Wadih El Safi (Arabic: وديع الصافي, born Wadi' Francis; November 1, 1921 - October 11, 2013) was a Lebanese singer, songwriter,composer and actor. He is a Lebanese cultural icon, and is often called the "Voice of Lebanon". Born in Niha, Lebanon, Wadih El Safi started his artistic journey at the age of seventeen when he took part in a singing contest held by Lebanese Radio and was chosen the winner among forty other competitors.
Wadih El Safi is a classically trained tenor, having studied at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music. He became nationally known when, at seventeen, he won a vocal competition sponsored by the Lebanese Broadcasting Network. El Safi began composing and performing songs that drew upon his rural upbringing and love of traditional melodies, blended with an urban sound, and creating a new style of modernized Lebanese folk music
In 1947, El Safi traveled to Brazil, where he remained until 1950.
El Safi toured the world, singing in many languages, including Arabic, Syriac, French, Portuguese and Italian, accompanied by his son George.
In the spring of 1973, El Safi recorded and released a vinyl single with the songs "Grishlah Idi" lyrics by Ninos Aho and "Iman Ya Zawna" (lyrics by Amanuel Salamon), first one in Western Syriac and second one in Eastern Syriac. The music arrangements were done by Nuri Iskandar and the songs were produced especially for an Assyrian Musical Festival (in popular speech UNESCO Festival) which was organized twice by the Assyrian Lebanese Association in 1972-73, which occurred in the UNESCO building in Beirut at that time where El Safi participated as a singer.
Songs and recordings:
Wadih El Safi has sung over 3000 songs. He is well known for his mawawil (an improvised singing style) of 'Ataba, mijana, and Abu el Zuluf. He has performed and recorded with many well-known Lebanese musicians such as Fairouz, and Sabah.
Health problems and death:
In 1990, Wadih El Safih underwent open heart surgery. In 2012, he broke his leg and had to have surgery to mend the fracture. After the surgery, his health declined quickly. In 2013, he was admitted to hospital, suffering from pulmonary consolidation. On October 11, 2013, he fell ill at his son's home and was rushed to the Bellevue Medical Center where he died. His funeral was held at Saint George Maronite Cathedral, Beirut on October 14, 2013.