BEIRUT: Family and friends filled the Saint Nicolas Church in Beirut’s Ashrafieh area Sunday as they said their final goodbyes to one of Lebanon’s most beloved singers and composers, Melhem Barakat, who passed away two days ago.
His coffin arrived from the nearby Hotel Dieu Hospital at around 10 a.m. to the Greek Orthodox church, where a funeral mass was held by Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Aoude at around 1 p.m. It arrived in a black hearse with a large picture of the late singer on top, as loudspeakers played his songs.
His life-time friend and Lebanese poet Nizar Francis helped carry the coffin inside the church.
Many Lebanese singers and politicians were present at the funeral mass.
"We are going to miss a lot of his songs, words and laughter...It's not only a loss for his town, family and fans, but one for all music," Lebanese singer, Ragheb Alama said.
The renowned singer passed away Friday at the age of 71, after battling an illness.
The funeral convoy later departed to the Mount Lebanon town of Kfarshima, the home town of Barakat, where he will be buried.
Hundreds of people joined in the funeral procession in the town, which took place around 3 p.m.
Barakat was one of the few Arab singers to perform in colloquial Lebanese Arabic, a stylistic choice that he defended throughout his career.
The Lebanese musical icon also launched an acting career, appearing in several films in the 1980s and participating in many of the acclaimed Rahbani Brothers’ musicals.
When the musical legend wasn’t singing, he was composing songs and collaborating with famed artists such as Ghassan Saliba, Majida Al-Roumi, Najwa Karam and Carol Sakr.
He is survived by his three children from his first marriage Majd, Waed and Ghinwa, and a son named Melhem Junior from his second.