BEIRUT: After sharing the stage with the Lebanese icon Wadih El Safi when he was 11 years old, and touring with Fairouz as a backup singer and a soloist, George Nehme was determined to maintain Lebanon’s musical legacy and translate it into his career.
Nehme was raised by a family of musicians; his parents and eight siblings are talented singers. Due to his family’s connections, he was given opportunities that he lived up to.
“Singing with Wadih el Safi in front of more than 10,000 people was a dream, and sharing the stage with the enchanted songstress Fairouz made me feel the magical aura of her presence. I remember she was very organized and a hard worker; seeing her sing planted ambition in me,” he told Annahar.
Nehme was also recognized by Ziad Al Rahbani, and became the lead singer in many of his concerts. He also acted in the Rahbani Brothers' musical theater “Sah El Nom.”
But that wasn’t enough for Nehme to call himself an “artist.” To nourish his artistic knowledge, he studied music in the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and took advanced courses in Piano, Oud, oriental singing, music history and analysis, orchestration, harmony and solfège. He also received a Master’s degree in Cinema.
“Music is a form of education. Rahbani brothers weren’t just musicians, I believe they were politicians who drew the perfect image of a country through their music,” he said.
In 2008, Nehme formed a band and started singing in several clubs and festivals. It developed a fan base due to the unique and lively musical atmosphere it created.
“What is so alluring about Nehme is that he combines a distinctive voice, a cheerful attitude, and an elegant appearance in his performances. When he takes the stage, the energy he transmits to the audience is insane!” Maya Frem, who has never missed any of his concerts, told Annahar.
Nehme indicated that it is essential for singers to know how to direct the energy he receives from the crowd. “They should forget everything else and live the moment. Besides, they should realize that their voice is one of the instruments, and work on blending it with the whole band. It is never a solo show; it’s teamwork.”
In 2013, Nehme became a member of the “OK World,” a group of internationally recognized musicians from different cultures. They released an album and toured in Europe performing in several festivals such as: the “Oslo World Music Festival” in Norway and “La Mar de Musicas” in Spain.
“It was an experimental stage for me. They would play a certain musical pattern and I had to improvise. It helped me discover myself and mold my own identity,” he said.
Using his rich musical experience and acquired education, Nehme released several songs including: “Ya Tafida”, composed by Ziad Boutros and written by Nabil Abou Abdo; “Btetzakari,” written and composed by Nehme and “Ya Ghaym”, written by Georges Khabbaz and composed by Nehme and his brother Elie.
However, Nehme reached a point where he was discouraged by the musical scene in Lebanon.
“There was a point in my career where I felt devastated due to the release of songs that disrespect our musical inheritance. It was then that I knew that I was part of the minority; but it’s the minority that can make a change,” he said.
Aiming to make a change this year, he released his latest single “Shou 3melti,” which has become the favorite song of many of his fans. It is a bright song that can have a sad or a happy mood depending on one’s perspective.
He received the Murex D’or for the best Lebanese new male singer this year. However, it’s never the end for Nehme. He’s still thriving for more.
“The crowd’s reaction when they see me on stage gives me ultimate pleasure, still, an artist is never satisfied,” he told Annahar.
Annahar's "Faces of Lebanon" is an occasional series that takes a look at talented young Lebanese. We encourage you nominating candidates and telling us their story. Send your nominations to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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