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Wadi Al-Safi

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Biography

One of Lebanon's most influential vocalists, Wadi Al-Safi is best-known for his interpretations of mawals by Arabic poets Ataba, Mijana, and Abu el Zuluf. Touring around the world, Al-Safi has brought his songs -- which he sings in the Arabic, French, Brazilian, and Italian language -- to enthusiastic audiences for more than half a century. Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti remarked on the spiritual qualities of Al-Safi's singing when he claimed, "this man does not sing alone, it feels like somebody sings with him." Al-Safi first attracted attention at the age of 17 when he placed first among 50 contestants in a singing contest sponsored by a radio station in his home village of Niha. Traveling to Brazil in 1947, he spent three years performing in the country's Lebanese community. Returning to Lebanon in 1950, Al-Safi turned his attention to the folk music of his homeland, performing poetry and Zajal to inspire patriotism, love, devotion, and honor. Al-Safi received an honorary doctorate from the University of Kaslik. ~ Craig Harris