BEIRUT: Renowned Lebanese singer Melhem Barakat passed away Friday after a battle with illness. He was 71.
The esteemed singer and composer, who began his long career in the 1960s, was admitted to the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Beirut more than a month ago, local media reported.
Barakat was one of the few Arab singers to perform in colloquial Lebanese Arabic, a stylistic choice that he defended throughout his career.
The Lebanese musical icon also launched an acting career, appearing in several films in the 1980s and participating in many of the acclaimed Rahbani Brothers’ musicals.
In the early 1990s, Barakat performed with Lebanese dancer Dani Boustros in a Lebanese play titled "Wemsheet Bee Tariki," or “I walked my own path.”
When the musical legend wasn’t singing, he was composing songs and collaborating with famed artists such as Ghassan Saliba, Majida Al-Roumi, Najwa Karam and Carol Sakr.
Born in the Mount Lebanon town of Kfarshima in 1945, Barakat showed an innate talent from an early age and was inspired by Egyptian singer Mohammad Abdel Wahhab,.
Moments after news of his passing, Lebanese poet Nizar Francis tweeted: “My lifelong friend has gone, and I am saddened until my death.”
Prominent Lebanese politicians also mourned Barakat with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea tweeting: "Goodbye composer of Lebanon."
He had three children from his first marriage Majd, Waed and Ghinwa, and a son named Melhem Junior from his second.
Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati said "with the departure of Melhem Barakat we fold a page from the beautiful time that he contributed to with a lot of significant work."
Kataeb chief Sami Gemayel said that "Lebanon lost today (Friday) the prominent Melhem Barakat, and music lost its composer."