In a country with few notable female vocalists, the young Shatha Hassoun, or the “Girl from Mesopotamia,” as Iraqis like to call her, has a voice that warms hearts in Baghdad. Like Afifa Iskandar, Sita Hakobian, Farida and others, she has borne the name and flag of a country that she first saw last month to stages across Europe and the Middle East. She first won the pride of Iraqis with her victory in Lebanon’s “Star Academy 4” TV talent show in 2007. But her appearance last month in two emotional live concert performances in Baghdad were stunning, first at the Al-Alwiya Club on the eastern bank of the Tigris, then at the famed Nadi Al-Seid concert arena.
Shatha told the press she did not hesitate when offered the opportunity to sing in Baghdad. Her agent added that she had “an emotional moment as her plane approached the city and she saw it for the first time.”
Shatha said, “I am happy to be in my country and among my beloved people. For the last two years, I would often hear of people say, ‘When is Shatha coming?’ I was waiting for just such an opportunity, and now I am among my friends, relatives and supporters.”
Shatha said she thought her visit would encourage other Arab artists to come to Baghdad and added that she would urge them to do so.
She currently has plans to film one of her videos in Baghdad and hopes to collaborate with Iraqi composers, including Mohammed Jawad Amouri, with whom she has already met several times. Shatha also hopes to work with Iraqi musician Kadhum Al-Saher, claiming she was one of his biggest fans before becoming a singer herself.
A smiling Shatha left the press conference to offer her fans a variety of love songs and patriotic ballads, including a subtle rendering of “Baghdad” which received an unprecedented emotional response from the audience. Many politicians, media figures and local celebrities were there to hear her.
Shatha Hassoun was born in 1982 in Casablanca, Morocco, to an Iraqi father from Hella and a Moroccan mother. She has divided her time between Morocco and France. In 2007, she won Lebanon’s “Star Academy 4,” becoming the first female vocalist to win the Arab talent show aired via satellite to a massive Middle East audience.
Sources: Elaph / Al-Moatamar Al-Watani