The exhibition Divas showcases the lives and careers of the greatest female artists of the Arab music and film world of the last century. Women whose work had a worldwide artistic and social impact. Four well-known divas from the exhibition are Umm Kulthum, Asmahan, Fairuz and Warda. On these pages you can read more about their lives and careers, and listen to their music.
Nuhad Haddad was born in Beirut in 1935 into a humble Christian family. In 1947, Halim el-Rumi, the director of Radio Liban, became fascinated by this young lady. He gives her the stage name Fairuz, which means turquoise. Her future husband Assi Rahban and his brother Mansur discovered the voice that would bring about a musical revolution. From then on, everything he composed would be about Lebanon. They created a new style, in which Lebanese folklore music would be combined with classical rhythms.
After the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War of 1967, her singing became more dramatic. At the time, she appealed to the world by performing the song Jerusalem (Al-Quds). Fairuz became an icon. The modest artist with an iron will became the embodiment of love and tolerance throughout the Arab world.
In 1975, Lebanon became embroiled in a civil war that would continue until 1990. Fairuz refused to go into exile or to take sides, but she did decide to remain silent. On 17 September 1994, Fairuz again appeared on stage in the ravaged city of Beirut and was finally reunited with the Lebanese public whose admiration for her had not waned.
Fairuz is the only diva from the exposition to ever perform in the Netherlands; in 2011 at the Holland Festival.