Monday, May 30, 2022

Fairouz vs Elissa: Why is everyone forgetting that "Hanna el Sekran" is an Elias Rahbani song?

Image credit: Rima Rahbani

First the facts:

Ultra popular singer Elissa recently sang on stage a song. "Hanna el Sekran" (Hanna the drunk), altering the words "ysawer bint el jiran" (drawing the girl next door) to "yzabit bit el jiran" (screw the girl next door). 

Cue the uproar.

Enter Rima Rahbani daughter of iconic singer Fairouz who herself had a version of that song (and one of its most renowned interpretations of it). Who - in her usual - fiery but sometimes trashy replies put the blame above and beyond Elissa on her own cousin Oussama Rabhani (Oussama having organized the concert where the snafu happened). She is by the way, not only the daughter of Fairouz but also Assi Rahbani, one half of the super-song writing duo "Rahbani Brothers" (Assi and Mansour - Oussama being Mansour's son).

Yes, I know, quite complicated.

Now Rima is up in arms that no one should sing "her mother's songs". Which technically is not true. Because in the copyright laws once you pay the legal fees to the writers/composers you actually can. Plus in certain cases, performing publicly a song you can waive such rights.

The other problem? Hanna el Sekran is actually an Elias Rahbani composition (younger brother of the Assi and Mansour). Meaning neither of his eldest brothers had anything to do with it, and the first version was in the voice of the late (great) Melhem Barakat before Fairouz put her stamp on it. I digress, but one of Fairouz's songs I love best - El Bosta - was originally a Joseph Sakr song (written by Fairouz's son - legendary composer and writer Ziad Rahbani for him (Sakr) to interpret in one of Ziad's plays Nazl El Sourour).

Which brings us to - why is everyone forgetting that the song originally had nothing to do with either parents of Rima Rahbani?

This does not absolve Elissa. But also does not Absolve Rima either.

The only redeeming factor? Rima just published an updated photo of her mother arranging a flower in a vase.