By: Sahar Mourad
Anoujoum, Australia’s largest English/Arabic magazine hosted its first ‘ever’ Najm Anoujoum 2016 Competition. The event saw 10 finalists go up against each other in front of a crowd of 700+ people. Sahar Mourad caught up with winner, Damien Haifa, to find out what his next steps are.
Sahar: How does it feel to be the winner of the first ever Najm Anoujoum 2016 competition?
Damien: I am honoured and take great pride in taking home the winning trophy of Najm Anoujoum 2016 competition. I am glad that all my hard work and devotion has paid off and now my talents have been officially recognised by a wide range of audience and highly educated officials.
Sahar: Going up against nine other finalists must have been nerve wracking, how did you deal with this?
Damien: I went into this competition with an open mind and a strong belief that I have what it takes to become Najm Anoujoum 2016. I was always open and willing to accept feedback and criticism whether it was good or bad and most importantly accept it and work on myself. I was confident and convinced that what I was about to offer the judges and the audience was the best I had. All the contestants were amazing and had very strong aspects to their performances.
Sahar: What do you think about when you’re performing?
Damien: When I am performing I become a totally different person, personally I am very shy and find it very intimidating and difficult to talk in public. But when I am performing and I am in the spot light the world before me becomes clear and I feel that I am on top of the world as the music and excitement takes over my emotions. All my thoughts are about how I should engage with my audience and express all the vibes and energy in a mature and respectful manner.
Sahar: How did you decide on the song you performed during the competition?
Damien: I like to sing songs of different styles and genres. The song that I decided to sing during the competition was a combination between both dialects of Lebanese (Ya Merayti – By Elissa) and Egyptian (Awel Marra – By Abdel Halim Hafaez) from completely different eras. I felt that since I had sang very complex songs during my auditions I had to make sure that the two final songs were of a higher standard and worked together well to capture the attention of the judges and audience.
Sahar: What can we expect from you now that you are able to pursue your dream as a professional singer?
Damien: It has always been my dream and passion to be recognised as professional singer. The team at Anoujoum Magazine have played a big role in helping me pursue this. First of all I have been exposed to take part in televisions shows, radio interviews and other forms of publicity. I believe you are not a winner just because you have won a trophy, but it consists of being persistent and being able to offer the best you have to your audience.
Sahar: Can we expect some English songs from you as well?
Damien: I love all types of music from all cultures and nationalities. Yes of course I’ll love to sing some English and I may also do some English/Arabic fusions and incorporate them together in a smooth yet stylish way.
Sahar: What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite artists?
Damien: I like to listen to all styles of music, but I mainly enjoy listening to artists like Najwa Karam, Melhem Barakat, Fares Karam, Wael Kfoury, Elissa and Ayman Zbib.
Sahar: There is that one song we always have to sing along to when we hear it, what is that song for you?
3ala Babi Wa2ef Amaren – By the Maestro Melhem Barakat
Sahar: What advice do you have for those who are hoping to make it big?
Damien: Life is full of ups and downs and there are always those who try to put you down. But thankfully we can be revived with our strong faith in God and also the amazing people around us that give us hope, courage and work with us to achieve our dreams and goals. The main point is to never give up because there is always a bright light waiting for you at the end of that dark tunnel. So be yourself and enjoy every minute of what life has to offer you.