BEIRUT: Lebanese diva Fayrouz has released her first music video in years, paying tribute to her late husband Assi Rahbani by incorporating one of his poems into the Christian Ave Maria prayer.
“Ave Maria/Oh beginning of Peace/ Oh Peace the highest of my joys/My refuge from the days,” Fayrouz sings in her characteristic angelic voice to a vast opening overlooking the hills.
The 6-minute video, released late last week, is reminiscent of the artist’s early montages, with Fayrouz set against a backdrop of forestry in a light turquoise gown wavering in the open fields.
“Peace be upon you oh joy of the [skies] above,” Fayrouz sings to Virgin Mary. “Peace be upon you, my shelter and strength during [difficult] days. You are the light that illuminates my long dark nights, oh Virgin Mary.”
Without a single close-up, this video distinguishes itself by capturing distant shots of the Arab world’s most prominent living singer as she moves down steep valley paths or lifts her head to the sky in a semblance of prayer.
The lyrics feature the poetry of the late Assi Rahbani and were played against Schubert’s original Ave Maria music score.
For several years, Fayrouz, her late-husband Assi and his brother Mansur collaborated to create the so-called “golden era” of Lebanese music. In 1979, the trio separated and since then Fayrouz has collaborated with her son composer and songwriter Ziad Rahbani.
The latest music video was produced and directed by Fayrouz and Assi Rahbani’s daughter, Rima Rahbani, who has been the diva’s long-term manager.
The music icon, who had been absent from the music scene for years, sparked controversy last year when Ziad Rahbani announced that his mother supported Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
Rima Rahbani, however, dismissed her brother’s remarks in a Facebook post, saying no one was allowed to make statements on behalf of Fayrouz sparking tensions within the family.
During an interview earlier this year, Ziad admitted that he was not on speaking terms with his mother and sister after the Nasrallah controversy, raising questions about future collaborations between the successful duo.
Unlike her collaboration with the Rahbani brothers, which could be characterized as conventional and conservative, Fayrouz’s repertoire under Ziad is creative, playful, realistic with an obvious engagement to current affairs and causes.
Under Ziad, each song is craftily composed to depict a portion of life. With Ziad, Fayrouz is not the same woman as the one her fans met 40 years ago with Assi and Mansour Rahbani, when, in those songs, life tumbles down whenever her “lover” leaves.