In the Tamim family home in Beirut, a grand, if run-down French mandate-era house, Abed al-Sattar Tamim recalls his daughter's musical beginnings: as a toddler Suzan was the neighborhood doll, singing religious music for family and friends.
Tamim grew into a teenage beauty queen, admired and desired by men but sheltered by her conservative Muslim family. Picnics, trips to the beach and, crucially, encounters with boys, were under her father's careful eye.
"She lived a full life but under my auspices," said Tamim's father. "I sometimes regret that I was over-protective as she was growing up."
Under that protection Suzan developed a quick trust in people, particularly men. As a college student at Beirut Arab University, she met and married a classmate, Ali Mouzannar. In 1996, soon after the two eloped, Suzan won a competition called "Studio Al Fan," a televised talent show akin to "American Idol." Her music was a hit, Suzan a new entry in Lebanon's long roster of singing starlets.
The success worried her conservative father, uncomfortable with his daughter's beauty on display within the highly sexualized world of music entertainment.
"I often used to pray that she wouldn't win," said Tamim's father.
"My daughter was beautiful and she had a beautiful voice, but I didn't want her to follow this path. I wanted her to get a good education, get married, to have a normal life in the midst of her family."
But Suzan wanted to sing. Fame and marriage would liberate her, to a point. She moved out of her family home, dropped out of school, and had Mouzannar start managing her career. The newlyweds had a troubled relationship over time, Mouzannar wanted more control over her movements.
"Problems started between him and her family, why he didn't want to divorce her," said Hanadi Issa, a journalist who knew Tamim and her first husband.
"To him she was a business, a possession," said Khalil Tamim, Suzan's soft-spoken brother.
With her career tied up in her marriage, Suzan called for help. Her family brought her home and helped her file for divorce. But the experience, says her father, set her on a confused path of failed relationships. Rather than confront problems, she would run from them and toward the next man.
Suzan's next step would lead to Adel Maatouk, a well-connected music producer who took her on as a client and helped shake off her ties to Mouzannar.
"Maatouk was a way out, so she took it. Then they got married and the problems began," said journalist Hanadi Issa.
Maatouk became Suzan's second manager-husband. He flew her to Paris to perform at his club, L'Oscar Elysee, known for its Middle Eastern ambience and entertainment. Suzan pressed through concerts and recordings, building on her fan base from Studio Al Fan.
But, according to her family, Suzan chafed as her husband became increasingly possessive. With her family's help she moved away from Maatouk. Tamim's family says the two were divorced, though Maatouk insists they remained married up to the time of Tamim's death. Al Bawaba, a regional news source, reported in 2003 that Tamim was granted a divorce by an Islamic scholar, but that Maatouk refused to recognize the religious ruling. A Tamim family lawyer says the question is being settled in court, the answer playing heavily into who controls Suzan Tamim's estate.