Lebanese singer Xriss Jor impresses Quincy Jones at Dubai Music Week
The unsigned singer Xriss Jor walked away last night with a once-in-a-life time opportunity of having the legendary Quincy Jones produce her debut single. The Lebanese performer achieved the feat after wowing an esteemed judging panel comprising Jones, the Black Eyes Peas' will.i.am and the hit-maker Timbaland at the The Dubai World Trade Centre.
Jor, who took part in last year's inaugural Arabic version of The Voice, made an impression on the judges courtesy of her sublime cover of Beyoncé's Listen.
"Now that's what I call in the pocket," beamed Jones. "This girl is a star, that was simply awesome."
The frequent Beyoncé collaborator Timbaland credited Jor's bravery on stage. "As soon as she walked on stage you can tell she knew what she wanted to do," he said.
"Also for her to sing something by Beyoncé, who I consider to be the best singer in the world right now, and to do it in front of me, that's just great."
Jor squared off against four other UAE-based artists: the Emirati soul man Hamdan Al Abri, the pop-singer DD Foxx, the singer and songwriter Nile and the rocker Jay Wud.
The artists were invited to take part in this exclusive showcase after being nominated by executives from Sony, Universal Music and A&R. Al Abri had arguably the biggest support from the crowd and the panel responded well to his performance of the self-written track Falling.
"Our man tore it up," commented Jones.
Will.i.am, no stranger to judging talent courtesy of his current role as mentor on The Voice UK, praised Al Abri's stage presence.
"You can tell a lot about someone's confidence by the way they show up on stage," he stated.
"He had that, he knew he owned this place and this was his zone. I enjoyed that."
Nile's acoustic take of his RnB tune Tippy Toes is a testament to the global influence of American music, commented will.i.am.
"Now I know he is from Sudan," he remarked. "But if I close my eyes I would think he is from Chicago, Philadelphia or Los Angeles."
The showcase came as part of Producers Panel; the first half of which saw Jones, Will.i.am and Timbaland discuss the trials and tribulations of crafting hit records.
Timbaland explained a producer is an all encompassing affair. "You have to be everything for the artist," he explained.
"A great artist would not be where they are without a great producer. You have to help them with how the song should sound. The song is the producer's art work and you have to get the right artist to work on their canvass."
Will.i.am admitted to being a "control freak" in the studio. "I like to hear the song the way it sounds in my head," he said.
"Technology allowed me to be a producer. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't be able to do what I am doing today."
Jones summed up the role of the producer best.
The 80-year-old, who helmed Michael Jackson's Thriller - presently the highest-selling record of all time with nearly 65 million copies sold - said a producers touch is mostly acknowledged when the song or album is a success.
"If it has the wrong tempo, wrong cover and wrong song selection it's all the producer's fault," he said. "If it's a hit record it's all because of the artist."
. Will.i.am and Timbaland are performing on Friday at the Dubai World Trade Centre at 10pm. Tickets begin from Dh200; visit www.ticketmaster.ae
. Dubai Music Week continues until Sunday. Go to Arts& Life's Scene& Heard blog for all the conference and concert action