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Nancy Nabil Ajram ( ) (born May 16, 1983) is a multi-platinum Lebanese singer and Goodwill Ambassador for the UNICEF . By 2007, Ajram had sold over 30 million records ranking 3rd best selling female artist in Lebanese history. She has released seven studio albums to date and appeared in numerous music videos and commercials. She participated in the most significant Arabic festivals and won multiple awards, most importantly the 2008 World Music Award of best-selling Middle Eastern artist, the youngest Arab WMA winner to date. Nancy Ajram is the first and only female sponsor and spokesperson of Coca-Cola in the Middle East and Arab world. Considered by many as an Arabic music icon of the decade, Nancy was described on the Oprah Winfrey Show as one of the most influential personalities of the Middle East.

Early life and beginnings

Ajram was born to Nabil Ajram and Rimonda Oun on May 16, 1983 in Achrafiehmarker, a district of East Beirutmarker Lebanonmarker.

In 1995, at the age of twelve, Nancy Ajram took part in the entertainment show, Noujoum Al-Moustakbal, ("Stars of the Future"), a Lebanese television musical competition, winning a gold medal in the Tarab category after singing a song by Umm Kulthum.

Ajram studied music following her early success with renowned Lebanese musicians and although she was less than 18 years old, the syndicate of professional artists in Lebanon accepted her as a member. Her first songs were titled "Hobbak Allam Albi elGheere" by Abdo Mounzer, and "Oulha Kelma Ala Shani". At the age of 15, she released her first album, Mihtagalak ("I Need You') in 1998, with most of its songs holding a pure Tarab style. It was followed by Sheel Oyoonak Anni ("Take Your Eyes Off Of Me") in 2000, which achieved more success.

Fame and stardom

2002-2004: Akhasmak Ah

Ajram then began working with Jiji Lamara, an experienced producer and manager. In early 2003, her third album, Ya Salam ("How Beautiful") was an instant smash hit and became her most successful album so far, driven by the tremendous success and popularity of the song Akhasmak Ah ("I'll taunt you") and by its then-controversial music video. Reminiscent of older Arabic films, Nancy appeared as a cafe manager who dances and flirts with its customers. The release of the next music videos, "Ya Salam" & "Sehr Ouyouno" quieted down criticism as Nancy proved her vocal abilities through these singles.

2004-2006:Ah w Noss, Coca-Cola

Her fourth album, Ah w Noss ("Yes, and a half"), was released on April 12, 2004, and was also an important marking point in Nancy's career. The tremendous success "Ah w Noss" achieved stabilized Nancy's position as an A-level star in the Arab music industry. Nancy then filmed "Lawn Ouyounak" (The Color of Your Eyes) which portrayed Nancy as a bride in a traditional Lebanese wedding, and since then that song became a favourite at weddings. Negotiations between leading soft-drink company Coca-Cola and Nancy Ajram started that period and towards the beginning of 2005, Nancy Ajram became Coca-Cola's star and official celebrity sponsor and spokesperson for the Western Asia and North Africa. Her first Coke commercial was for her hit "Oul Tany Kida" (Say That Again?) which was filmed with the international Italian director Luca Tomassini. The commercial's success lead to its filming as a music video behind the scenes of the commercial. The 4th hit single from the album, "Inta Eih" (What Are You?), was a slow drama song by Samir Sfeir. Nadine Labaki successfully created a drama that portrayed Nancy in a much mature and different image, as she appeared as a wife who sees her husband cheating on her and hides this to save her relationship. The music video received tremendous positive reviews and Nancy was greatly praised. Leading Egyptian actors and directors, like Faten Hamama praised Nancy's acting abilities and movie offers doubled for Nancy. Nancy performed in Enrique Iglesias's first concert in Egypt in 2004.

2006-2008:Ya Tabtab Wa Dalla, Shakhbat, El Donya Helwa

Her fifth album, Ya Tabtab Wa Dallaa was released on February 15, 2006. Atabtab was considered Nancy's best album to date, with six music videos released, eight radio hits, and five songs used for commercials.

The title song's video was Nancy's last video directed by Nadine Labaki, as she then started working on her movie Caramel. Nancy then released the video of her Coca-Cola hit "Moegaba" (Admirer), as well as a video and commercial for her newly signed Damas Jewelry contract advertising their "Farfasha" set. The song used was Ana Yalli which was promoted before the album's release. Nancy then cooperated for the first time with prominent Lebanese director Said el Marouk, filming "Ehsas Jdeed" (A New Feeling) which is widely considered to be the most successful song of the album. The video, which was a salute from Said to his deaf and mute parents, depicted the story of a rich woman who falls in love with a deaf and mute man. Later in 2007, Nancy released all together the video of "Elli Kan" (All That Was) for Damas's second campaign, her Coca-Cola Side of Life commercial featuring a new single "El Donya Helwa" (Life is Beautiful), and a video and album directed towards children, titled Shakhbat Shakhabit (Scribbled Scribbles). "El Donya Helwa", Nancy's 7th commercial, is considered one of her most successful commercials representing her style and Coca-Cola's with colors, happiness, and music, and it led her to release a Live album featuring the single.

Ajram's sixth album was fully dedicated to children with a variety of songs aimed towards teaching children good values and morals, something she has wanted to do for a long time. The music video was her second cooperation with Said El Marouk after "Ehsas Jdeed" and featured four songs from her album: Shakhbat Shakhabit, Katkouta, Shater, and Eid Milad at the credits. Nancy performed these songs at several fund-raising events for children and other children's events. She then filmed with Fadi Haddad, the director of photography of her previous works with ElMarouk, a video for the song "Resala Ilal Aalam" (A Message to the World) which talks about world peace. The video was released on May 25, 2008, the day the Lebanese president General Michel Suleiman was elected ending a deadlock that lasted since November. It was the first video for Nancy that had an entirely graphical world that implied the suffering of children worldwide and the need to bring out a more colorful and happy world for them, like the one in the video. Old rumors claimed that the video will be presented to the UNICEF. In 2007, Nancy performed alongside Lionel Richie in Egypt at a launching event.

2008–present: Betfakkar Fi Eih, WMA

In February and March 2008, Nancy released three Coca-Cola commercials that featured a brand new hit from her long awaited album. The song, "Meen Gheyri Ana (Noss elKawn)" (Who Else?) was made by the successful Yey and Ana Yalli trio (Nizar Francis, Samir Sfeir, and Tarek Madkour). The song and commercials served as a highly successful promotion 5 months before the album's release.Nancy released her seventh studio album after several delays on July 30 2008, which has been highly anticipated by fans for almost three years. This long awaited comeback album held lots of surprises for her fans with a huge change in her style that presented her matured vocal abilities like never before. Nancy's 7th album, Betfakkar Fi Eih?!, is considered to be one of her most successful albums so far as it won her first World Music Award in her career.The album included her first "Tarab" song called "Biteegy Sirtak" since 1998's Mihtagalak album, and in general had a wide mix of several different styles ranging from dance, beat, pop, to drama, romance, Tarab and oldies.Even though the hit video had mixed opinions, the second video of "Min Dally Nseek" was much more accepted, peaking at #1 for seven consecutive weeks in Melody Hits . The same musical trio who created "Ehsas Jdeed" did one of the instant radio-hits of the album, "Lamset Eed" (Touch of a Hand), which was filmed with Leila Kenaan with a high budget, and the song and music video peaked charts for months. Nancy announced that she will be filming around 8 to 10 songs from the album as requests for music videos for the songs were on the rise. With this album Nancy signed a celebrity endorsement deal with Sony Ericsson, as a special w595 phone was released holding Nancy's signature, and Wana Ben Idek was chosen as the commercial song.

On November 9, 2008, about a month after her marriage, Nancy Ajram won her first World Music Award for her best-selling album Betfakkar Fi Eih. In her short speech, Nancy thanked her parents, Jiji Lamara, her fans and album makers, and husband, saying "2008 has been a fantastic year - a successful album, my wedding, and now a World Music Award, what can I ask for more?"

On September 28, 2009, the Oprah Winfrey Show aired an episode titled "Fame Around the World" that talked about the most famous celebrities around the globe in brief reports. Representing the Middle East region & Arab world, Nancy Ajram appeared in a report featured on the show and was described by Oprah as "the Britney Spears of the Middle East". Nancy Ajram is the first and only Arabic artist ever mentioned on the show.

Marriage and motherhood

In September 2008, Nancy married Dr. Fadi Hachem after a three-year relationship; the wedding was attended mainly by close friends and family. Nancy continued her work during pregnancy, during which she had filmed "Lamset Eed" and her first Sony Ericsson commercial, participated in several concerts such as Layali Febrayer, and received her WMA. On May 16, 2009, Nancy gave birth to her first baby daughter named "Mila", who shares her birthday. Short for Milagrosa (miraculous in Spanish), Mila is also an old Arabic name widespread in rural Lebanon meaning a "blooming tree". However, Nancy revealed that the name was Fadi's choice inspired from Ukrainia-born US actress Mila Jovovic. Nancy released her song for her daughter "Ya Rab Tekbar Mila" (I Pray That Mila Grows Up) on the same day. In a survey done by Rotana Magazine, Nancy was voted as the "Most Beautiful Mom" of 2009.

Awards and titles

1995 Nojoom Al Mustaqbal Golden Award - (Nancy's most significant pre-stardom award)

2003, 2005, 2007 Murex D'or Award - Best Female Lebanese Singer of the year, Beirut

2003, 2006 Murex D'or Award - Best Video of the Year, Beirut.(2003: Ya Salam - Nadine Labaki, 2006: Ehsas Jdeed - Said elMarouk)

2003 The Golden Lion Award Egypt

2003, 2007 LG Music Award

2003, 2005 Zahrat elKhaleej Magazine - Best Female Arab Singer, Dubai

2004 Zahrat elKhaleej - Best Music Video of the Year, Dubai

2004 Arabian Music Awards - Best Female Arab Singer of the year, Dubai

2005 Newsweek - Most Influential Arab Personalities, Kuwait

2005 - Honor from the Opera House of Egypt

2007 Certificate from the Pope of Rome'

2007 Middle East Music Awards (Mobinil) - Best Female Arab Singer of the year, Cairo

2007, 2009 Arabian Business - World's Most Influential Arabs, Most Influential Contemporary Female Singer in 2007 , Most Powerful Arab Singers

2007 Kol elArab Survey - Best Arabic Star of the year 2007

2008 9th Annual Doha Festival - Honor Award, Doha

2008 World Music Award - World's Best-Selling Middle-Eastern Artist, 20th Annual WMA, Monaco

2008 Student Choice Award - [College Student Survey]: Best Album of the Year 2008, Beirut

2008 AlJumhuriya Newspaper, Freedom Magazine - Best Female Arab Star of 2008, Egypt

2009 Regional Ambassador for the UNICEF in the Middle East & North Africa

Discography

Studio albums



Other albums



DVDs and live albums

  • 2004: Live at the Jarash Festival [DVD] - MegaStar
  • 2005: Ma La Ta'arifunahu 3an Nancy Ajram [DVD] - MBC
  • 2006: Ah w Noss: Collector's Edition [CD and DVD] - MegaStar
  • 2006: Ya Salam: Collector's Edition [CD and DVD] - MegaStar
  • 2007: Shakhbat Shakhabit [DVD]
  • 2007: ElDonya Helwa - Live [Live CD]
  • 2008: The Best of Nancy Clips [DVD]
  • 2008: Greatest Hits [Compilation CD] - EMI
  • 2009: Awwel Marra [Old Live Songs CD] - Artline Music


Non-album singles

Nancy released several songs dedicated to special countries in the Arab world, starting with "Kuwait alShahama" in 2005. In early 2006, she released a single, "Ana Masry" ("I am Egyptian"), timed to coincide with Egypt's hosting and winning of the African Cup of Nations football tournament, taking it by storm. Its video showed Egyptians representing the diversity of the country lip-sync the patriotic lyrics of the song. Nancy also released a song for the rival Egyptian soccer teams "Ahly and Zamalek", being the first to do so after Sabah. Nancy released a sensual song for Lebanon called "Habib elOmr" composed by Ziad Boutrous, which preceded the 2006 Lebanese war. After the 2007 "Nahr el Bared" war, Nancy dedicated a song composed by Samir Sfeir to the Lebanese Army, called "Khalleek Bwejj elGhadab".

  • 2005 "Kuwait Al Shahama"
  • 2005 "Ana Masry"
  • 2005 "Agbal"
  • 2006 "Ahli w Zamalek"
  • 2006 "Habib el Omr"
  • 2007 "Bwejj el Ghadab"
  • 2007 "El Dunya Helwa" (featured in the Live album only)
  • 2009 "Ya Rab Tikbar Mila"
  • 2009 "Efta7 Albak Tefra7"
  • 2010 "Masr elArousa"


Soundtracks

Ramadan 2009: Ibn elArandaly
  • Intro: "Ya Ibn el Arandaly"
  • Outro: "Kol elHekaya"


Group works

  • 2003 Il7a2ni (Follow Me) for the Lebanese Marathon, featuring Haifa Wehbe, Dina Hayek, Joe Ashkar, and Yuri Mrakadi.
  • 2005 La Ma Khelset El Hekaya (It's Not Over) after the assassination of late president Rafiq elHariri, featuring Nawal elZoghbi, Haifa Wehbe, Wael Kfoury, Sabah, Maya Nasri, and many others.
  • 2008 ElDhameer el 3arabi (The Arab Conscience) the sequel to the well-known "elHelm al3arabi" along with more than 100 artists including Wadih elSafi, Assala, Latifa, and Cheb Khaled.


Global Coke Slogans

Coca-Cola Middle East have always incorporated International Coke slogans into pan-Arab campaigns with Nancy. In 2007, Coca-Cola released their international trademark campaign of their popular slogan "The Coke Side of Life", which focused on themes such as fun, happiness, colors, and life. A collaboration with Nancy Ajram lead to the making of the song "El Donya Helwa" (The World is Beautiful) for which a commercial was filmed with an American director on international standards and hi-tech effects. Nancy insisted on filming in Lebanon which had been hit by war a while back. "El Donya Helwa" is considered Coca-Cola Middle East's and Nancy Ajram's most successful commercial to date; the single became one of Ajram's most successful songs, leading to its release as a single track in a "Live" album with live performances from her last studio album Atabtab. In 2009, as the campaign was sequeled internationally with "Open Happiness", Coke Middle East and Nancy released "Eftah Albak Tefrah". However, due to Nancy's pregnancy and giving birth, she was unable to participate in the print or TV campaigns that year and the song was used on the International commercial instead. A website was launched for that campaign entitled "Eftah Tefrah".

Videography

Official music videos

Official Music Videos
Year Title Album Director
1998 "Mihtagalak" Mihtagalak Elie Fghaly
2001 "Sheel Ouyounak Anni" Sheel Ouyounak Anni Guy Zahlan
2002 "Akhasmak Ah" Ya Salam... Nadine Labaki
2003 "Ya Salam"
"Sehr Oyouno" (Yey)
2004 "Ah w Noss" "Ah w Noss"
"Lawn Ouyounak"
2005 "Oul Tany Kida" Luca Tommassini
"Inta Eih" Nadine Labaki
2006 "Ya Tabtab Wa Dalla" Ya Tabtab..Wa Dallaa
"Moegaba" Harry Rankin, Mike Lipscombe
"Ana Yalli" Pascale D'Ash
"Ehsas Jdeed" Said elMarouk
2007 "Elli Kan" Diamantino Ferreira
"Mishtaga Leik" Mirna Khayyat
"Shakhbat Shakhabit" (ft. Katkouta, Shater, Eid Milad) Shakhbat Shakhabit

[Children's Album]
Said elMarouk
2008 "Risala Ilal Aalam" Fadi Haddad
"Betfakkar Fi Eih" Betfakkar Fi Eih?! Said elMarouk
"Min Dally Nseek"
2009 "Lamset Eed" Leila Kanaan
"Ibn elGiran" Mike Harris
"Mashi Haddi" Leila Kanaan
"Meen Ghairy Ana?" Yehya Saade


Commercials

Ajram's success as a singer led to high-profile advertising deals with Coca-Cola and Sony Ericsson and Damas Jewelry. Nancy remained the only Arab star promoting Coke until late 2007 when Egyptian sensations Mohammed Hamaki and Tamer Hosni joined in as well, as she still remains the only female. Coca-Cola and Nancy formed a great team since five years making commercials and music videos that stood out in the Arab world, synchronising local campaigns with worldwide slogans.

Coca-Cola

Nancy in the Coca-Cola "Circus" Campaign, 2006


Middle East Coke Campaigns
Year Coke Hit Theme # of Ads Campaign
2005 Oul Tany Kida Concert 3 TV,MV,print
Instrumental: Lawn Ouyounak Tickle, Munroe, Wink 3 TV,print
2006 Moegaba Circus 1 TV,MV,print
Ashtiki Minno Coke Bottle 1 TV
2007 ElDonya Helwa The Coke Side of Life 1 TV,print
- Have a Coke - print only
2008 Meen Ghayri Ana? Noss elKawn Live on the Coke Side of Life 3 TV,MV,print
2009 Eftah Albak Tefrah Open Happiness - print


DAMAS and World Gold Council

DAMAS's youth-inspired set called "Farfasha", which are gold collections from the World Gold Council said to be chosen by Nancy herself, was promoted by her in three different campaigns. Each campaign had a new collection for the set and a song, commercial, and music video:

2006 Ana Yalli ("I'm The One") from Atabtab

2007 Elli Kan ("All That Was") from Atabtab

2008 Ibn el Giran ("The Neighbor's Son) from Bitfakar Fi Eih

2009

Sony Ericsson

A survey by Sony Ericsson where Nancy was named the most popular Arab star led them into signing a deal with her as their celebrity spokesperson. The company co-sponsored the release of her best-selling album Bitfakkar Fi Eih. In Febrauary 2009 the W595i phone was officially released with a Nancy special edition kit that held her signature on the back of the phone, a free copy of her album and ringtones of her songs. This was accompanied by print advertising, a press conference in Dubai, as well as a commercial that featured Nancy in March 2009:

2009 Wana Ben Idek ("In Your Arms") from Betfakkar Fi Eih

Charity and social works

Nancy has participated in numerous charity events and concerts that she considers a priority in her music career. In the year 2006, Nancy opened an organization under the name "Jam'iyet Nancy Ajram Al-Khayria" (Nancy Ajram's Charity Organization) in Beirut, Lebanon, that works on collecting and distribubing money for the poor.Nancy also released a song about peace "Resala Ilal Aalam" (A Message to the World) in her children's album as a music video, which was rumored to be presented to the Unicef. Ajram also participated amongst over a 100 other prominent Arab artists in a huge production called "ElDhameer elArabi", a 10-year sequel to "AlHelm Al Arabi" that outlines the major political events in the Arab world in the past 10 years.

In June 2008, Nancy participated in The Big Ball, a charity event in Dubai which raised over Dhs 940,000 for helping underprivileged children by auctioning one of her favourite dresses and encouraging children's fund raising events; she announced, "The Big Ball is doing a wonderful thing and I'm happy to support it. I'm coming for my love of children and because I want to help underprivileged children find a happy place in this world. Children inspired my latest album "Shakhbat Shakhabit" and especially the song "Resala lel3alam" (A Message to the World)."Ajram, however, continues to refuse announcing her other charitable projects to the public.

Criticism and controversy

  • Many rumors of boycotts against Ajram's concerts filled the internet, although none appeared to be true.


  • In October 2003, a riot broke out outside a concert by Ajram in Bahrainmarker. Islamists from the country's main opposition parties, including Al Wefaq, attacked concert goers. Al Wefaq's leaders defended the action, as it was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In May 2006, Ajram returned to perform in Bahrainmarker without any incidents.


  • On her official website, Nancy Ajram has apologized for anti-Iranian remarks falsely attributed to her on a website posing as her homepage.


  • Nancy Ajram has expressed extreme anger towards recent circulating rumors in Egypt regarding the spread of nude photos of her on mobile phones. A large number of youths around Egypt and around the Arab world have been spreading nude photos of the singer supposedly taken at a women's spa for a full body wax. Nancy, however, denies the spa visit and claims such photos are fake.


  • Melissa Corken, the World Music Award representative defended the award, threatening to sue whoever claims it is bought by its recent Arab winners (Nancy Ajram, Elissa, and Amr Diab), and scandaled several Arab singers and major production company Rotana, claiming they attempted to purchase it. This came as a response to the riot caused by fans of Elissa who had a competing album for the award; however Corken shut the fuss down by announcing Ajram's album sold more; Rotana, with whom Elissa has a record label, claimed that they did not send any sales numbers internationally , showing no clear reason for that.


References

  1. UNICEF appoints singer Nancy Ajram as Regional Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa (accessed Oct.23,2009)
  2. http://www.arabianbusiness.com/power100/profile/996?clr=2 Nancy Ajram - Power 100, (accessed July 8th, 2009)
  3. The Most Powerful Arab Singers, Arabian Business, 2007, (accessed December 2008)
  4. "نانسي في حلقة أوبرا عن مشاهير العالم", (accessed Oct.13,2009)
  5. www.melodyhits.tv
  6. http://www.mbc.net/portal/site/mbc/menuitem.ff2c047b71869fec9318c4cd480210a0/?vgnextoid=f9dbb32adc351210VgnVCM1000008420010aRCRD&vgnextchannel=4e9ee30e61801110VgnVCM100000f1010a0aRCRD&vgnextfmt=mbcArticle
  7. نانسي عجرم أجمل أم في 2009 (Accessed Sep. 19th, 2009)
  8. http://adserver.naharnet.com/pub/murex/Murex2004.htm
  9. Mobinil Music Awards - Nancy Ajram Best Arab Female 2007, (accessed June.27th, 2009)
  10. http://www.arabianbusiness.com/power100/2009 Arabian Business Power 100, 2009, (accessed April 12th)
  11. http://www.arabianbusiness.com//power100/list.php Arabian Business
  12. نانسي عجرم نجمة العام 2007, Elaph, Dec. 28, 2007, (accessed Jan.9,2009)
  13. www.worldmusicawards
  14. 2009 تكريم النجوم, Elaph, Jan. 20, 2009, (accessed Jan. 28,2009)
  15. احتفالية حب في عيد ميلاد "الجمهورية" و"حريتي" (accessed June 27th, 2009)
  16. The Big Ball raises over Dhs940,000 for the benefit of underpriviledged children across the region, AME Info, October 28, 2008
  17. Nancy Ajram to attend The Big Ball as it aims to raise $250,000 for the education of underprivileged Arabian Business, May 8, 2008
  18. Arab Pop Video: "Weapon of Singing Destruction"?, Associated Press, October 23, 2003.Retrieved November 23, 2006
  19. Arab Pop Video: "Weapon of Singing Destruction"?, Associated Press, October 23, 2003. Retrieved November 23, 2006
  20. RadioJavan.com - News - "Nancy Ajram Apologized For Fake Message"
  21. Nancy Ajram Official website - Response contained under "News" section
  22. Nancyajram.com Retrieved on July 1 2007
  23. albawaba.com Middle East news information::Nancy Ajram innocent of posing in the nude
  24. Elaph, Nov.10,2008
  25. Elaph Nov. 11, 2008


Further reading



External links




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