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'Singing bird' Sabah dies aged 87

Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, a veteran of Arab music, died at the age of 87 today after a career that spanned six decades.

The diva was famous across the Arab world for her powerful voice, musical talent and joyful brazenness and is considered among the last of the "giants" - a crop of celebrated Lebanese singers that represent a golden age, including Fayrouz, Wadih el-Safi, Nasri Shamseddine and others.

Sabah, whose real name was Jeanette Feghali, first came to prominence in the Fifties as a singer and actress in Egyptian movies.

Ultimately, she participated in at least 25 plays, four radio musicals, 85 films and sang 3,000 songs.

The peroxide-blonde with a throaty laugh and playful smile was nicknamed "shahroura", Arabic for "singing bird", and "the Sabbouha", a diminutive for "Sabah", by millions of fans across the Middle East.

In Lebanon, she was humorously mocked for refusing to leave the limelight, clinging to youth through surgeries, marriages to younger men and garish outfits.

But she was universally admired for her love of life and positive outlook, even in her old age.

Lebanese singer Ragheb Alameh said: "Our giants are leaving, our cedars are diminishing. Farewell our shahroura, our beloved, rest in peace."

Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt said: "She was a great singer of a Lebanon that my generation knew, that will never come back."


From Belfast Telegraph