Friday, December 6, 2013

American singer almost won ''Arabs got Talent

Update Sunday 8/12:  Arabs Got Talent was won by the Syrian dance group Sima. The 23-year old American Jennifer Grout performed the song “Wahashtini” (“I’ve Missed You”) by Nour Mhanna,but did not win. The fact that she had been one of three finalists, however, was already a remarkable achievement  for someone who does not speak Arabic. (en of update)

MBC's show 'Arabs got talent' might well be in for a surprise yet again. Last year it was the Palestinian Mohammed Assaf from Gaza who came as it were from nowhere an won big time. This year it might be even more astonishing: 23-year old Jennifer Grout from Massachussets the United States, who hardly speaks a word of Arabic is a finalist an has been tipped as possible winner. This Saturday during the finals in Beirut, the final results will be known. 
Jennifer spent most of her life studying classical music, is what CNN reported about her. But studying at McGill University in Montreal she came across an article online about the famous Lebanese singer Fairouz. ''And  I was just really mesmerized by her singing," she remembers. "It was like nothing I had heard before."
The next thing she discovered was the famous Egyptian 'nightingale'  Umm Kulthoum, and that changed her life. She began studying Arabic and learning how to play the oud. After college, she moved to Morocco, where she learned local Berber music and began performing in Marrakesh's Jemaa el Fnaa Square.
The above video is taken during her first appearance at ''Arabs got talent'' and it's hilarious, because it shows how she had a hard time with the jury speaking almost only Arabic (and the jury with her not speaking Arabic at all). But her interpretation of Umm Kulthoum's  ''I forgot the sleep and its dreams'' (nisseet il-noum w'ahlamhu) was warmly welcomed. Her performance of Syrian singer Asmahan's "Ya Toyour (Oh Birds)" got her through to the finals. And tomorrow evening we'll know more.

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