Sabah Google Doodle - Google
CAIRO – 10 November 2017: Google is honoring the iconic Lebanese singer Sabah with a Google Doodle on Friday to celebrate the legendary singer’s 90th birthday in 24 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
The veteran Lebanese singer led a rich life with a career that spanned 60 years. A long successful journey launched Sabah as an icon of music in her life and death. She was on the top of the entertainment world during the Egyptian cinema’s golden era in the 1940s and 50s.
Sabah, whose real name was Jeanette Gergis al-Feghali, was born in the village of Bdedoun, a Lebanese town in the Baabda-Aley province to a Christian family in November 10, 1927. She released her first song in 1940, aged just 13.
Sabah travelled from her Lebanese town in Mount Lebanon, to Cairo in the 1940s in search of a better opportunity in the capital of art. The young rising singer at that time caught the eye of the famous Egyptian film producer Asia Dagher. Dagher after her strong belief in Sabah’s talent immediately signed her for three films.
After nicknaming herself Sabah following the morning she released her first movie “El-Qalb Louh Wahid” (The Heart Loves Only One), she shot into stardom after the film was a booming success in the entire Arab region.
Sabah appeared at a time when the music scene was already loaded with prominent singers, nevertheless, she managed to engrave her name as one of those prominent figures, a real sweetheart to most of the Arab audience.
She performed throughout her career in about 98 films as well as over 20 Lebanese stage plays. Among her most popular films were “El Aydy el Naema” (Soft Hands), “Sharee’ el Hob” (The Love Street), “El Ragol el Thany” (The Second Man), “Leila Baka Feha el Qamar” (The Night the Moon Cried) among others.
Sabah released over 50 music albums and has a large music repertoire that contains over 3,500 songs that were composed by a group of veteran Arabian composers, including the late great Mohamed Abdel Wahab. Some of her most famous songs included "Zay el-Assal" (Your Love is as Sweet as Honey), “Laa’a” (No), “Touby” (They Asked Me to Repent), and “Saat Saat” (Sometimes Sometimes).
She was known for performing the folklorist 'Mawwal' which is a certain type of Arabian way of singing that mainly depends on how melodious the singer’s voice is. Sabah presented ‘Mawwal’ on stage in places like Piccadilly Theatre, the Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall.
Sabah was dubbed by her fans with several affectionate nicknames, including "Shahroura" (Singing Bird) and "Sabbouha". She was famous for her elegance and her deep fondness for fashion trends. During the war years in Lebanon, she undertook humanitarian work, helping millions of people.
In addition to her Lebanese citizenship, Sabah held the Egyptian, Jordanian and U.S. citizenships as well. She was among the first Arabic singers to perform at the Olympia in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, The Royal Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House. She was considered one of the four Lebanese icons along with Fairuz, Wadih el Safi and Samira Tawfiq.
She was dubbed the "Elizabeth Taylor of Arabia" because of her numerous marriages. She frequently married and divorced, at least nine times. Her shortest relationship was a month and her longest was 17 years, which was her marriage to a dancer known as Fadi Lebanon.
Sabah died in 2014 aged 87. In the early years of social media, her health and death was often a topic of false reporting. “I have lived enough,” she often commented. She died at her home in Beirut of an unspecified illness, her health had been declining for years.
Sabah kept her love of life and positive outlook even unto old age. "I'm proud that I'm a village girl with a lot of ambition," Sabah once said in 2008.
"She broke so many taboos. I don't know if she was even aware of it," said Chady Maalouf, head of programming at Voice of Lebanon radio. "She was the example of a star, she was totally complete: in her appearance, behavior and voice. She shocked people all the time," Maalouf added
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut issued a statement on its Facebook page after her death calling Sabah "a bright, shining image of the Lebanese people." On Twitter, Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt wrote: "She was a great singer of a Lebanon that my generation knows will never come back."
"Our giants are leaving, our cedars are diminishing," Lebanese singer Ragheb Alameh also wrote on Twitter.
Sabah's youthfulness and the joy she brought in her performances made her a living symbol of entertainment in the Arab world. She is the cheerful honey-haired iconic artist who will remain forever alive in the hearts of her audience around the world.