Legendary Sabah

 
Prestige issue 7, December 1993

She has this unique way of appearing. Sumptuous, she literally shines like her nickname that she took since the beginning of her artistic journey, fifty years earlier. She incarnates the bright and secure face of happiness, of love that she never ceases to sing and live. In a word, Sabah is a legend, beautiful, inimitable. Sabah belongs to such stars, these superstars, so rare these days. For this exclusive status, she sacrificed everything and spent a lifetime.

1

© Bassam Lahoud

The legendary Sabah. Pioneer of our national song, she required to interpret in each of her films a Lebanese song.

It is on the school benches that talents are awakened. At the Jesuit school in Beirut, a vocal gift is born; during a particular feast of holiday season, a play is performed by students, it is called “The Princess Hind”. Hind is actually called, Jeannette Féghali. She plays, sings, draws all eyes to her. She still wears the apron of the school. Sabah tells her life very simply, as if she is flipping a tale from the Arabian Nights. A STAR IS BORN. “My first official holiday? That was in 1943. I was fourteen. The festival was organized by the Press Syndicate at the time of Robert Abela, at the Grand Theatre in Maarad neighborhood, that night, only two people with me: Georges Farhatat the Oud and SarkisBassimat the Nay. My first salary: 250 Lebanese pounds. Then, while continuing my studies, I sang at Saade Dora coffee with Wadih el Safi. I also remember the café Boutros where Assi and MansourRahbani played. My success at the Grand Theatre has earned me the attention of Mr. QaisarYounis, related to Asia Dagher, the famous Egyptian producer and agent in Lebanon. Younis asked my father to allow me to accompany him to Egypt to begin acting. My father finally agreed. He sold the house of my grandfather inWadiChahrour for 4000 LBP to allow me to buy the necessary for travel. We traveled by train from Palestine to Egypt where we waited for the director Henri Barakat and Asia Dagher. When she saw me, she congratulated Qaisar. Thus was concluded the contract of my first film. El Qalblahouwahad highly applauded, made me a star, of Barakat a famous filmmaker and of Asia a major producer. I sang there Bichouach Ala Aklik composed by Riad el Soumbati and Arouhma Rouhchi of Zakaria Ahmad; I sang there the Egyptian mawal for the first time. It seems that I made it through. ” JEANNETTE GEORGES FEGHALI BECOMES SABAH. “El Sabah, an art magazine published by Mustapha el Kachachi, published my photo in a survey made with its readers asking them to choose me a nickname. They were unanimous for Sabah inspired by the name of the magazine; a nickname that would accompany me throughout my career.

2 Sabah at the age of 16 years.

© Archives Sabah

I was also called the Chahroura in reference to my uncle, the poet Chahrour  el Wadi. Abdel Salam Naboulsi nicknamed me Chams el Choumous, Said Akl, Helouat el Hélouayat, for my ex-husband WassimTabbara, I was Sit el Koll. Finally, my husband Fadi Loubnan chose me a name Ghadat el Camelia. ” Precisely about husbands, she says that she estimates them all. “I dedicate the utmost respect for the deputy Joe Hammoud. My great love was Rushdi Abaza; Fady Loubnan represents  the serenity of love. Najib Chammas, my first husband and the father of my son Sabah insisted that this name is borne by the newborn whether a boy or a girl. ” She also had a husband, Anwar Mounsi, with whom she had a daughter, Houaida. She married Sheikh Ahmed Farraj. Her multiple marriages summarize her particular philosophy of life forged by her long experience. She repeated: “Forget the past; it is still early for tomorrow “and” Smile at life; it will give it to you back ” She also said: “If I could start all over again, I would not marry,because marriage and family pull the artist from his art for which he must devote his life and soul. ” She says after a long moment of meditation: “I would sacrifice my life for my status of mother. My art that I love above all helped me to realize the wishes of my children, send them to the coveted position. Being their mother even encouraged me to be more a star, especially in their eyes.

5

© Archives Sabah

With her daughter Houaida at the Dog River.

THE SECRET ELIXIR OF HER FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. “I love my life with my art; I live for my audience with love and moderation, I must preserve this image of me that my audience has always cherished. I do not drink, I do not smoke either. I browse like a butterfly. I do not sleep less than eight hours per day. The star must also serve as an example to her audience who is attached to her as a symbol. My husbands could not follow the special rules I had established and through which I respect my art. FatenHamama, Farid el Atrash and Abdel Wahab did the same. The latter went to bed at eight o’clock in the evening, ate honey and boiled chicken. ” Her horoscope sign is that of a superwoman, the scorpion; its natives seize lifefully. SABAH AND AWARDS. Friendships bind her to the greatest of this world; kings, presidents and leaders have honored and awarded her with decorations. “The decoration of which I am most proud of is my Lebanese identity. My country has awarded me the particular order of cedar with the title of Commander. ” The ceremony took place in a hotel in Bhamdoun, twentytwo years ago. It was Camille Chamoun who was entrusted by the Minister Joseph Khater to give Sabah the distinction.

3

© Archives Sabah

President Chamoun gave her the Order of the Cedar, with the title of Commander.

«King Hussein of Jordan, who offered me a home during the events in Lebanon, Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, President of Senegal Léopold Senghor all have honored me. President Anwar Sadat also gave me a decoration and I’m a friend of his wife Jihan. ” The King of Morocco, Hassan II has received her a whole month: he was ill and vowed to welcome Sabah; he healed and fulfilled his vow. The king did not let her return to Lebanon since the 1967 war raged. His mother even suggested  to the singer to settle in Morocco. Sabah was also offered in the U.S. keys of eighteen cities and received all the honors in Brazil. President Hafez al-Assad gave her carte blanche when he saw her sing in the international program «Le grand échiquier» prepared by Jacques Chancel. “President Assad is like a dream, in the sense that we can not seize him. He is the best sponsor that is true for any artist in need. President Elias Sarkis … We were childhood friends and neighbors in Sursock neighborhood; he slapped me one day when we were playing hopscotch. President Amin Gemayel, gave me a decoration at Abou Chacra theater. ” Her village honored her by naming asquare after her name. The street of a neighborhood in Hazmieh where Sabah lives bears her name. Another distinction that covers her with prideis the medal awarded by the State of Palestine. SABAH PIONEER OF LEBANESE SONGS. Among some 85 films made between Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, the most significant remain for Sabah: Al Ayadi el Naima of Toufic El Hakim, Chari’el Hob and three films in the company of Farid el Atrache: Izzaï Ansak, Lahen el Hob, Boulboul Effendi. It is also known that Sabah required to present a Lebanese song in each of her films, which helped to internationalize the Lebanese song. Our national singer had the privilege to play in the first Egyptian film in color. Three thousand two hundred songs to date, one of the most prolific repertories for Sabah, the star of Baalbeck Festivals and el Kalaa, el Challal of Romeo Lahoud, Dawalib el Hawa, Mawsam el izz of the Rahbani brothers and the latest Tadallou bikhair. We are indebted to him for having launched the musical theater worthy of the name. Let us mention a few pieces Sit El Koll, Wadi Chamsine, el Jounoun Founoun. SABAH INTHE WORLD. “I sang on the stages of the most famous theaters in the world: the Carnegie Hall in New York, the Olympia in Paris, the Palace of Arts in Belgium, the Sports Palace, the Palais des Congrès and the Sidney Opera House and the Albert Hall in London, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Las Vegas … She keeps among her best memories, her performance with Mohammed Kehlaoui at the Cinema in Jerusalem in 1944. The most famous of her evenings was undoubtedly Adwa ‘al Madina in which took part the biggest stars, including Egyptian Abdel Wahab, Abdel Halim Hafez, Warda, Fayza Ahmed,FaydaKamel, in their company she sang the Egyptian national anthem, composed by Abdel Wahab during the term of Abdel Nasser. She says also owing much to Egypt: she was born there artistically, she matured.

4

© Archives Sabah

Sabah and Fadi Loubnan in a scene from the show “Hello Cairo” showing for three consecutive years.