Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 January 2020

For YouTube sensation Noel Kharman, success is a child’s play

Meet the Palestinian singer Noel Kharman who became a singing sensation overnight.
Noel Kharman has confirmed that another mash-up is in the works. Photo by Mishel Khoury
Noel Kharman has confirmed that another mash-up is in the works. Photo by Mishel Khoury

When 17-year-old Palestinian student Noel Kharman went to bed on November 5, she had no idea what was in store when she awoke.

Without her knowledge, her proud mother Areen uploaded a video of her singing a mash-up of Adele’s hit Hello and the legendary Fairouz song Kifak Inta to YouTube.

By morning, social-networking sites had gone mad sharing the soulful song and praising it for blending the old with the new, and East with West.

Areen woke up her daughter to tell her of her overnight success – she reacted like most teenagers would: “I didn’t fully understand it,” Noel says. “So I went back to sleep again.

“But then when I woke up properly and saw the number of views myself, I was shocked. I never expected the numbers to be that high.”

Five days later, and the hits had reached 1.5 million. Another week and it was 2.5 million. Today, it has reached almost 3.3 million. “Fairouz is my role model. I adore her songs, and I’m honoured to sing them,” she says. “I would like a new mash-up to be one of her songs.”

Noel explains how she collaborated with Danish-Palestinian musician Philip Halloun, who arranged the piece, then shot and produced the video. “I felt the lyrics and melodies of both songs suit each other,” Noel says. “Honestly, I adore the songs and voice of Fairuz as well as Adele’s voice and performance, so I wanted to make the mash-up.”

Noel has worked with Halloun on other tracks, including a cover of Sam Smith’s James Bond theme song Writing’s on the Wall (which had gained more than 260,000 hits at the time of press) and Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams (more than 216,000 hits).

Like with many other viral videos, this one was shot “very quickly” she said. “We didn’t face any difficulties, and we thank Allah that it received such positive reviews”.

It’s easy to see why the mash-up has received so much acclaim in such a short space of time – the arrangement takes the best parts of both songs, blending them skilfully. Despite being sung in two languages, the songs are also coincidentally both about love.

Singing since the age of 7, Kharman found her first audience at home – her family. She then progressed to lending her vocal talents to school parties, festivals and even won a few competitions. She then decided to self-study occidental and oriental music to widen her knowledge of the art form.

Kharman says the instant viral fame hasn’t changed her perspective on life. “I’ve always loved singing just as a hobby, and I never thought about recording the song for profit,” she said. “Music and singing are an integral part of my personality, and art is my whole life, regardless of profit.”

Kharman confirms that another mash-up is in the works, but she is keeping it under wraps for now. “Inshallah it will hopefully [receive] the same level of admiration.” She does aspire to record some of her own songs in the near future – watch this space.


Updated: November 28, 2015 04:00 AM