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Wadih El Safi dies aged 92

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Wadih El Safi – one of the pillars of Arab music – has died at the age of 92 in a hospital in Lebanon.

Wadih El Safi was at the forefront of a movement that made Lebanese music hugely popular in the region.

Often referred to as the “voice of Lebanon”, Wadih El Safi Safi was one of the big names in what was seen as a golden age of Arab music.

Since his death was announced, many have paid tribute to what they describe as a musical legend.

Wadih El Safi Safi was with his son when he was taken ill on Friday, and later died in hospital.

Wadih El Safi was at the forefront of a movement that made Lebanese music hugely popular in the region

Wadih El Safi was at the forefront of a movement that made Lebanese music hugely popular in the region

A Christian, Wadih El Safi first came to prominence in the late 1930s when he won a Lebanese singing contest.

In subsequent decades, Wadih El Safi contributed to a movement revitalizing Lebanese music that saw it spread in influence across the Arab world.

With a catalogue of some 3,000 songs, Wadih El Safi Safi was best known for creating a modernized form of folk music, but he also sang Lebanese and Arabic poetry.

Hundreds have paid tribute to Wadih El Safi since his death was announced, with some dubbing him the Frank Sinatra of the Middle East.

A union for Lebanese musicians has called on the authorities to declare a national day of mourning, the NNA news agency reports.

Meanwhile, the office of President Michel Suleiman described Wadih El Safi’s death as a “great loss for Lebanon’s folk music”.

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