ABU DHABI // Jay Sean, the Asian R&B artist, was a hit in the capital this week, singing to a sell-out crowd at the Embassy nightclub at the Emirates Palace hotel. The British-born Indian singer is promoting his second album My Own Way and the single Ride It, one of the 10 most-played singles on UAE radio. "There's such a big Indian community here, which is nice to come and perform for, but I get so much love from the people in this country," said Sean, 27, who has been to the UAE before but was visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time.
"It's not just the women, the men really have a lot of love to give too. They aren't like the male fans in Britain, they actually come up to you and tell you they like you and really mean it." Sean said he was surprised by the number of people from Dubai who have contacted him through the social networking websites MySpace and Facebook. "I never expected it would be like that," he said. "You never expect success anywhere but here, I really didn't expect it."
The singer, who released his first album in 2004, said there were big differences between the capital and Dubai, a place he dubs the UAE's version of Las Vegas. "I love Abu Dhabi," he said, after completing a sound check at the nightclub on Wednesday night. "It's got a nice vibe, much more the sort of place I could live than Dubai. "Dubai's great, though. I love Wild Wadi water park and doing the desert safaris. It's such a cool place out here, but it's too hot for me."
Sean won two gongs at the UK Asian Music Awards this year, winning Best Urban act and Best Video for the single Ride It. He has a large fan base in India, where his first album, Me Against Myself, went multi-platinum. He also made a brief appearance in the Bollywood movie Kya Kool Hai Hum and contributed the song Dil Mera for the soundtrack. Sean attributes his success in the country to his music's strong Indian influences, blending Desi beats with R&B and taking traditional instruments like the Dhol, a kind of drum, to create modern sounds.
"I grew up listening to a lot of Hindi songs, which are very melodic, and I've always wanted my music to be like that," said the artist, who was born Kamaljit Singh Jhooti. Sean added that he hoped to work with some of his favourite Indian artists, Sonu Nigam and Adnan Sami, when he travelled to the country later this year. He has also recorded an Indian album, which will be released around September, with a Hindi remix of Ride It.
"I can't wait to do the Indian and South Asian tour," he said. "I have such a huge fan base there, which is very special to me, and India is important to me of course because it's my roots." Sean studied medicine at the Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, but dropped out after two years to pursue a singing career when Virgin records offered him a £1 million (Dh7m) contract. His parents, both born in India, supported him. "My parents aren't very conventional," Sean said. "They grew up in London, so they just wanted me to choose a career that would make me happy.
"It was something I'd always wanted to do and I was given an opportunity that was too good to walk away from; it was my dream. "We still hold very traditional Indian values and morals though, which is an important part of our lives." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org