By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 7/29/2005 | 6:50 pm
Wonderful voices and talented artists. That's what most Moroccans say about the finalists of Studio 2M. Seven candidates will compete on Saturday for the Singer of the Year 2005, of which four contest in the Arabic/Moroccan song category and three in the Western song.
Who will win on Saturday? How are the finalists preparing for their last prime-time show? Let's discover together the seven finalists, who are they, what have they learnt from Studio 2M, and how confident are they in attracting more audience votes...
There was a great ambiance in Studio 2M, when Morocco Times arrived to meet the seven finalists. Along with the jury, the candidates were having a 45 min pause to get ready for their rehearsal for the final prime-time show.
Mouna Roukachi, Sabrina El Ajib, Rizlaine Rhadi, Amal Ouzzani, Leila Gouchi, Sanaa Gouja, and Hatim Amor were all determined to hold the title of the singer of the year, but above all win the hearts of all Moroccans.
Moroccan renowned Oud player Haj Youness, who is an essential member of the jury, told Morocco Times that “this year, Studio 2M has chosen high quality singers, most of whom appeared professional on stage.”
“Most of the candidates were good, even those who were eliminated. I can say that they will have an outstanding artistic career. They just have to constantly increase exercises that might improve vocal and breathing problems, voice tone, pitch, articulation, and stage presence,” added Haj Youness.
Despite the friendly environment, the seven finalists couldn't hide their stage-fright and concern over the final prime-time show.
Do you want to know about the candidates?
Leila Gouchi, the charismatic
Leila Gouchi, candidate in the Arabic/Moroccan song category, expected to hold the title of the singer of the year according to public estimations, highlighted the importance of choosing the song contest, “because it plays a crucial role in one's selection.”
“When choosing a song, you should ensure that your voice works for the style of music you want to sing. You should also choose a song that makes the public interact with you,” said Leila.
“Now that we are competing for the last prime-time show which will be aired live on Saturday, you have to be very careful, because it is the public who will evaluate you this time, not the jury. Your chance to win depends on how many votes you get and to what extent you have touched the public with your performance,” she added.
Leila Gouchi, 27, is currently living in Canada and pursuing a degree in Tourism. She started singing at the age of seven and performed in many programmes dedicated to children, namely “Al Kanat Assaghira” (The small channel).
Leila has taken part in various contests and festivals. These include Noujoum Al Ghad in 1996, the Halifax Festival and the Festival of the Arab world in Canada. She has already recorded a CD in which she revived Arab classical songs. A great fan of cinema, Leila is also a snooker amateur.
Mouna Roukachi, the active
Mouna Roukachi is this year's surprise. Strong-voiced, active, dedicated, Mouna, a Swedish of Moroccan origin, is a goalkeeper and a Taekwondo champion in her native city Umea in Sweden. Only 19, Mouna has just got her A-Level. Her passion for singing makes her decide to participate in Studio 2M, but this wasn't her first start. Mouna is already famous in Sweden after her remarkable participation in a reality TV show “Pop Idol”.
Fan of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Beyonce, Mouna is a real star. She could be perfect in R'n'B, soul or even blues, let alone if she performed one of the Lumzy Sisters songs.
Today Mouna is called on to perform in festivals dedicated to raise funds to support AIDS patients.
Mouna has postponed the recording of her Album to participate in Studio 2M.
“It was a wonderful experience being here in Studio 2M and I am glad that I could be doing something here in Morocco, my native country,” Mouna told Morocco Times.
“I have learnt a lot from my teachers here, especially from Mrs Zoubida El Idrissi who taught me how to breathe, how to adjust my voice, diction, how to articulate...,” said Mouna.
Mouna is so impressed by Studio 2M and by the candidates' voice quality. “It is so amazing to see such young talented Moroccans singing and well articulating in Arabic, French and English. I have made good friends and I will never forget this experience,” added Mouna.
Rizlaine Rhadi, the stylish
Stylish and modest, the “Aretha Franklin du Maroc” Rizlaine Rhadi is fan of Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and Otis Redding. She is currently working as a waitress in a Paris restaurant.
Rizlaine has an 'electric' choice when it comes to selecting her songs. She could be a Jazz, Soul, Funk, Pop, or Rock singer. Alongside Mouna, she is also a strong candidate for this year's title.
Sabrina El Ajib, the soft-hearted
Soft-hearted and cute, French-Moroccan Sabrina El Ajib is a law student in France. Sensitive and proud of her origins, Sabrina is passionate for music. She is fan of French and Arab singers. Her idols are Mariah Carey and Lara Fabian.
Hatim Ammor, the perseverant
Perseverant, Hatim Ammor has decided to lead an artistic career. He started singing at the age of 11. After finishing his studies, Hatim decide to concentrate on music. He participated in a number of star-maker programmes including "Noujoum wa noujoum" in 2001, "Casting Stars" in 2003 and "Star Academy" Lebanon in 2004.
Proud of his achievements, Hatim is happy to be among the seven finalists in Studio 2M and ready to do his best to win the Studio 2M honourable title and above all win the respect and admiration of the audience.
Hatim was careful to choose unforgettable songs of renowned Moroccan and Arabic singers including Mohamed Abdelwahab, Abdelhadi Belkhayat and Fadl Chakir.
Amal Ouzzani, 'A spitting image of Naîma Samih'
At the age of 27, Amal Ouzzani is already a mother of twins, Noureddine and Salah-Eddine. She has already participated in musical shows. She was also a member of the theatrical group of Ahmed Tayeb Laâlej.
Passionate for music since her childhood, Amal hopes to achieve her dreams through studio 2M. She can perfectly perform her favourite idol singer Naîma Samih, but can easily take you to another style such as Oum Kalthoum, Asmahane, Najwa Karam and Diana Haddad.
Sanaa Gouja, a red flower from a magic city
She comes from Marrakech, one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world. Encouraged by her family and friends, she has decided to try again Studio 2M. Lucky this time, Sanaa is so happy to be among the finalists. Her idol is the Syrian singer, Assala Nasri. She used to participate in festivals, namely “Le Festival du Printemps” in Marrakech. To improve her musical skills, Sanaa is taking classes in “mouwachahates".
A flavour of artists to attend the final prime-time show
A number of Moroccan and foreign artists will attend the final prime-time show to share with the seven candidates their success. These include Abderrahim Souiri (Morocco), Latifa Raafat (Morocco), Slaï (Guadeloupe), Jean-Sébastien Lavoie (Canada), Willy Denzey (France), Mariam Fares (Lebanon), and the 2004 Studio 2M stars Joudia and Aziz.
Everybody is waiting for the final prime-time show. The candidates along with the Moroccan audience are eager to hear “And the winner is ...”. The seven finalists are doing their best to please Moroccans inside and outside the country. No matter who wins, they have already became stars.