Even if you weren’t Lebanese, you might have heard the name Fayrouz repeatedly. If you have noticed your friends or family changing their profile pictures on Facebook to include a frame of Lebanon’s beautiful symbol, then you are witnessing a newly appointed celebration of “Fayrouz Month”. Since her birthday falls on November 20, the entire nation (or even the world) has come together to dedicate this entire month to a voice they can never forget.
When Fayrouz steps onto her stage in front of her admirers, it becomes an incredible iconic moment and an emotional roller-coaster to see Lebanon in the form of a person. Whether you are a millennial or grew up to her songs, you can’t help but watch in awe as she projects her talent. Originally named Nouhad Haddad, she was born on 1935 when her parents moved to the cobblestone alley called Zuqaq-Al-Blat. From the age of ten, Fayrouz was already known for her unusual singing voice and went on to join a conservatory to brighten her future in the field.
Most of her earlier songs were focused on expressing romantic love and the memories of her village life, which many could relate to. Her career began to boom when she became a chorus member of the Lebanese Radio Station and by the 1960s, Fayrouz came to be the “First Lady of Lebanese Singers”.
In 1971, her fame grew to a worldwide scale during her North American tour where Fayrouz captured the hearts of Arabs and Americans alike. Positive reviews began to soar as the Lebanese singer received several comments that her voice was a rare gem, which seemed to shine effortlessly. In the 70s, during Lebanon’s civil war, Fayrouz refused to take sides. She made a decision to refrain from performing in Lebanon and tour overseas. Her music was her form of activism, and the people of the nation supported that dearly. One song that her fans kept close to their hearts was the iconic title “Behebak Ya Libnan” – I Love you, Lebanon – which spoke of a unified country that is still loved to this day.
After many citizens left the country because of the war, she released a new song titled “Sanarjiou” – We Will Return – that plucked the heartstrings of her listeners. People outside the country adopted this song that related to them as well. For example, the Palestinians held the meaning of it closely as they reminisced about their home.
In 1997, Lebanon wanted to make a formal mark that the civil war had ended and the citizens prayed that their role model would return to the country for another performance. That’s exactly what she did in the Baalbek Festival in 1998. Fayrouz finally came back for another performance to place a symbolic flag of peace into the ground. From then on, she continues to reside in Beirut and strongly portrays the essence of what it is to be Lebanese.
Even though she is referred to as “Lebanon’s Diva”, Fayrouz’s appearance on stage brings about a purely cultural and traditional atmosphere no matter where she performs. After hitting the age of 80, her voice continues to gracefully echo the streets of Beirut and remains a part of its culture. With this in mind, November is now known as “Fayrouz Month” to keep her living on with the generations to come.