Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Lebanese superstar Elissa to quit music, saying the industry is like a 'mafia'

The star, who battled breast cancer last year, says her next album will be her last

Lebanese singer Elissa is one of the most famous female pop vocalists in the Arab world today.

But she's about to quit, and says that her next album will be her last.

"I am preparing this new album with a lot of love and passion," the 46-year-old wrote on her Twitter account on Monday afternoon. "The reason is that it will be the last one in my career."

She went on to say that she "can't work in a field that is similar to a mafia", and that she "can't be productive any more".

Egyptian actress Menna Shelaby replied to Elissa's tweet, saying: "Elissa, you are one of a kind, a soul singing with passion, vulnerability and strength." While her good friend, Dubai-based photographer Wadih Elnajjar replied "we won't let you do this".

When The National spoke to Elissa in June, she said she'd already recorded five songs for her next album, and she has continued to tour throughout the summer.

Whether a specific incident or issue has caused Elissa to call the music industry a "mafia" is unknown, but late last year she tweeted about her content "being blocked" by her record label Rotana after her music was removed from Anghami, where she had racked up 500 million plays, because of Rotana's deal with Deezer.

At the times she said she was "devastated to see" her "efforts vanish".

Throughout her two decade-career, she has released startling tracks that often discuss taboo subjects in Arabic societies.

These songs include 2015’s powerful Ye Meryati (My Mirror), which tackles under-reported cases of domestic violence in Lebanese homes, and 2017's A'aks Elli Shayfenya (The Opposite of What We See) in which she details the life of Lebanese dancer Dany Bustros, who committed suicide in 1998 after the death of her only son.

“I have never been concerned about discussing tough subjects. The key is finding the best way to talk about them. When it comes to the song about Dany Bustros, I did that song to show people the life they don’t see away from the limelight. The point is that we shouldn’t judge people because we don’t know what they are going through,” she says.

Elissa battled breast cancer last year, but only revealed her illness after she had been cleared from it.

“I only revealed my condition after I became healthy again. I wouldn’t have done it while I was going through it. I did it at the end to encourage people to know about this condition," she told The National in June.

However, there were times when shouldn’t shake off the voices of the online trolls, who attacked her over her illness. “There is not so much I can really say about these people,” she said. “What I learned is to show empathy to them. They are probably going through challenges and if they were content with their own lives then they wouldn’t be sitting around posting these comments. May God help them, honestly.”

Here is her latest music video, We:

Updated: August 20, 2019 08:00 AM

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