Sabah (singer)

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Sabah in the 1960s
Sabah in the 1960s
Background information
Birth nameJeanette Georges Feghali
جانيت جرجس فغالي
Also known asShahruret-el Wadi (Arabic: شحرورة الوادي,[1] meaning the "Songbird of the Valley", based upon her region of origin, Wadi Chahrour also called Ourrouar)
Born(1927-11-10)10 November 1927
Bdadoun, Greater Lebanon
Died26 November 2014(2014-11-26) (aged 87)
Beirut, Lebanon
GenresArabic music, Traditional
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1943–2014
Spouse(s)Rushdy Abaza

Najib Chammas

Anwar Mansy

Ahmed Farraj

Youssef (Joe) Hammoud

Wassim Tabbara

Fadi Lubnan

Sabah (Arabic: صباح Ṣabāḥ Lebanese pronunciation: [sˤɑˈbaːħ]; born Janet Gerges Feghali, جانيت جرجس فغالي; 10 November 1927 – 26 November 2014) was a Lebanese singer and actress. She participated in many Egyptian movies and songs.[2] She was among the first Arabic singers to perform at the Olympia, Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Piccadilly Theatre, and the Sydney Opera House.[3][4][5][6]

Early life[edit]

Sabah was born to a Maronite Christian family in Bdadoun in Aley.[7] She was the third of three daughters.[7] She came from a troubled family; her father neglected and bullied her[7] and tried to steal her early movie earnings. Her first marriage was to escape her father's control. Her brother also killed her mother because he believed she was having an affair.[7][8][9]


Sabah on the cover of Al Chabaka Magazine, April 1965

Sabah emerged when the field of Arab singers was already crowded with formidable competitors. These included Umm Kulthum (1898-1975), Nagat El Sagheera (born 1938), Warda Al-Jazairia (1939–2012), Shadia (1931–2017), Fairuz (born 1934), and others.[citation needed]

Sabah started singing at a young age and released her first song in Lebanon in 1940 at age 13.[3] She went to Egypt in the early 1940s, where she first participated in the movie El-Qalb Luh Wahid (The Heart Has Its Reasons), released in 1945, which gained her regional fame.[3][10] She then became officially known by her character's name — Sabah, Arabic for "morning".[3] She also acquired several affectionate nicknames, including "Chahroura" ("songbird"), "Ustura" (legend) and "Sabbouha," a diminutive of Sabah.[3][10][11]

Sabah with Salah Zulfikar in Paris and Love (1972)

Among her most popular films were The Night is Ours (1949), My Father Deceived Me (1951), That's What Love Is (1961), Soft Hands (1963), Three Women (1968), Paris and Love (1972), and The Second Man (1959), in which she played a cabaret singer who vows to avenge her brother's death at the hands of a smuggling ring.[3]

She sang at wedding in Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war.[7]

In the 1990s, she and her former husband, Fadi Lubnan (Kuntar), made a documentary about her life, which aired on Future Television under the title "The Journey of My Life" (مشوار حياتي).

In her parallel music career, she recorded more than 3,000 songs, working with a string of well-known Egyptian composers, including the late Mohammed Abdel Wahab.[10] She specialized in a Lebanese folk tradition called the mawal, and her most famous songs included "Zay el-Assal" ("Your Love is Like Honey on my Heart") and "Akhadou el-Reeh" ("They Took the Wind").[3][11] Sabah released over 50 albums and acted in 98 films during her career.[3] Sabah's youthfulness and the joy she brought in her performances made her a living symbol of the "belle époque" and the "joie de vivre" in the Levant and the Arab world.[8]

Until 2009, she performed in concert and on television, including programs such as Star Academy. She also collaborated closely 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 the TV show Akher Man Yalam on 31 May 2010. In the 2011 edition of the Beiteddine Art Festival, a show retracing the journey of Sabah as a singer and movie star was performed. In the title role, Rouwaida Attieh shared the stage with more than 40 singers and dancers to honor her works.[citation needed]

In 2010, she retired due to an illness that left her with paralysis in one of her arms and legs.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Sabah carried four passports from different countries: Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and the United States.[3]

She married Lebanese businessman Najib Chammas when she was 18,[7] but would go on to marry nine more times, most notably to Egyptian actor Rushdy Abaza,[13] as well as Egyptian musician Anwar Mansy, Egyptian television presenter Ahmed Farraj, Lebanese politician Youssef (Joe) Hammoud, and Lebanese author-director Wassim Tabbara.[3] Hammoud allegedly divorced Sabah in the 1970s due to a scandal following a performance where she wore revealing shorts.[7][11] Her penultimate marriage, which lasted 17 years, was to the much-younger Lebanese artist Fadi Lubnan.[7] Her final marriage was to Joseph Gharib in 2013, at the age of 85.[7]

She had two children, Sabah Chammas (from her marriage to Najib Chammas) and Howayda Mansy (from her marriage to Anwar Mansy).[7] Sabah is a medical doctor, and Howayda,[14] is a singer, actress, and socialite. Both of her children live in the United States.[3]

After selling her house in Hazmieh, which she described as "too big and cold for only one person," she moved to the neighboring Hotel Comfort in Baabda, Mount Lebanon, a hill city overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea. She later lived in another hotel next to Baabda.[citation needed]

Sabah in Beirut in 2007

Sabah is the aunt of Brazilian congresswoman Jandira Feghali. Her brother, Ricardo Feghali, is a musician, songwriter, and member of the highly acclaimed Brazilian band Roupa Nova.[15] [16]


Rumors of Sabah's death circulated days before she died. Amused by the rumors, Sabah said, "Even in my death, I'm making people busy."[3][11]

Sabah died on 26 November 2014, around 3:00 a.m., sixteen days after her 87th birthday, in her home at Hotel Brazilia from unspecified reasons. Clauda Akl, the daughter of her sister, actress Lamia Feghaly, published the news on her webpage at around 6:45 a.m. She mentioned that Sabah wished people would not feel sad and dance the Dabkeh at her funeral, saying “I've lived enough.” After her death, her hairdresser Joseph Gharib said in an interview that Sabah loved to wear red lipstick during her last days. She considered Joseph Gharib her son, and he considered her his mother.[citation needed]

On Sunday, 30 November 2014, four days after Sabah's death, thousands of people filled the streets to pay their respects. Her family, Lebanese officials, and many Arab delegates packed into St. George Cathedral in downtown Beirut to bid farewell to the singer, actress, and entertainer.

In front of the cathedral, the official Lebanese Army band played the national anthem, followed by many songs from Sabah's repertoire, a first in the country's history. Fans clapped and sang their favorite Sabah songs. A troupe of dancers in traditional dress performed to her music playing from loudspeakers.

Sabah mural on the Assaf building in Hamra Street, Beirut

For the funeral mass, Sabah's flag-draped coffin stood near the altar with a giant picture of the singer as a younger woman with her signature voluminous peroxide-blond hair. After the service, mourners carried the casket to a hearse waiting outside while people clapped, threw flowers, and reached out to touch it and take photographs. Sabah's body was carried through many towns to the church of her hometown of Bdadoun, where she was buried.[17]


Al Shahrourah,[18] a TV drama based on her life, aired during Ramadan in 2011. She was portrayed by actress/singer Carole Samaha. Sabah's reaction was positive toward the series. She was happy that it was a success, though she commented about certain inaccuracies, such as the depiction of her father as wearing traditional Lebanese garb. [19]

Months before she died, the Lebanese journalist Rima Njeim hosted a TV episode honoring her, which aired live on MTV Lebanon.[citation needed]

A museum is being built in her village Bdadoun, which will contain her private letters, dresses, wardrobe accessories, rare old photographs of her and other memorabilia.[citation needed]

Her music is being taught in music classes in Lebanon.[citation needed]

In 2015, graffiti artists Halwani and the brothers Omar and Mohammad Kabbani commemorated Sabah in monumental murals on the sides of buildings in Beirut, paying tribute to the way she defied gender-based and other social taboos, challenging Lebanon's culture of sectarianism and providing an alternative to images of political leaders and their sloganeering.[20]

On 10 November 2017, Google celebrated what would have been her 90th birthday with a Google Doodle.[21]

Marvel's Moon Knight TV series plays her song Saat Saat from the 1980 Egyptian movie A Night When The Moon Cried, at the end of Episode 5.


In 2004 was honored at the Alexandria Song Festival and the Cairo Film Festival.[22] That same year, she was honored in Beirut with a statue.[22]

In 2010 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dubai International Film Festival.[23]

She was honored by the Lebanese Republic many times, e.g. by receiving the National Order of the Cedar medal.[citation needed]


Sabah released over 50 albums and acted in 98 movies, and over 20 stage plays. She had a reported repertoire of over 3,500 songs.

Selected filmography[edit]

  • 1986 Ayyam El Lulu ايام اللولو aka = Days Of The Lulu
  • 1972 Paris wal Hob باريس والحب aka= Paris and Love
  • 1970 Kanet Ayyam كانت ايام aka =It Were Days
  • 1970 Nar El Shoq نار الشوق aka = Fire Of Longing
  • 1969 Easabet El Nesa عصابة النساء aka = Gang Of Women
  • 1968 Thalath Nesaa ثلاث نساء aka = Three Women
  • 1966 Mawwal El Aqdam El Zahabiyyah موال الاقدام الذهبية aka =Popular Song Of Golden Feet
  • 1963 El Aydi el naema الايدى الناعمة aka = The Soft Hands
  • 1963 El Motamaradah المطاردة aka = The Chase
  • 1961 El Hob Keda الحب كده aka = That's What Love Is
  • 1961 Goz merti جوز مراتى aka = Husband Of My Wife
  • 1960 El Ragol El Thani الرجل الثانى aka = The Second Man
  • 1959 El Ataba El Khadra العتبه الخضرا aka=The Green Threshold
  • 1958 Shari' El Hobb شارع الحب aka = Love Sreet
  • 1958 Sallem Al Habayib سلم ع الحبايب aka = Say Hello To Lovers
  • 1956 Izayy Ansak ازاى انساك aka= How To Forget You
  • 1956 Wahabtak Hayati وهبتك حياتى aka = I Gave You My Life
  • 1954 Khataf merati خطف مراتى aka = He Kidnapped My Wife
  • 1953 Lahn Hobbi لحن حبى aka = Melody Of My Heart
  • 1953 Zalamuni El Habayib ظلمونى الحبايب aka = Were Unjust To Me, The Lovers
  • 1951 Khada'ni Abi خدعنى ابى aka = My Father Deceived Me
  • 1950 Ana Satuta انا ستوته aka = I'm Sattutah
  • 1949 Al lailu lana الليل لنا aka = The Night is Ours
  • 1948 Sabah El kher صباح الخير aka = Good Morning
  • 1947 Albi W Sefi قلبى و سيفى aka = My Heart And My Sword
  • 1947 lebnani Fi El gam'ah لبنانى فى الجامعة aka = Lebanese In University

Selected discography[edit]

Release Year Original Title Translation Label Main songwriter(s)/producer(s) Notable Songs
1957 Alhan Bilady Favourite Oriental Melodies Voix de l'Orient Folk Ya Huwaidalak
Abu Al-zuluf
Ghanni Maa Sabah Sing with Sabah Tayyib Tayyib
1959 Ajmal Aghani Sabah Sabah Sings Love Songs Philémon Wehbé Al-iza'a
Al 'Asfuriyya
1960 Mawsam El 'Ezz
(with Fairuz & Wadih El Safi)
Baalbeck International Festival
Assi & Mansour Rahbani
Wadih El Safi
Philémon Wehbé
Ain Al Roumane - Musical
(with Fairuz & Wadih El Safi)
The Village Assi & Mansour Rahbani Finjan Qahwa
Al Tayir
1963 Share' Al Hob - Sountrack From Ezzel Dine Zulficar's Motion Picture
(with Abdel Halim Hafez)
Street of Love Orient Hussein Al Sayed
Munir Mourad
Rahat Leialee Wa Jat Leialee
1964 Ash-Shallal - Musical The Cascade Voix de l'Orient Walid Gholmieh
Younes El Ebn
Ya Mrouj
Fatinat Ajjamahir Girl for the Masses Assi & Mansour Rahbani
Mohamed Abdel Wahab
Zaki Nassif
Philémon Wehbé
Sana Helwa
1966 Dawaleeb Al Hawa - Musical The Pinwheels Assi & Mansour Rahbani
Philémon Wehbé
Esmy Hala
Shams El Shoumous - Musical Sun of Suns Allo Beirut
1967 Sabah Philips Philémon Wehbé
Elias Rahbani
Michel Tohme
Al Bassata
1968 Al Al'aa Baalbeck Festival Romeo Lahoud Ya Ahl Al Al'aa
1969 Sabah Mohamed Abdel Wahab
Philémon Wehbé
Michel Tohme
Halim El Roumi
Jary Ya Jary
Ya Msafer
1970 Al Wahm - Musical Illusion Najib Hankash
Maurice Awad
Nehnal Hawa
1972 Ahlan Wa Sahlan Wa Marhaba Hello and Welcome Voix de l'Orient Walid Gholmieh
Younes El Ebn
Al Bassata
1974 Sett El Kol - Musical The First Lady Voice of Lebanon Philémon Wehbé
Michel Tohme
Ya Dalaa Dallaa
Helwe Ktir - Musical So Beautiful Nicolas El Deek
Michel Tohme
Marhaba Ya Habayeb
Oghniyat min Lubnan Songs of Lebanon Cairophon Rabie Loubnana
1976 Sabah in Paris (live) Voice of Lebanon Toufic Barakat
Nour Al Mallah
Dek El Kaf
1977 Shahr El 'Asal - Musical Honeymoon Melhem Barakat
Elie Choueiri
Men Aboukra
Hala Hala
Sabah Melhem Barakat
Farid El Atrache
Romeo Lahoud
Helwet Lebnan
Zay El Amar
Allah Makom Ya Chabab God Be with You Guys Duniaphon Allah Makom Ya Chabab
Zein El Abidin
Wetdallou Bikheir - Musical
(with Wadih El Safi)
May You Be in Good Health Zaki Nassif Ward El Janaen
1979 Live Performances (live) Voix de l'Orient Michel Tohme
Philémon Wehbé
Marhabtein W Marhabtein
1980 Ghnany 'Al Bal
(with Wadih El Safi)
Souvenirs Wadih El Safi
Philémon Wehbé
Altaf Diney
Aatouni Derbake
Leyla Beky Feeha Al Amar - Soundtrack From Ahmed Yehya's Motion Picture The Night the Moon Cried Sout El Hob Mohamed Abdel Wahab
Omar Batiesha
Yalla Naish El Hayat
1982 Wadi Shamsine Sings Elias Rahbani Rahbania Elias Rahbani Waadouni W Natarouni
Rakesni Hayk
1985 Sabah in Hollywood (live) Sphinx Ma'moun El Shinnawi
Samy Farag
Ahlan Wa Sahlan
Ayam El Loulou Days of Loulou Relax-In Elie Choueiri Ayam El Loulou
1988 Yalla Naish El Hayat Let's Live This Life Jamal Salama Yalla Naish El Hayat
1993 Khatwa Khatwa Step by Step Khatwa Khatwa
Shoufo Shoufo
1996 La Tiaanidni Don't Hate Me Disco 99 La Tiaanidni


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  2. ^ محطات غنائية في أفلام الشحرورة
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  4. ^ Aïssa Djermouni, Algerian singer of Berber origin, performed at the Olympia in Paris in 1937; the Egyptian Umm Kulthum did it when she was 22 years of age
  5. ^ "Presence des musiques arabes en France : Immigrations, diasporas et musiques du monde" (PDF). Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Biographie De Aissa Djermouni". 9 October 2008. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008.
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  9. ^ Desk, Web (26 November 2014). "Lebanese officials, artists bid adieu singing legend Sabah". Arab Press Updates. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  10. ^ a b c "ET commemorates Iconic Lebanese singer Sabah on her birth anniversary". EgyptToday. 10 November 2021. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  11. ^ a b c d "Sabah, actress and entertainer who thrilled and scandalized the Arab world, dies at 87". The Washington Post. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  12. ^ Khalaf, Hala; Ghazal, Rym (27 November 2014). "Sabah, iconic Lebanese singer dies aged 87". The National. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  13. ^ "Sabah – obituary". The Telegraph. 1 December 2014. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Legendary Sabah – Prestige Magazine". 27 June 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  15. ^ "'Imperatriz', santo e padre: livro resgata origem sírio-libanesa de políticos". O Globo (in Brazilian Portuguese). 13 September 2021. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Devastado, porto de Beirute tem significado histórico para o Brasil". (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  17. ^ "Thousands bid farewell to Lebanese diva Sabah". The Daily Star. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  18. ^ "myTV – Al Shahroura". Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  19. ^ "El Shahroura". IMDb. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  20. ^ Sinno, Nadine (9 March 2017). "A War of Colors: Beirut Street Art and the Reclamation of Public Space". ASAP/Journal. 2 (1): 71–104. doi:10.1353/asa.2017.0017. ISSN 2381-4721. S2CID 193868123.
  21. ^ "Sabah's 90th Birthday". 10 November 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Al Mawed- Akhbar Musawara". 19 August 2004. Archived from the original on 19 August 2004. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  23. ^ "Dubai International Film Festival". Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Retrospective of Sabah's work at Dubai film fest". Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  25. ^ "Sabah Discography at Discogs". discogs. Retrieved 6 July 2017.