Posted by on July 15, 2010 in Blog

Every week since January, National Public Radio (NPR) has been bringing listeners a year-long series entitled “50 Great Voices”, an in-depth look at 50 “awe-inspiring voices from around the world and across time.”  Singers in this series are as diverse as jazz legends (Ella Fitzgerald), a Qawwali icon (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) and Hip Hop greats (Lauryn Hill). This week’s voice is none other than Fairuz, the Lebanese Diva whose songs have been part of Lebanon’s cultural fabric for decades.  The reporter, Jamie Tarabay, would have certainly been familiar with Fairuz’s songs before embarking on this story; Tarabay is an Australian-born Lebanese who grew up in Sydeny and Beirut.  She was previously a correspondent in Iraq and is now working on a story about America’s Muslim community for NPR.

Not surprisingly, there has been a great deal of excitement and gratitude towards NPR from Arab listeners – especially Lebanese and Syrians – for this story.  Perhaps because of the special relationship they have with this iconic chanteuse. Fairuz is not the first Arab singer to be a part of the series; Umm Kulthum, arguably the Arab world’s most famous voice, takes that honor.  But as Tarabay proclaims in her report, “Even if you were born and raised on the other side of the world this voice probably sang to you from LPs and tape decks in kitchens and living rooms.”  Fairuz’s songs, like few other cultural commodities, came with the Lebanese as a link to the country they left (and loved), and stayed with generations following them.  Thus, in a way, Fairuz has become apart of Arab American culture as much as it has been a part of Arab culture for over half a century.

What are your experiences with Fairuz’s songs? Did you grow up listening to her music? What other musicians from the Arab world did you grow up with?


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