‘The Frank Sinatra of the Mideast:’ Lebanese singer Wadih El Safi dies

October 13, 2013 21:37

Wadih El Safi, a Lebanese classical singer and actor, died on Friday, according to reports.

Wadih El Safi.

Wadih El Safi 370. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

Wadih El Safi, a Lebanese classical singer and actor, died on Friday, according to reports.

He was 91. El Safi’s health severely deteriorated about this time last year , following a surgery to a broken leg El Safi is known to have enriched the Arab music library with outstanding works of art. He is a singer, a composer and considered one of the musical giants in Lebanon and the Arab world.

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His first appearance was at the Lebanese song competition in 1938, in which he won the first place amongst 40 other contestants.

Having studied at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music, El Safi began composing and performing songs that drew upon his rural upbringing and love of traditional melodies, blended with an urban sound, and creating a new style of modernized Lebanese folk music El Safi toured the world, singing in many languages, including Arabic, Syriac, French, Portuguese and Italian.

He helped give the Lebanese song its identity by developing folk and country singing, stirring homesickness to country and countryside in expatriates.

El Safi has written over 3000 songs. He is well known for his mawawil (an improvised singing style) of ‘ataba, mijana, and Abu el Zuluf. He has performed and recorded with many well-known Lebanese musicians, including Najwa Karam, Fairouz, and Sabah.
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