Legendary Lebanese singers from the Golden Age of the Arab music scene
Throughout the 1950s, Lebanon’s music scene was hit with the Golden Age of legendary Lebanese singers.
Although the population experienced an excessive amount of religious and social diversity due to ongoing conflicts, this set the scene for many upcoming Lebanese singers to speak out through their music.
These legends introduced a revolutionary modern twist to the Arab music world which helped connect the country at a time of hardship.
For the many who have passed away, their work lives on in their poetic lyrics and powerful voices.
Keep reading to find out who our most legendary Lebanese voices of all time are!
Wadih El Safi (1921 – 2013)
A Lebanese icon and the longest running singer in production in the Arab world for a total of 75 years, Wadih El Safi is considered the forefather of the Lebanese musical culture.
He studied at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music and become known nationally when he won a singing competition on the Lebanese radio held by the Lebanese Broadcasting Network.
Wadih El Safi mixed his rural upbringing and passion for traditional melodies with his urban sound to create a fresh style of Lebanese folk music. He toured worldwide, singing in not only Arabic but Syriac, French, Portuguese and Italian, and was well known for his mawawil (improvised style of singing).
Sabah (1927 – 2014)
Known as the ‘Diva’ of the Arab music world, Sabah is often referred to as “Al Sabbouha” or “Al Chahroura” (The Singing Bird) by her adoring fans.
She began singing and acting in the 1940s in Egyptian movies, before amounting to a total of 80 films and more than 3000 songs by the end of her career.
She was one of the first Arabic performers to sing at the Sydney Opera House, as well as Olympia in Paris, Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Melhem Barakat (1945 – 2016)
Establishing himself back in the 1960s, Barakat is favoured for introducing a new genre of music in Lebanon through his strong singing style.
Touring all over the world including Australia, Canada, the United States, South America and the Middle East, he was an Arab icon.
He mainly performed in colloquial Lebanese especially in a time where Arab singers favoured the Egyptian dialect and criticised his Lebanese peers for doing just that.
Fairuz (1935 – present)
Lebanese singer Fairuz is one of, if not the most, admired and influential singers of the Arab world and the only one on this list still alive today.
Fairuz met the Rahbani brothers while she was singing for the Lebanese radio station, who were rising composers and lyricists and eventually married Assi Rahbani.
Having lived through the Lebanese civil war during which Beirut split into two sides, Fairuz refused to take sides and never went to live abroad, instead stopped performing in Lebanon.
She used her music and platform to be politically active, with one song in particular catching the nations hearts called “Behebak Ya Libnan” otherwise known as ‘I love you, Lebanon’.