The night brings a new star
Ghada Abdel-Kader enjoys an evening with singer Randa Hafez
It is summer time and the nights are hot, sometimes too hot for complete enjoyment of musical and theatrical performances. It's a time for light and careless fun. Then last Thursday came a concert in the River Hall at the Sawi Culture Wheel that was so cool that it blew the heat away.
The appearance of singer Randa Hafez was heralded by a huge crowd of young people, many of them teenagers, trying to buy tickets. Unfortunately for them the concert was already sold out.
The show began in time at 9 pm in open air theatre. Most members of the audiences soon left their seats to stand in front of the stage dancing, taking photographs and clapping to the rhythm. On stage, Hafez looked radiant in a short beige dress with black ribbon strapped round her waist. The wide smile was genuine. "I am so happy to be here with you tonight," she greeted the audience before going to sing numbers from her first album Mayala. ( Yearning). Later she gave us a taste of some traditional songs such as Fayza Ahmed's Betasal leh Alaia (Why are you calling me now?), Mohamed Adaweya's Bint al-Sultan (Daughter of the Sultan).
Among those present was the composer and singer Nader Nour, who came on stage to join Hafez in a duet for her song Mayala, for which he composed the music. The lyrics were written by the poet Amir Te'ema.
"Hafez is a very talented singer," Nour told Al-Ahram Weekly after the show. "Her voice has a good Egyptian tone, and I am very happy to have cooperated with her on her first album. We are working together and we'll be preparing several songs in the coming period."
Hafez was born in the United Arab Emirates and spent a long period of her childhood in the Gulf, returning to Egypt to attend university. She is now freshly graduated from the faculty of Arts.
Hafez's musical induction began with the piano and accordion. Her talent was picked up by the school music teacher, who told her father this was just the beginning. Hafez has been singing professionally for only a year.
Her first album Mayala was released on 24 September 2009. "The album contains 11 songs," Hafez told the Weekly. "All the people I worked with are stars in the front row, song writers like Amr Mustafa, Khaled Tag El-Din and Ayman Bahagat Amar, and music composers like Tarek Ali, Mohamed Yehia and Nader Nour and distributors such as Tameem Tomma and Ahmed Ibrahim."
Hafez made a video clip for her song Sakata Leh (Why Silent?) The lyrics were written by Ayman Bahagat Amar, the music was composed by Mohamed Yehia and the clip was directed by Yasser Sami and Mohamed Said. The album is produced by the relatively new Top Music Company and distributed by the Good News Company. "I was so lucky to unite with these two companies," Hafez added.
Hafez likes to vary her singing styles. She loves to sing all types of music, depending mainly on the words and their meaning. A few days ago she finished shooting two video clips for the songs Asab Haga (The Hardest Thing) and Ya Albi Ertah (My Heart Should Rest). The clips, both directed by Shadi Abdel-Alim, are due for release soon: one will be out within the next 10 days and the other will be released soon after Ramadan."
A month ago Hafez won the prize for best rising singer at the Middle East Music Awards 2010 (MEMA), which is run under the auspices of the Egyptian Musical Professions' Syndicate. MEMA award nominees and winners are decided according to the results of two rounds; round one selects the nominees as a result of a public vote; round two is the selection of the winners by the MEMA committee. "Awards are a symbolic thing," Hafez says. "It makes any artist feels happy to be rewarded because it is direct reaction to the huge effort he or she has put in."