Who was Melhem Barakat? Google Doodle honours Lebanese singer-songwriter

August 15 would have been the star's 76th birthday

Melhem Barakat is the subject of Sunday's Google Doodle, as the search engine's homepage shows an illustration of the star on what would have been his 76th birthday.

The singer-songwriter was born on August 15 and is widely regarded as one of Lebanon’s most distinguished musicians. He is acclaimed for his unique musical style and his sensational live performances.

The regional Doodle can be viewed in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Australia and New Zealand.

Barakat, who died in 2016, is seen holding a microphone and wearing a white suit while singing, in the illustration.

Who was Melhem Barakat?

Barakat was born in 1945 in Kfarshima, Lebanon.

He inherited his love for music from his father, who also taught him how to play the oud. When he was 18, he dropped out of school and enrolled in the National Institute of Music without his father’s knowledge. However, he would eventually drop out of that school, too.

Barakat started his career in the 1960s as an actor and singer in musical theatre productions. As his career progressed, he began to compose original music that combined classical elements with improvisation.

He established a huge fan base in the Arab world and appeared in several Lebanese films in the 1980s. He also began touring internationally, from Australia to the US. Since the 1990s, he had several popular song releases, including Habibi Enta, Keef and Ya Hobi Elly Ghab. He has also collaborated with fellow stars Najwa Karam, Karol Sakr and Shatha Hassoun.

In 2008, he received the lifetime achievement award at Lebanon’s annual Murex D'or ceremony.

Kevin Laughlin, who created the illustration, explains the inspiration behind it. "I began by watching old recordings of Barakat’s performances, trying to get a sense of the singer’s stage presence, performance style and how his fans might have seen him on screen or at home," he explains.

“There were two main inspirations, stylistically, for this Doodle. The first were stills from the recordings I mentioned above. There’s a kind of washed-out quality to the image, which results in blown highlights and highly saturated shadows.

“The second inspiration was pulp fiction covers from the 1940s and 1950s. The artists who illustrated those covers had a knack for creating lifelike portraits with very few colours, which could sometimes add to a heightened sense of drama.”

Scroll through below to see some of the most recent regional Google Doodles:

Updated: August 15th 2021, 7:00 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one