x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Searching the UAE for the next big thing

Hennessy Artistry Unplugged is back for a second year, looking for local talent to take to the next level.

Hamdan Al Abri, one of the judges for Hennessy Artistry Unplugged. Courtesy Fame International
Hamdan Al Abri, one of the judges for Hennessy Artistry Unplugged. Courtesy Fame International

More than a dozen artists entered Hennessy Artistry Unplugged and performed original songs in front of the judges at Zinc in Dubai's Crowne Plaza. The final eight are squaring off this Saturday.

What all the noise is about

Hennessy Artistry Unplugged is both a talent competition and live music showcase for local and emerging singer-songwriters.

Organised by the talent agency FAME International, Unplugged was once a purely singer-songwriter showcase but this year it transformed into a talent competition.

Each Saturday until July 14, local artists will have the chance to perform in front of judges and an audience at Zinc nightclub in Dubai's Crowne Plaza. "It's about giving artists exposure," says the FAME events director Ethan Auguste. "And it's not only on the internet, but a chance to perform their song live in front of an audience."

Not exactly Dubai Idol

The competition is UAE-wide and there are no celebrity judges or TV cameras. In fact, the only cameras utilised are the contestants' own. In May, applicants filmed a two-minute video of themselves performing a song with an instrument or a cappella.

After filling out the online enrolment form, they uploaded the videos on to Hennessy Artistry's Facebook page.

Judges picked the artists that would play up to three songs live at Zinc the following Saturday. Videos of the performances would be uploaded once again on Facebook and the artists with the most "likes" will qualify for the finals beginning this week.

The judges

Regrettably, not Simon Cowell - and thankfully, not J.Lo. The panel is made up of the local soul artist Hamdan Al Abri, the DJs Dany Neville and Rone Jaxx and representatives from Hennessy Artistry and FAME International.

The suits in the corner

They could be the most important people in the room. "On select nights, people from Sony Music will come to have a listen," Auguste says. Make sure those guitars are tuned correctly, folks.

The prizes

Yes, indeed. While it's not a promise of a trip around the world or funding for a Live in Umm Al Quwain DVD, it's a neat package designed to kick-start your music career: the winner and runner-up will receive an artist management contract with FAME International, which will record and distribute their album as well as produce a music video.

The competition so far

Eclectic. "There has been a wide variety, from acoustic rock to hip-hop," Auguste says. "I am very happy with it so far - it is a very healthy competition." So what are you waiting for?

Visit www.famedxb.com and www.facebook.com/HennessyArtistryUAE for information. Zinc is located at the ground floor of Crowne Plaza Dubai. Hennessy Artistry Unplugged continues until July 14