They call it “enchantment.” The love that links the audience to a star. There is no doubt that her talent plays a key role, but no one can deny the magic of her charisma. Is there anyone who doesn’t like Nancy Ajram? Her smiling eyes, transparency, and her subtle way of living with fame is magnetic. “I don’t believe in luck as the only source of success,” explains Ajram from her neat and spacious office in Kaslik, peppered with awards and family pictures. “I started singing at an early age, and I worked hard. I reaped what I sowed. I accumulated many experiences over time. I performed on stage with orchestras. I also learned how to sing in a manner that creates a pleasurable ambience. I developed my own musical education and built a team that helps and guides me to make difficult decisions. I consider my steps and select carefully my songs. Hard work is the key to success.”
Originally printed in the January 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia.
Ajram rejects the idea that her fame came suddenly. “It was said that I achieved instant success after my single “Akhasmak Ah” (2003), but I had been singing and practicing a whole decade before releasing this song, since I was 20 years old. I still practice, focusing on developing my artistic capabilities. I worked hard and God helped me. My success is a destiny. I feel it through people’s love, which is really a treasure,” she adds. “This is not a cliché, but rather a fact in my case. I feel it when tickets to my concerts sell out swiftly, even though it has been almost two years since my last album was released. My audience wants to see me, and not just listen to my music.”
Going back to the inescapable notion of charisma, where does it come from? “Charisma is a secret, and I can’t explain it,” she winks. Perhaps it has to do with the purity of her soul, one that has not changed despite her fame. “I don’t care about fame,” she insists, explaining, “My talent helps spread my songs. But I don’t live the life of a celebrity, for what used to make me happy before I became famous still does now.” Fame made her all the more attached to her family and close friends. “I find myself always going back to them; my foundations. I seek to fulfill my duties completely toward my husband and two daughters. I organize everything in my life. I give my family and my work all my energy. I plan my next steps ahead of time and develop based on a preconceived plan, always learning anew. Those who are not inquisitive cannot move forward in life.”
Nancy changes, develops, and matures. “I’m 35 years old now. Life, my experiences, marriage, and motherhood all made me more mellow. I also learned a great deal from my concerts and travels where I encounter people from diverse backgrounds and discover new cultures. I’ve gone through experiences that changed my perceptions of life and helped me endure its problems. Motherhood also made me more mature. Time passes and enriches me. And all along I am followed by my fans. I am delighted that the generation of ‘Akhasmak Ah’ accompanied me in my new genres. They have traveled with me through my own musical transformations.” One of these recent planned transformations pertains to Ajram’s own style. Today, she is dressed in leggings, black boots, and a puffy jacket. “I sought this change in appearance because I can no longer reflect the image of the cute girl,” she notes with a giggle. “Yet I am also convinced that no matter what I do, my audience will always see me as someone with a baby face. Perhaps this has something to do with my smile. That’s what those who have been following me for the past two decades tell me. But I also like to appear as a woman whose clothes and body do not hinder her from expressing her feelings and choices.”
Ajram states that since her beginnings, she has produced more than 700 songs, from which she usually hums two or three. “These are the tarab [classical] songs. I love them, and the audience still asks for more, but the new generation wants to listen to a song that is no longer than three minutes, and then move on to the next. Nevertheless, beautiful melodies are timeless. Music is the most wonderful language. It is my companion. It helps me meditate and turn inwards.” She enjoys classical music at home. “I’m listening to Beethoven these days. I put the headphones on my belly, so that the melodies can reach my baby daughter. Sometimes Mila, Ella and [my husband] Fadi join us. We have a room for music at home, where we gather the four of us once a week and enjoy listening to music that expresses my feelings without communicating. Music conveys the message without words.”
Whenever Ajram awaits the release of a new album, she loses the ability to sleep, but now, she is enjoying every moment as she awaits the birth of her third baby. “I imagine what her personality and looks will be like, and I anxiously await to see who she will take after; what is the shape of her eyes and face. Will she look like Ella or Mila? I’m as excited as if it was my first pregnancy because it’s been six years since I gave birth to my second daughter, Ella. My happiness derived from being a mom and what I feel for my daughters is indescribable. I lose the ability to focus on my work if I’m not satisfied about myself as a mother, or if I’m facing a problem at home. My perfectionist nature is a cause of constant anguish. Stress is part of my daily life. These days I think about the post-delivery stage. I wonder what I will do after giving birth to my third daughter. How I’ll bring her up, and what if my two daughters are jealous of her? But Mila and Ella are excited about having a sibling and have even chosen names for her. They’ve made a list of five names, but they are all improbable [laughs].” A girl is a blessing for her family. She stays close to them; offering them love and acting with responsibility. Ajram also learned the importance of her closest relations, “l love the warmth a family provides, and celebrating festivities together. That’s why my house is always open to my family and friends. The need for settling down is what makes me stay in my country despite the challenges that have become part of our everyday routine. I get easily attached to places and things, even to my furniture. When I redecorate the house, I find myself missing the old elements. This is why I don’t like change, and why I can’t just pick up my bags and leave.”
Ajram knows exactly what she wants, and what direction she will take in the next phase. “I know how I need to renew the themes of my songs, and which melodies to select. I sit with my manager Jiji Lamara, with my composers and lyricists, and I know which song I want to select from the first stanza. I feel it. I’m not a stubborn person unless it’s something that has to do with me personally. But I always seek other opinions for anything pertaining to my work and my two daughters. I am willing to change my mind, but at the same time, I trust in my instincts, because these, like my heart, never fail me.”