration produced the following musicals (in chronological order):
- Ayyam al Hassad (Days of Harvest – 1957)
- Al 'Urs fi l’Qarya (The Wedding in the Village – 1959)
- Al Ba'albakiya (The Girl from Baalbek) – 1961)
- Jisr el Amar] (Bridge of the Moon – 1962)
- Awdet el 'Askar (The Return of the Soldiers – 1962)
- Al Layl wal Qandil (The Night and the Lantern – 1963)
- Biyya'el Khawatem (Ring Salesman – 1964)
- Ayyam Fakhreddine (The Days of Fakhreddine – 1966)
- Hala wal Malik (Hala and the King – 1967)
- Ach Chakhs (The Person – 1968–1969)
- Jibal Al Sawwan (Sawwan Mountains – 1969)
- Ya'ich Ya'ich (Long Live, Long Live – 1970)
- Sah Ennawm (Did you sleep well? – 1970–1971 – 2006–2008)
- Nass min Wara' (People Made out of Paper – 1971–1972)
- Natourit al Mafatih (The Guardian of the Keys – 1972)
- Al Mahatta (The Station – 1973)
- Loulou – 1974
- Mais el Reem (The Deer's Meadow – 1975)
- Petra – 1977–1978
Most of the musical plays were recorded and video-taped. Eighteen have been officially released on audio CD, two on DVD (Mais el Reem and Loulou). An unauthorized version of Petra and one such live version of Mais el Reem in black and white exist. Ayyam al Hassad (Days of Harvest) was never recorded and Al 'Urs fi l’Qarya (The Marriage in the Village) has not yet been released (yet an unofficial audio record is available).