Complex Made Simple

Hitting the high note

Media personality Ragheb Alama talks to Aficionado about his burgeoning singing career and his latest TV role as a judge on Arab Idol.
By Sabah Gamil

Is a new album on the horizon?
We are collecting some old songs to re-record them, but this project is still under study. For the album, we need some time to announce it.

Tell us about your duet with Turkish singer Askin Nouryengi.
I decided to release a song in 2012 in Turkey after I thought about the cultural convergence which exists between the Arab world and Turkey. It’s great to share artistic work, and this will result in work which will be loved by Arabic and Turkish audiences. Askin Nouryengi is an important Turkish singer, with great artistic ability. We chose the song together, by the Greek composer Papadopolus. It will be released in April in Turkey, and then the rest of the Arab world.

From your point of view, is the success of a singer related to video success?
Video is an integral element of a song’s success, but it’s not the reason for a successful song.

As the owner of a production company, what are you apprehensive about?
I’m like a bird; I don’t like to be restricted. I don’t like the conditions, the permitted and unpermitted lists of production companies; that’s why I’m free and not restricted. I can release my songs and announce them through radio and television shows, and make interviews with whom I like.

In a world where piracy has killed traditional music companies and revenues, what’s the future for singers?
Nowadays, the singer is not in the best situation, because of the piracy, as you mentioned, and also the misunderstanding of what makes an artist. The solution is to let the artist work on himself . . . to market his concerts, because, unfortunately, the countries and policies . . . they don’t care about this, so the singer is considered “poor and orphan”.

How were you chosen as an arbitration committee member on Arab Idol?
Samar Akrouk, MBC channel’s manager in Lebanon, asked to meet with me to explain the program idea. I was hesitant to accept in the beginning, but after my discussion with Samar, I accepted.

Have you discovered anything in yourself since being a judge?
I’m a fair person and I have justice in life, but I can’t hide that I was afraid of taking this step. But after I took it, I discovered that I have the ability to manage the artistic committees and found that people accepted me. Not just the singers on stage, but also the arbitration committee . . . and I didn’t know that I had these abilities, and I found I succeeded in this.
This impression was obvious though my connection with my audience on Twitter, and the opinions which are expressing the happiness of my audience from old and  young generations.

To what extent are you like what we see on screen?
I am as I am on screen, I don’t change. What I express off screen is the same as what you see on screen.


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