Al-Ahram Weekly Online   18 - 24 October 2012
Issue No. 1119
Youth page
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Clean singing

Gehad Hussein argues that the wish to be a star does not kill morals or principles

The underground music scene in Egypt is extraordinary, full of diversity and talent -- but very dirty as well, according to Nour Emam, a 20-year-old Egyptian student and singer.

"Music has always been a major part of my life since I was a baby. I sing everything from jazz and blues to soul to folk acoustic and even Brazilian."

Studying design, majoring in media and mainly interested in photography, it may seem like Emam has drifted away from her passion, but reality proves the contrary. Emam is a frequent performer in the Sawy Culture Wheel, the Cairo Opera House and music festivals.

Like anything in Egypt, the journey to musical stardom is a path of struggles. Emam is bothered by her constant search for good, young musicians since she believes that creating and developing one's own style needs flexible and creative supporters and companions. This seems to be a rare asset, according to Emam, after she experienced what it was like to sing in a band that consisted of 35 to 40-year-olds. "Now I sing with Bluenotes, and the difference is noticeable. The band's members are much younger."

Fortunately, Emam has luck on her side. Unlike many artists in various fields, her parents fully support where she is heading. They attend every concert and most rehearsals and are enthusiastic about their daughter's talent. When talking about motivation, Emam refers to her friends -- or "groupies" as she likes to call them -- who believed in her and her voice all along.

One problem remains for Emam: the Egyptian underground music scene is "dirty", as she claims. "If you want people to know you, you have to sing in pubs, bars and clubs, and I have a strict rule about that with myself. I would never perform anywhere where alcohol is being served. I only perform in places where people come to listen to music -- where people give music its importance."

But this does not discourage Emam in any way, she says. "I'll just keep doing what I do. I don't expect to become an international anything, but I'm hoping with time I can release an album. Record something really new, really fresh. But let's see where life will take me."

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