Fairouz: Still going strong at 80

Updated 22 November 2015
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Fairouz: Still going strong at 80

BEIRUT: For decades, almost all radio stations in the Arab world have been starting their morning broadcast with a Fairouz song. The tradition continues today even as the Arab diva, also known in this part of the world as ‘Our Ambassador to the Stars’, turned 80-years-old on Nov. 21.
Nuhad Haddad, who became known later as Fairouz, was born in 1935, to a Lebanese family that is Christian Maronite and Syrian Orthodox, according to her website. She later converted to the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith when she married savvy musician Assi Rahbani, the eldest of the two Rahbani brothers who effectively shaped Fairouz’s career, reported Al-Bawaba.
Since her first song in the mid 1940s, the Arabs fell in love with Fairouz. In a career spanning more than six decades, she recorded nearly 1,500 songs, 85 CDs, 20 musicals and three movies. Although she began performing on air in the mid 1940s and produced her first album, Etab, in 1952, her first international appearance was in 1957, at Lebanon’s famed Baalbeck International Festival, alongside British prima ballerina Beryl Goldwyn and the Ballet Rambert. She was paid one Lebanese pound for that show, Fairouz reportedly said in an interview years later. But she won big. The concert established her as one of the biggest stars of that era when the Arab music arena was crowded with legendary names such as the great Umm Kulthoum, Shadia, Najat and Faiza Ahmad.
Her last album, produced in 2010, was titled, appropriately, Eh . fi amal (Yes, there is hope).
Her son, Ziad, in an interview last year didn’t rule out a new one. Millions of her fans cling to hope.


Modi or Gandhi? Indian mystics split over poll outcome

Updated 17 min 24 sec ago
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Modi or Gandhi? Indian mystics split over poll outcome

  • Larra Shah expects Modi to be returned, but with a vastly reduced majority
  • Raj Kumar Sharma thinks opposition leader Rahul Gandhi will win

MUMBAI: Transgender mystic Zoya Lobo turns over three oracle cards, studies them for a minute and looks up. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will definitely win India’s general election this summer, she proclaims.
Clairvoyant Larra Shah also predicts a victory for Modi owing to his “extremely powerful aura,” but astrologer Raj Kumar Sharma thinks opposition leader Rahul Gandhi will win because his party’s moon sign is Virgo.
Vedic astrology is big business in Hindu-majority India and stargazers are making a host of predictions for the world’s biggest elections starting next month — their many followers hanging on every utterance.
Some 900 million voters are registered to cast ballots in the vote in April and May which will see Gandhi’s Congress party seek to dislodge Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power.
Shah, 49, a celebrity holistic healer who practices tarot reading, says most of them will plump for Modi, himself a devout Hindu.
“When it comes to tarot cards Modi is like the emperor or the magician where the power of self-knowledge, of spiritual balance, of karma, is in perfection,” she explains to AFP.
“Rahul Gandhi is more like the devil because he’s always confused. There is a conflict there because he is a Gemini so has a dual personality,” Shah adds.
Modi, 68, and the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP swept to power five years ago by winning 282 out of 543 seats, forming the country’s first majority government in almost three decades.
Shah expects Modi to be returned, but with a vastly reduced majority. Pre-election polling suggests an even closer contest, with many forecasting that neither party will win the 272 seats needed for a majority.
Lobo also has a prediction that hits closer to home for her — a 35 percent chance that Modi will do something to help India’s two-million-strong transgender community.
Indians consult soothsayers for advice on a raft of subjects from whom to marry to whether to buy a house or strike a business deal.
Many businessmen, Bollywood actors and politicians have personal astrologers scrutinize their stars closely to determine auspicious days to hold functions, release a movie or make political announcements.
For the election, Sharma says the planets are aligning in favor of Congress — based on the birth dates of the parties and their leaders — and that it will be able to persuade smaller, regional parties to join them in a coalition.
“Congress’s moon sign is Virgo and at present a favorable Jupiter Mahadasha (period) is happening for them while the BJP’s moon sign is Scorpio,” he explains.
“Rahul Gandhi’s favorable period has started and his moon is more powerful than Narendra Modi’s moon so my prediction is very clear: Rahul Gandhi will either become the prime minister or will make the prime minister with the support of his party.”
He sees the elections being “extremely volatile” because they were declared at an inauspicious time — when the sun was setting instead of rising — and that they may witness more violence between India and Pakistan.