Wadih El Safi (Arabic: وديع الصافي, born Wadi' Francis) (November 1, 1921 – October 11, 2013) was a Lebanese singer songwriter, and actor. He became a Lebanese cultural icon, and was 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 fifty other competitors.
Wadih El Safi was 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.
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 Aramean Festival, which occurred in the UNESCO building in Beirut at that time where El Safi participated as a singer.
El Safi has written 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, including , Fairouz, and Sabah.
In 1990, Wadih El Safi 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.
The discography of Wadih El Safi as a singer includes the following:
- Best of Wadi – Vol. 1
- Best of Wadi – Vol. 2
- Best of Wadi – Vol. 3
- Inta Omri
- The Two Tenors:Wadi Al Safi Aad Sabah Fakhri
- Wadih El-Safi and José Fernandez
- Wetdallou Bkheir
- Rouh ya zaman al madi atfal qana
- Chante Le Liban
- Wadi El Safi / Legends Of The 20th Century
- Mersal El Hawa
- Mahrajan Al Anwar
- Youghani Loubnan
- Ajmal El Aghani
The discography of Wadih El Safi as a composer includes the following:
- Cantiques de l'Orient
- Psaumes Pour Le 3ème Millénaire
The discography of Wadih El Safi as a sideman includes the following:
- Music of Arabia, Hanaan and her ensemble (withWadih El-Safi on oud)