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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Laith Abu Joda makes a colourful return with new single

Laith Abu Joda talks to Saeed Saeed about his new song 100 Lown and trusting his instincts 

Palestinian pop singer Laith Abu Joda. Courtesy Sony Music Middle East
Palestinian pop singer Laith Abu Joda. Courtesy Sony Music Middle East

There are times when you simply need to do it yourself. Such was the case with singer Laith Abu Joda when he started working on his comeback single.

Having been out of the limelight for more than a year following his rise to fame on the television reality show Star Academy, the 25-year-old Palestinian knew he needed a sure-fire hit to get back in the public eye. The challenge was trying to find the right song.

“That was difficult,” he says. “I was going to so many composers and producers and they were offering me all these songs that they were working on.

“The thing was, the whole experience seemed not genuine. They were talking to me as if they were trying to sell me vegetables at the market. All they wanted was to make some money and they didn’t really care about what I wanted artistically.”

So, Abu Joda did the lion’s share himself, having for the first time composed the melodies (lyrics by Mehdi Ezz El Din) for his new track 100 Lown (100 Colours).

Released two weeks ago and already clocking up more than half a million views on YouTube, 100 Lown is a fun summery pop number that doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Abu Joda is all charm as he croons of a love “who illuminates me in 100 colours” over an energetic production filled with up-tempo percussion, dancing keyboards and ney.

The singer’s satisfaction with the reception is tinged with relief. “I was absolutely petrified before the song came out,” he admits. “I mean, when you are away that long and fans are asking you about your next move, it can scare you. But I am so happy that people are enjoying it and more importantly, I think, it just shows that I should trust myself more.”

Born in Jordan, Abu Joda showed an affinity for music at an early age, with vocal performances at school from the age of 6. After completing his degree in music in Cairo, he joined the Cairo Opera House choral team for their in-house productions.

His regional break came after being one of the 16 contestants, from an audition pool of 3,000, to appear in the 10th season of Star Academy in 2014.

Unlike Arab Idol, where the competition is purely based on performances, Star Academy also incorporates elements of reality television, with contestants living together under the same roof for up to three months. “It was a challenge as you are sharing a space with people you may not get along with and share their opinions. There is also the fact that you are awake a lot of the time from 7am to 2am with the cameras on all the time and you can’t even call home,” he recalls.

“But, you know, while I am glad the show is over I can’t say that I didn’t miss those days.”

With an expansive voice equally at home with pop, folk and operatic pieces, Abu Joda left the show in the quarter finals and launched his music career. Releasing the well-received singles and the dance music stylings of Habino Yallah and Stour Mehterka, Abu Joda has been performing a steady run of concert performances since.

It was during these performances he realised the need to come up with his own material. He hopes the success of 100 Lown will spur enough interest to lead to a debut album of original songs.

“When I left Star Academy, people wanted to see me perform because of that show,” he says. “But it’s now two years later, and while I do have my fans, it’s time for me to sing my own songs, and not the music of other great artists. That is the way to ultimately succeed, to compose and sing your own songs and I hope that chance will come.”

Until then, there is more work to do in pushing 100 Lown out to the masses. Abu Joda confirms an accompanying video is in the works with the UAE high on the shortlist of locations.

“When I first started my career I always thought it would be great to shoot a video somewhere in Europe,” he says. “Over the last two years, I came to the UAE three times for shows, twice in Dubai and once in Abu Dhabi, and I was just taken away by how amazing it is and all the different places it has.

“Who needs to go to Europe when you have beautiful places in our own part of the world?”

100 Lown by Laith Abu Joda is out now through Sony Music Middle East

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