Sabah (Arabic: صباح; born Jeanette Gergis Al-Feghali, 10 November 1927 – 26 November 2014) was a Lebanese singer and actress. Considered a "Diva of Music" in the Arab World, (the same title often given to Oum Kalthoum, Warda Al-Jazairia and Fairuz), she has released over 50 albums and has acted in 98 movies as well as over 20 stage plays.
She has a reported 3,500 songs in her repertoire. She was the first Arabic singer to perform at Olympia in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Piccadilly Theatre in London and Sydney Opera House in Sydney . Member of The 3 Lebanon Icons with Fairuz and Wadih El Safi .
Early life and career
Sabah, known locally as "Al-Sabbouha" was born in Bdadoun, Lebanon. Her father was severe towards her, even beating her sometimes. When she started making a small amount of money out of her movies, he used to take it away from her. She married early to leave her father's overbearing financial control. Her brother killed her mother because he believed she was seeing someone outside marriage.
She began singing and acting in the 1940s in Egyptian movies when Egyptian filmmaker Henry Barakat recognised her talent. Her first featured film was "El Alb Laho Wahed" produced by Asia Dagher. Although a Lebanese national, the majority of her films were co-produced with or focused on Egypt. She starred with many famous actors, such as Abdel Halim Hafez, Kamal El Chenawi, Ahmad Mazhar, Rushdy Abaza and Hussein Fahmy.
Until 2009, she performed both in concert and on television, including such programs as Star Academy (the Arabic equivalent of the United Kingdom'sFame Academy), where she sang her new single onstage opposite a line of mannequins displaying costumes from several of her early films and musicals.
She is known to her affectionate fans as "Sabbouha". She is also famously known as "Al Chahroura" (The Singing Bird), because of her poet uncle who was named "Chahrour Al Wadi".
In the 1990s, she and her former husband Fadi Lubnan (Kuntar) made a documentary about her life.
She also developed a close collaboration with singer Rola Saad in remaking some of her old hits, such as "Yana Yana". The accompanying video, in which Sabah is shown as "the notorious diva" to whom her younger colleague pays tribute, has received wide play on Arabic music channels.
Sabah was hosted on Akher Man Yalam on 31 May 2010.
In the 2011 edition of the famous Beiteddine Art Festival, a show retracing the incredible journey of Sabah as a singer and movie star was performed. In the title role Ruwaida Attieh, shared the stage with more than 40 singers & dancers.
After selling her building in the early 2000s, she moved to "Hotel Comfort" in Hazmieh, Beirut. She is now living in "Hotel Brazilia" next to her old hotel. She suffers from many illnesses due to several Thrombus in her brain. This caused her to lose control of her left hand and foot. However she has not lost her memories, but suffers from a diminished ability to concentrate.
Al Shahrourah, a TV drama based on her life aired during Ramadan 2011. She was portrayed by actress/singer Carole Samaha.
Sabah's reaction was mostly positive towards the series and was happy that it was a success. However, she had some comments about inaccuracies, such as the depiction of her father as wearing the traditional Lebanese costumes.
Sabah has been married seven times. Here's a history of her marriages:
- Najib Chammas (5 Years); the couple had a son named Dr. Sabah Chammas .
- Egyptian violinist Anwar Mansy. The marriage lasted four years; the couple had a daughter, actress and singerHowayda Mansy.
- Egyptian television presenter Ahmed Farrag.
- Egyptian actor Rushdy Abaza The marriage lasted only one week.
- Lebanese depute Joe Hammoud
- Lebanese artist Wassim Tabbara.
- Lebanese artist Fadi Lebnan.
Her last romantic adventure was with Omar Mehyo, Mister Lebanon 2000, whom she was engaged but not married to in 2003. The relationship ended in 2004. According to Lebanese Media Magazine Al Mawed and Contrary to popular belief, she is not married to her hairdresser Joseph Gharib,who takes care of her daily.
In addition to her numerous concerts in the Arab World she has also performed several times on foreign stages such as:
- L'Olympia, Paris.
- Albert Hall, London.
- Sydney Opera House, Sydney.
Her only European TV performance was in 1980, when she was a guest on the French TV show Le Grand Echiquierwhere she performed "Saidi" and the duet "Aal Naddaa" with French singer Enrico Macias. This duet lead to her ban in several Arab Countries,due to Macias' support of Israel.
Rumors of death
Constant rumors involving Sabah's death have been circulating in the past decade because of her advanced age. She has been described as "The artist who would not die". However, Sabah is saddened by those rumors, saying :"Am I Bothering them while i live ?". On the topic of death, she says: "I've lived enough".
She has received many awards during her lengthy career, recent awards include:
- Lifetime Achievement Award from The Dubai International Film Festival.
- She was honored by the Egyptian Cinema in Cairo.
- She was honored in Beirut with a statue of herself.
- Decoration Award By Lebanese President Michel Sleiman During The Beiteddine Art Festival.
Sabah has acted in more than 87 movies,most of these movies are Egyptian and Lebanese movies, as well as 37 play. Her acting career stretches from 1943 till 2005. Many of Sabah's movies have not been released commercially on eitherVHS tape or DVD. Some of the movies she played in include:
- Iyam El Loulou written by Karim Abou Chakra (As well as Nousi Nousi a play written and directed by Karim Abou Chakra)
- Kanat Ayyam (1970)
- Nar el shawk (1970)
- Mawal (1966)
- El Aydi el naema (1963) aka Soft Hands
- El Motamarreda (1963)
- Jaoz marti (1961)
- El Rajul el thani (1960)
- El Ataba el khadra (1959)
- Sharia el hub (1959)
- Salem al habaieb (1958)
- Izhay ansak (1956)
- Wahabtak hayati (1956)
- Khatafa mirati (1954)
- Lahn hubi (1953)
- Zalamuni el habaieb (1953)
- Khadaini abi (1951)
- Ana Satuta (1950)
- Sabah el khare (1948)
- Albi wa saifi(1947)
- lubnani fi al gamiaa (1947)
Sabah died on 26 November 2014 at 3AM at her residence at the age of 87. The Lebanese official news agency confirmed her death, saying she died in Beirut.
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