By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 7/31/2005 | 4:20 pm
Could you believe Studio 2M's finalist Mouna Roukachi, who masters only English and Swedish, performed in Moroccan dialect? Well yes, she did. Her enthusiasm and eagerness to please the Moroccan audience motivated her to make double efforts to sing Moroccan.
This active, amusing and lively “little Donna Summer” is one of the three winners of Studio 2M Grand Prix. She, along with Hatim Amor, was chosen by the public to be this year's Studio 2M title holders (Mouna in Western Music and Hatim in Arabic/Moroccan music).
However, that was not the only title 2M had scheduled for this year. There was another prestigious award, the Jury Grand Prize which went to Leïla Gouchi who attracted the audience with her eminent and beautiful voice.
Leïla Gouchi, a prestigious singer
Everyone remembered how the Moroccan renowned Oud player Haj Youness, a jury member, was so enthusiastic after Leïla Gouchi's performance of her contest song “El Asami” by the late Tunisian singer Zekra.
“When I hear Leila singing, I just forget that I am a jury member, but one of the audience charmed by her beautiful voice,” said Haj Youness. Khaled Selim, a famous Egyptian singer, who attended one of Studio 2 M prime time-shows, was also 'bewitched' by Leila's voice.
On Saturday, Leila excelled in performing three songs: Zekra's “El Asami” (her contest song), Abdelwahab Doukali's “Marsoul El Hob' (Moroccan song out of competition), and Queen's famous song “We're the champions” (jointly performed with final candidates Rizlaine Rhadi and Mouna Roukachi, and Canadian singer Jean-Sébastien Lavoie).
Before Saturday's prime-time show, Leila told Morocco Times that “no matter what happened, she will accept the results of the competition, because it's the public who will have the last word”.
Gouchi highlighted, in a previous interview with Morocco Times, the importance of choosing the song contest, “because it plays a crucial role in one's selection,” she said.
“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.
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, 'little Donna Summer'
As expected, Mouna was awarded the Studio 2M prize for the Western music category. Most Moroccans predicted her success from the first time when she performed Michael Jackson's “The way you make me feel”
Now that she performed the 1983 'Hot Stuff” by the "Queen of Disco", Donna Summer, Mouna proved to be a real talented artist. Fan of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Beyonce, Mouna could be perfect in R'n'B, soul or even blues, let alone if she performed one of the Lumzy Sisters songs. The jury have even predicted Mouna could be a talented vocalist.
Despite her Moroccan-accented English, her love for Morocco motivated her to make much effort to pronounce Moroccan dialect correctly for her out of competition Moroccan song. And she appealed the millions of Moroccans who were watching her either at home or outside in the streets, where 2M had displayed big screens in 17 cities throughout Morocco.
Mouna Roukachi is the year's surprise, as many Moroccans called her. 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, postponing her own album. But this wasn't her first start. Mouna is already famous in Sweden after her remarkable participation in a reality TV show “Pop Idol”. Today Mouna is called on to perform in festivals dedicated to raise funds to support AIDS patients.
Hatim Ammor, the gentleman
After performing Mohammed El Hayani's “Ya Sidi Ana Hor”, Hatim Ammor has seduced the public with his charming voice. He was one of the strong candidates to win the Studio 2M title for the Arabic/Moroccan music category, competing with three ladies.
Perseverant, Hatim Ammor has decided to lead an artistic career. He started singing at the age of 11. After finishing his studies, Hatim decided 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.
Winning the Studio 2M award, Hatim is proud of his achievements. All along the prime-time shows, Hatim was careful to choose unforgettable songs of renowned Moroccan and Arabic singers including Mohamed Abdelwahab, Abdelhadi Belkhayat and Fadl Chakir.
On Saturday, he performed Wael Gassar's “Koli Yawm” (his contest song), but was more appealing in his out of competition song “Matakchi Biya” by prominent Moroccan singer Abdelhadi Belkhayat.
Artists and future stars
A number of Moroccan and foreign artists attended the final prime-time show and shared with the seven candidates their successes.
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.
2M takes audience to 1970s
2M surprised its audience on Saturday by taking them to the 1970s with the Euro-Disco group Boney M, who was a European phenomenon during the '70s. The group performed their successful song "Daddy Cool", whose sales increased to 100.000 singles each week in Germany in 1976.
"Daddy Cool" became Boney M's Number 1 in Germany in July 1976, and a Top-10-Hit in December of the same year in the UK.
They also performed their 1977 song, "Ma Baker", mixing it with their 1978, "Rivers of Babylon"/ "Brown Girl in the Ring", which became the second-biggest selling single in U.K. chart history.
Boney M was not the only surprise 2M prepared for its viewers. The show was also honoured by the presence of the outstanding Moroccan singer Raja Bil Maleeh. She made her first contact with the Moroccan audience in Saturday's prime-time show after a long absence from the artistic scene.
Bil Maleeh was struggling with breast cancer and was being treated in one of Paris hospitals. Now that she recovered, Bil Maleeh promised her audience new songs and new musical styles in different Arabic dialects. The Moroccan audience had the opportunity to hear live extracts from her new album “Hasib” (be careful).
The final candidates had performed duos with Moroccan singer Latifa Raafat, Canadian Jean-Sébastien Lavoie, and the 2004 Studio 2M star winners, Joudia and Aziz.