Insight - Nancy Ajram
Written by Heba Hashem
The multi-award-winning Lebanese artist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador has sold millions of records, and was ranked number 90 on Arabian Business ‘World’s Most Influential Arabs’ list for 2010. What’s remarkable, though, is that Nancy Ajram is only 27.
If you haven’t seen Nancy Ajram in one of her sensational music videos, such as Lamset Eed (A Touch of the Hand) or Mashi Hadi (Walking with Me), then you must have spotted her in a Coca-Cola or Sony Ericsson commercial. But if you haven’t, then you’ve probably noticed her sparkling in Damas Jewellery’s World Gold Council collection – which she chose herself.
From young and trendy for Coca-Cola to sophisticated and smart in Damas, Nancy’s style may change but her innocence continues to illuminate through her eyes and winning smile. “I always do some changes to my look, for I like to appear in different styles all the time,” she explains to Oryx.
Last year, Oprah Winfrey referred to her as ‘Britney of the Middle East’, in an episode titled Fame Around the World, it was the first time a Middle-Eastern artist was featured on Oprah’s show.
However, dozens of YouTube comments from dedicated fans prove that they perceive their idol very differently. While some insist that Nancy is classier and smarter, others say she is more talented than her US counterpart. “I feel really happy when I see that my work is getting to the highest levels of success possible, and when I feel that my fans really love and appreciate the songs that I offer them,” she confides.
Nancy’s talent began to blossom when she was only four, although it was as an 8-year-old that her passion for music was revealed – when she was awarded a trophy in a UNICEF children’s singing competition. In 1995, Nancy took part in ‘Noujoum Al-Moustakbal’ (Stars of the Future), a Lebanese reality television competition, and she won first prize in the Tarab category. Three years later, when she was 15, Nancy released her first album Mihtagalak (‘I Need You’).
?One of the most notable characteristics of Nancy Ajram’s music is the energy it radiates, whether in the lyrics or her distinctive voice. Unlike many Arab singers, who express their sorrows about break-ups, revenge, and betrayal, Nancy has taken a different path and celebrates the joy of reuniting, love, marriage, or simply light-hearted, joyful beats that reach out to whoever listens to them. Although she initially sang in the Egyptian dialect, it didn’t take long before she performed in Gulf and Lebanese dialects, gaining even greater popularity across the Arab world.
Adding to the excitement of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, Nancy teamed up with famous Somali singer K’naan earlier this year to sing the Arabic version of the official promotional anthem ‘Waving Flag’. “It was a great and new experience for me – especially since it’s an international song.”
When she’s not singing or filming, Nancy enjoys spending time at home with her family, and also finds pleasure in travelling. “I like to travel to many places, especially to locations on the coast of the sea and big modern cities.” Every summer, Nancy surprises her fans with appearances in various locations and festivals. “I have fans in the Arab world as a whole. Music and art cannot be limited, [because] they are borderless. This summer 2010, I plan to have performances in Lebanon as well as other Arab countries.”
Nancy is an avid football supporter. In 2006, she released Ana Masry (I am Egyptian), timed to coincide with Egypt’s hosting and winning of the African Cup. The hit was filmed showing Egyptians representing the country’s diversity as they lip-synched the patriotic lyrics of the song.
Since 1995, the Lebanese star has been given a number of awards and titles, including an honour from the Opera House of Egypt; the Golden Lion Award in Egypt; Best Arabic Star of the Year 2007 in Kol el Arab Survey; Best Female Arab Star of 2008 in Al Jumhuriya newspaper’s Freedom magazine; and Best Female Arab Singer of the Year in the Arabian Music Awards.
On July 1, 2010, Nancy will be performing in Damascus, Syria, in a benefit event in aid of the blind and mentally challenged.