CAIRO: Captivating over 1,300 fans with a stunning performance, Awakening Records artists Maher Zain, Hamza Namira, and Massoud Kurtis performed to a full house at the American University’s (AUC) Spring concert Thursday.
Organized by AUC’s Help Club, the concert tickets were sold out ten days before the Swedish-Lebanese singer Zain’s arrival to Cairo on Wednesday to introduce Egypt to his debut album “Thank You Allah. Including tracks such as ‘Palestine Will Be Free’, ‘Open Your Eyes’, and ‘Insha’Allah’, the album hit the top ten best-selling albums in Amazon UK in February.
“I am so honored to be here, the amount of support I got is inspiring, because it shows that my message spread across cultural barriers, Zain told Daily News Egypt.
Families had traveled from Kuwait, Jordan, and England just for a chance to watch Zain perform live; while Egyptian students traveled for hours from across the country to be there. Distinguished guests such as Hisham Al-Ghazzar from the Egyptian music TV channel Mazzika was also in attendance.
The opening number by Egyptian Hamza Namira, had a powerful impact, especially with a song addressed to Israel in which he expressed his bottled anger, ending with a tearful reality that “the one who is speaking is Egypt, to which the entire audience stood up in solemn respect.
Despite the deep-rooted Islamic feel to his music and lyrics such as those of “Insha’Allah Awakening Records and Zain do not only cater to Muslims; but on the contrary, their message aims to foster love, hope, and tolerance amongst all.
The leading British music video director Mike Harris indeed dubbed Zain as an “exceptional talent and is finalizing procedures with Awakening Records to begin shooting a music video for “Insha’Allah, slated for release next April.
“We are operating on people’s demand, Sherif Al-Banna, CEO of Awakening Worldwide told Daily News Egypt. “Our vision in the cultural field and the music is for it to be entertaining, inspiring, meaningful . and enjoyable, we want to replace [the old image of Islam] with a new image that connects to the youth, that is about humanity, love, and tolerance.
When Awakening Records’ co-founder and talent-spotter Bara Kheriji signed Zain on just over a year ago it was love at first sight: “He is an extremely talented young man, and extremely eager with a memoir of a spiritual journey that he wanted to share. When I met him I was struck by his genuine and humble demeanor, a proud Kherigi told Daily News. “And there is still so much potential for him to grow.
The numbers say it all: with approximately 170,000 fans on Facebook, 23,000 votes for his track “Ya Nabu Salam Alayka catapulting him to the Best Song Award by Cairo-based Nogoom FM, the biggest Arab mainstream radio station, as well as the thousands of supporters worldwide, Maher’s success before the official release of his new album is not a total surprise to the Awakening Records crew who bred stars such as Sami Yusuf, Massoud Kurtis, and Hamza Namira, who sold millions of copies worldwide, turning some of their songs into personal mobile ring tones across the Middle East.
“I knew this concert was going to be a success, but I didn’t expect this turnout. He has been performing only six months and his album is not even out in Egypt yet! Ten days before the concert his tickets were already sold out, Dahlia Galal, Awakening Records publicist in Egypt said. Zain was interviewed on Islamic Channel last week about his last successful performances in December at the Islamic Relief’s 25th anniversary Gala Dinner, which included distinguished guests such as Prince Charles and wife his Camilla Parker-Bowles, and in front of a 17,000-strong audience at the “Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention in Canada, the largest annual convention of the country.
“I came here with my family to see Hamza Namira and Maher Zain because they are rising artists and are the future of the young pop culture of music, and because we love the revolutionary feel of music with a message, said Dahlia Radwan, 45, an Egyptian HR consultant, “this is not the usual empty lyrics we hear on TV, or the classic religious sermons that are not in touch with the new generation, she continued.
“The first time I heard about him was randomly on YouTube and when I heard there was a concert at AUC I wanted to be a part of what it felt to me like history in the making, said Joe Wilkinson, 19, an American study-abroad AUC student from Wisconsin.
Awakening Records has signed an agreement with the world’s most renowned reciter of the Quran, Sheikh Meshary bin Rashed Al-Afasy, for the production of the recital of the Quran, and is to release a new audio lecture series by Imam Farzaga, a dynamic speaker from California State University.