Sabah (singer)

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Sabah - Al Mawed.jpg
Background information
Birth name Jeanette Georges Feghali
Born (1927-11-10)10 November 1927
Bdadoun, Greater Lebanon
Died 26 November 2014(2014-11-26) (aged 87)
Beirut, Lebanon
Genres Lebanese music, Arabic music, Traditional
Occupation(s) Singer, actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1943–2009

Sabah (Arabic: صباح‎‎; born Jeanette Georges Feghali, 10 November 1927, Bdadoun, Lebanon – 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 released over 50 albums and acted in 98 movies as well as over 20 stage Lebanese plays. She had a reported more than 3,500 songs in her repertoire. She was among the first Arabic singers to perform at the Olympia in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House.[1] She was considered one of the four Lebanese icons along with Fairuz, Wadih El Safi and Samira Tawfiq and was nicknamed "Empress of the Lebanese Song" (Arabic: إمبراطورة الأغنية اللبنانية‎‎). She is considered one of the greatest Arab singers.


Sabah emerged at a time when the field of Arab singers was already crowded with formidable competitors. These included Najat Al Saghira[2] (born 1938), Warda Al-Jazairia (1939-2012), Shadia (born 1931), Fayza Ahmed (1934-1983) and Fairuz (born 1934) and others.

Sabah released her first song in 1940 at age 15. She soon caught the eye of Egyptian film producer Asia Dagher, who immediately signed her for three films. The first of these, El-Qalb Louh Wahid (The Heart Has Its Reasons), made her a star and she became known by her character's name—Sabah—which is Arabic for morning. She also acquired several affectionate nicknames, including "Shahroura" ("singing bird") and "Sabbouha," a diminutive of Sabah. Among her most popular films were Soft Hands (1964), Ataba Square (1959), and The Second Man (1960), in which she played a cabaret singer who vows to avenge her brother's death at the hands of a smuggling ring. In her parallel music career, she recorded more than 3,000 songs, working with a string of legendary Egyptian composers, including the late Mohammed Abdel Wahab. She specialised 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"). Sabah released over 50 albums and acted in 98 films during her career. Sabah's youthfulness and the joy she brought in her performances made her a living symbol of the “belle époque” and of the “joie de vivre” in the Levant and the Arab world.[3]

In addition to her Lebanese citizenship, Sabah held Egyptian, Jordanian and US citizenship as well, and continued to perform and make television appearances into her 80s.

Personal life[edit]

Sabah carried four different passports. She carried a Lebanese, an Egyptian, a Jordanian and an American passport. Sabah married seven times, most notably to Egyptian actor Roshdi Abaza, as well as Lebanese author-director Wassim Tabbara, Lebanese businessman Najib Chammas, Lebanese politician Youssef "Joe" Hammoud and Egyptian musician Anwar Mansy. Her last marriage was to the much-younger Lebanese artist Fadi Lubnan. She had two children, doctor Sabah Chammas and actress Howayda Mansy.

In her advanced age, she refused to leave the limelight, as well as her garish outfits. But she was unabashed: "I'm proud that I'm a village girl but I had a lot of ambition," she said in 2008. Chady Maalouf, head of programming at Voice of Lebanon Radio said, "She broke so many taboos. I don't know if she was even aware of it... She was the example of a star, she was totally complete in her appearance, behavior and voice. She shocked people all the time." It should be also added that she was known for her truly remarkable joie de vivre as she irradiated to her public a sense of happiness and goodness in embodiment of a belle époque in the modern Arab world! [4]

She lived many love stories but she never found love. She said in one of her interviews that her ex-husbands usually called her "Mrs. Bank". They married her just because of her large fortune, and that's why none of her love relationships worked out successfully, to say nothing of how many times they cheated on her, e.g., Wassim Tabbara. Anwar Mansi allegedly was a poker addict and was beating her as well. As for Najib Chammas, he wanted her to get away from the spotlights and become a housewife.[5]

Last years[edit]

Sabah experienced financial difficulties and after selling her home in the early 2000s, moved to Hotel Comfort in Hazmiyeh, Beirut, and later lived in Hotel Brazilia next door. She suffered from many illnesses due to several thrombuses in her brain, leading to loss of control of her left hand and foot. Though her condition impaired her concentration, her memory remained intact.

Until 2009, she performed both in concert and on television, including such programs as Star Academy (the Arabic equivalent of the United Kingdom’s Fame Academy), where she sang her new single on stage opposite a line of mannequins displaying costumes from several of her early films and musicals. 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). 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 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, Ruwaida Attieh shared the stage with more than 40 singers and dancers to honor her works.


Constant rumors involving Sabah’s death had circulated days before she died. Saddened by those rumors, Sabah said, ”Am I bothering them while I'm still alive?”

Sabah died on November 26, 2014, around 3:00 a.m., at the age of 87 in her home at Hotel Brazilia from unspecified reasons. Clauda Akl, the daughter of her famous sister, actress Lamia Feghaly, published the sad news on her web page at around 6:45 a.m., saying that Sabah wished before dying that people would dance the "dabkeh" at her funeral, should not feel sad because she went to a better place and should keep listening to her songs and always be happy no matter what, in the same way that Sabah always gave happiness to people. Sabah said: “I've lived enough”.

On Sunday 30 November 2014, four days after Sabah's death, hundreds of friends, family and fans packed into St. George Cathedral in downtown Beirut to say farewell to the famed Lebanese singer, actress and entertainer. The daylong proceedings took on a festive air as the crowds celebrated Sabah's taboo-breaking six-decade-long career. A military brass band played in the street outside the cathedral, where fans clapped and sang their favorite Sabah songs. A troupe of dancers in traditional dress performed to the diva's music playing from loudspeakers. "I will call it a celebration and not a funeral," said Lebanese actress Ward El-Khal. "We feel today that we came here to share her feelings and to remember her. We will miss her." For the funeral mass, Sabah's flag-draped coffin stood near the altar with a giant picture of the singer as a young woman with peroxide-blond hair. After the service, mourners carried the casket aloft 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.[6]

Televised biography[edit]

Al Shahrourah,[7] 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 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. [8]


Sabah received many awards during her lengthy career. Recent examples include:

  • She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dubai International Film Festival.[9]
  • She was honored by the Egyptian cinema in Cairo.[10]
  • She was honored in Beirut with a statue.[10]
  • She was honored by the Lebanese Republic many times, e.g. by receiving the National Order of the Cedar medal.
  • A museum is being built in her village Bdadoun, which will contain her private letters, dresses and accessories, rare old photographs of her and other memorabilia.
  • Her music is being taught in music classes in Lebanon.
  • She was honored by the Lebanese cinema and stage as well as Lebanese composers.
  • Months before she died, the Lebanese journalist Rima Njeim hosted an honoring episode aired live on MTV Lebanon.

Selected filmography[edit]

  • 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 aka my wife's husband (1961)
  • El Rajul el thani (1960)
  • El Ataba el khadra (1959)
  • Sharia el hub (1958)
  • 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 aka good morning (1948)
  • Albi wa saifi(1947)
  • lubnani fi al gamiaa (1947)


Selected discography[edit]

Album Title Song Title Release Year
Alhan Bladi 1957
Shab Wistahla
Laish Bitizaal, Laish Bitghar
Qululi Limin
Ya Huwaidalak
Abu Al-Zuluf
Lubnan Al-dini Killa
Ghani ma Sabah 1957
Tayyib Tayyib
Khabbi Ounak Khabbiha
Miqaddar Min Allah
Shayif Ghazali
Ya Layla
Mawsam Al Ez (Musical theatre) "Sabah, wadih al safi, nasri shamseldi" 1960
Ain Al rumman (Musical theatre) "Sabah, Wadih Al Safi, Felemon wehbi, Soad Hashim" 1960
Fatinat Ajjamahir 1964
Sana Helwa
Jeeb el Mejwez
Ahla bi Hattali
El Batta
Jina Eddar
Ya Kerkadann
Sabah in ASh-Shallal ( Film ) 1964
Shams Al Shammous 1966
Allo Beyrout
Ya Beit Eddine
El Kalaa
Men El Sham Li Beirut
Sheftou Bel Anater
Al Warka khartasht shway
Dabkeh men hal wadeh
Atshana ya sabaya
Dawalib Al Hawa 1966
Ya Fahd Al abour
Ghani ya Monjaira ( Composed by Felemon Wehbi )
Haida al qasab ya asmar
Ahla w sahla ya samar
Ya rait La
Ismi Hala
Asfourak Tayr
Ghani Hala
Ajebkom Ya Ghahd Al abour
Sahia ya Jama'a
Atba ala atba ( Composed by Felemon wehbi )
wa han ya jama'a
Tir ya doulab el hawa
Ya bizrati aib alaiki
Yam al zinnar
Shou ya Fahd
Ya houmoum al ahali
Sabah Vol. 1 1967
Jary Ya jary
Al Kalaa
Ataba w Maana
Ydoum Izzak
Bayyaa al tiffah
Lizz El Koursi
Ya Msafir
Al Yadi El Yadi
Sabah Vol.2 1967
Al Basata
Helweh w mamshouka
Abou El Zolof
A weeha
Ya Aziz Aini
Ya Bou El darawish
Al zamakeh
Ahla w sahla w marhaba 1972
Yeslam lana loubnan
Ahla Bhal talli ahla
Habibi Mitlena
Mijana w ataba
Layla w layla
Addabke Oumu Addabki
A loubnan Lakouna
Loubnan el dini kella
Al manadil 1973
Al raff
Hobbi ilak
Hob Omr Jedid
Hakani Chab
Trkni men azabak
Kellon bihebouni
Al Mandil
Tir Ajnah el Hawa (Mawal)
Josi ma Bielfi
Dekt El Murr (Mawal)
Sabah in "Sit el kol" (Musical theatre) 1974
Abnou el kousour
Bar Tita
Massainakom massouna
Jani wa talb al sabah
Dakhlak La Toualikani (t3ale2ni)
aini ya aini
Ya dalaa Dallaa
wakayamhou dab tiyabi
al hawbar al haybar
zakfi ya chabab
Sabah in "Helwe Ktir" (Musical theatre) 1975
El Mjawazz
Oumo norkos
Marhaba ya habayeb
Kahil El Eyn
Rouhi Ya sayfiyye
Stenn Brenn
Sabah in Paris 1976
Saide Leyletna Saide
Zaafe Zaafe ya chabab
Dek el kaf
Ya Dalaa dallaa
La ou La
Sabah in Shahr el Asal Vol.1 ( Comedy Theater ) 1977
Shou esmak
Hiwar ya shabab
Abou Nayef
Hiwar Bhebak ya Sa3ti
Wehyatak 3al Ghali
Sharfi wa Ordi
Mawsam Shiti
Sabah in Shahr el Asal Vol.2 ( Comedy Theater ) 1977
Men Aboukra
Marhab Marhab
Hala Hala
Ahna Beit El Marhoum
Weynou Weynou
Ya habayeb
El Mirathat
Lamma Lyamk
Chou Ya Dalaa
Helwey Lebnan
Sabah 1977
Helwet Lebnan
Ya lebnan Dakhl Trabak
Zay El Amar
Alouli El hob Biyenbaa
Ya Maarmargi
Rouh Tjawaz ya abdo
Ya Habibi ya hayati
Lama a Tarik El Eyn
La ou La
Sabah - 10 Annees de succes 1978
Ah Ya Dini
Ali ya Ali
Alo Beirut
Annadda Nadda
Al Asfouriyat
Wassaltina Lnoss Lbeir
Ghaltan bnemra