The three finalists of the U.S. embassy-organised “Sing Egyptian Women” competition performed in a concert with six former American Idol semifinalists on Friday night at the Cairo Opera House. Competition winner Nathalie Alain, and runners up Maggie Fikry, and Malek El-Husseiny, along with the Idol finalists, played to a mixed Egyptian-foreign crowd of about two hundred strong.
The concert featured mostly solo performances of American pop songs, but the Egyptians and the Americans also took the stage together in several group performances.
The former Idol contestants are currently on a world tour covering Europe and the Middle East. Cairo is the first Arab country on the tour and the only stop that includes collaboration with local singers.
The “Sing Egyptian Women” competition was a U.S. embassy project for women’s empowerment. Ms. Alain, who won “Sing Egyptian Women”, last April, spoke about what she gained from this competition, “We got our voices heard,” she said “and we learned how to get exposure, how to perform, and many other skills that are important in everyday life, not just with singing.”
Ms. Alain viewed “Sing Egyptian Women”, and her blossoming singing career, as an opportunity to send a broader message, “One of the songs I chose was Footprints in the Sand, and it is a religious song. I felt like people were losing their faith,” she said. “I wanted to send a message that we will get through this together,” she added, in reference to the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath.
For their part, the American Idol finalists were excited to meet and perform with the finalists of the Egyptian competition. “Music people love music people,” said Rachel Zevita, who hails from New York City. She downplayed the notion that competitive tension exists between performers. “In the competition itself, the competitors are all friends,” she said.
The audience was receptive to each and every performer that took to the stage and welcomed them all as winners, even if no one, except Alain, had actually won any of the competitions they had participated in. The concert was good fun, the quality of the singing and performance was good and overall it was a nice way to spend a sultry Friday evening in town.
Ms. Alain will travel to New York this month in order to record a single, which was part of the prize of the competition. In the future she hopes to remain socially conscious and develop her musical career. “I want to start writing my own music,” she said, “and I want to be more active here in Egypt.”
The American Idol contestants will continue their world tour with an additional performance in Egypt in in Sharm El-Sheikh, before moving on to perform in several other countries.