The Evolution of Lebanese Music: Then & Now


Nancy Ajram

Music is an important part of Middle Eastern culture, and Lebanon has one of the richest musical histories of any Middle Eastern country. To help our patrons learn more about why Terrace’s Lounge singers perform some of the songs they do, we explored the evolution of Lebanese music from World War II to present day.

Lebanese Music After WWII

Though Lebanon had been known for its art and intellectualism long before World War II, Middle Eastern singers like Fairuz, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, Nasri Shamseddine, Salwa Katrib, Majida El Roumi, Ahmad Kaabour, Marcel Khalife, and Ziad Rahbany began emerging after the war ended in 1945. This period of musical prosperity lasted until 1975, when the nation was plunged into a bloody civil war.

Civil War: The 1970’s & 1980’s

As the Lebanese Civil War raged on, Lebanese youth began embracing popular Western rock music as a means to cope and rebel against the violence around them. Bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, and Scorpions were popular, and one Rolling Stones concert even sold out in five hours. During this period, singer/songwriter Lydia Canaan began challenging millennium-old gender barriers by performing under the stage name Angel. Her bravery inspired other musicians to form an underground music scene that still thrives to this day.

Lebanese Popular Music Today

Modern-day Lebanese has enjoyed a resurgence of pop stars in the last decade, and many of these stars’ songs are often covered by lounge singers and wedding performers at Middle Eastern restaurants, venues, and events. Once such star, Nancy Ajram, has tallied a number of platinum records, international best-selling singles, and awards (including a World Music Awards for Best-selling Middle Eastern Artist, the youngest Arab WMA winner to claim the honor). In addition to being an internationally-recognized figure, Ms. Ajram is also the first and only female sponsor and spokesperson of Coca-Cola in the Middle East and Arab world, and was described on The Oprah Winfrey Show as one of the most influential personalities of the Middle East. Nancy’s official Facebook page is the most subscribed female Arabic artist page on the social media network.

To hear authentic Middle Eastern songs by Lebanese and Armenian artists, come visit Terrace Restaurant and Lounge every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Night. For more information about which singer is performing on which evening, click here!