I had a delightful time speaking to and interviewing Ms. Lydia Canaan, a singer-songwriter, poet, humanitarian, feminist, United Nations delegate, and the first rock star of the Middle East. Her story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles and rising to international superstardom is demonstrative of this amazing time we are in – the whole world is open for us to thrive and to conquer!
I would like to thank to Ms.Lydia Canaan and her manager Mr.Thomas Vitins for giving us this great opportunity; and I would also thank to Mr.Bobu – previously a news writer at CNN in Tampa , Florida– for checking, revising and developing this article with me.
Fumiya Akashiaka on behalf of RedDeer International
Table of Contents
1. Background of Lydia Canaan
2. As a humanitarian activist ( with Q & A )
3. achievement and Dream she pursued ( with Q & A)
4. Messages to those who are running for their dream
Lydia Canaan was born in the mountain village of Brummana , Lebanon. During her teens, she developed her skills and talents in singing and songwriting. Her voice has been compared to such Western artists like Celine Dion and Tina Arena. Her impressive skills captured the attention of people of all ages worldwide. Her die-hard fans call her the “Lioness of Lebanon“
Her musical career started in 1983 with the rock band Equation, as the lead vocalist performing under the stage name Angel. She was hailed by the local media as the first rock star of the Middle East, and achieved more than 25 sell-out concerts with crowd numbers peaking at over 15,000.
According to Society Magazine, the concert was packed; in order to accommodate the crowd, organizers had to stamp each attendee’s hand as they ran out of tickets. Her first original song “Why All the Hurt”, dedicated to her deceased friend, became a No. 1 hit on the radio Chart in Lebanon.
In 1987, Canaan embarked on a solo career releasing original compositions “To Oblivion and Black“, “Does It Need Some Action” and ” The Christmas Wish“–all of which topped the radio charts.
The turning point in her career occurred 1989 when she left Lebanon and moved to Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland. In her new home, she encountered professional troubles as she attempted to relaunch her career. “You are famous in Lebanon, but not here,” said a Swiss record label executive. Despite the challenges posed in the new market, Lydia persevered, penned and recorded the biggest hit of her career so far, “Beautiful Life“, distributed by London based Pluse-8 Records in the spring of 1995.
Here is “Beautiful Life“
The success of “Beautiful Life“she gained fame and critical acclaim in the U.K, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East.
In addition to achieving international fame, she began working on another song that would soon become a smash hit–“The sound of Love“. She recorded the song in London, and distributed it through SIDI/ XEMA in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon in the summer of 2000.
Here is “The sound of love“
2. As a humanitarian Activist
Her role as a humanitarian and activist has grown throughout her career. She was awarded by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programs) in 2001. Her hit song “Beautiful life” was selected to be the theme song for a massive charity event that was a celebration of life, freedom and humanity, hosted by former South African President, the late Nelson Mandela.
In 2010, she performed at the Summer University of Palestine in Lebanon( a summer camp created to educate and raise awareness of the movement in Palestine and Lebanon’s crucial role in it) alongside notable guest speakers such as Norman Finkelstein, Gabi Baramki and many others.
She currently travels the world delivering speeches concerning human rights. On March 17th, 2014, and June 17th of 2014, she delivered a speech called “Islamophobia and Art” and ” hostage to Injustice” at the 25th and 26th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. On April 30th, 2014, she was invited to speak at the Arab International Forum in solidarity With Palestinian Prisoners, where she gave a speech to over three-hundred-fifty politicians from the U.S., Europe and Middle East in Beirut, Lebanon.
Her speech “Hostage to injustice” which began with ,” I was born in the world of borders, barricades and demarcation lines, and since I could not change the world around me , I created the world inside me…”, gained her a standing ovation and media attention.
Here is the Speech of “Hostage to Injustice“
Canaan supports the United Nations MY World Millennium Campaign, and on September 25, 2014 she participated in the MY World partners awards ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, along with campaign activist Zoleka Mandela (granddaughter of Nelson Mandela), film director Richard Curtis, actress Michelle Yeoh, TV presenter Femi Oke and various other celebrities and dignitaries.
– Q and A –
Q1. What would you like the World to be in next 10 years in terms of human rights?
A1. I would like to see a world devoid of conflicts and wars, a world where both genders celebrate equal rights, and a world where there is no hunger or poverty – a world of justice for all humanity
Q2. What do you think people (living in developed nations where they have merely nothing to do with people suffering) can do to assist those who are on the verge of being exposed to violence and danger especially in Africa and Middle east? For Instance, what Japanese people can do to stop the violation of human rights taking place not in Japan but in those nations in Africa and Middle East?
A2. People in developed nations can easily support various humanitarian causes and engage in activism through involvement in organizations such as NGOs and other non-profit organizations. I strongly believe that we are all intertwined with one another through humanity; it is our duty to commit ourselves in every way we can in order to alleviate suffering and misery. It is appalling to see that we are in the 21st century and still our humane evolution hasn’t evolved at a fast pace!
3.1. Achievements and Accomplishments
She pioneered as the first rock star of the Middle East
- From 1983 to 1988, she held over twenty-five sell out concerts.
- In 1987, she performed to a crowd of 20,000 at the Beirut Rock Festival
- In 1988, she performed sell-out concerts on three consecutive nights at Casino Du Liban.
- In 1988, she was awarded the Scoop D’or by Scoop Magazine in Beirut, Lebanon.
- In 1989, Lydia teamed up with David Richards ( producer of Queen and the Montreux Jazz Festival) , and also collaborated with Queen’s drummer, Roger Taylor, on “Love and Lust”.
- Through 1991 to 1993, she gave interviews for her songs such as ” Hey Richie” and ” Spiritual Man” ( a duet with Robin Scott ) were broadcasted by NBC Europe as well as Channel 4 in London and air-played on Radio Z in Zurich.
- In 1995, South African President Nelson chose her song “Beautiful Life” as the theme song for a charity event in South Africa under his auspices.
- In 1995, she opened the show with Beautiful Life before hanging over to MTV VJ Simone Angel for MTV Europe’s launch in Beirut. Former president of MTV Europe Peter Einstein stated ” MTV is proud and privileged to play Lydia’s videos on Music-Non-Stop Show…All at MTV have fallen in love with Lydia, her songs, and her performance.”
- In 1997, she was awarded by the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism in Beirut, Lebanon.
- In 1998, Her songs such as “Right on the Verge“, “Every Good Bye Ain’t Gone” and “A Love That Shines” simultaneously placed in the top 3 on Radio BTN (Billboard Talent Net) Top 50.
- In June, 1998, She was highly praised by Brent Hansen, a former president and Chief Executive of MTV & VH-1 EUROPE.
- In 2000, She made her album ” The Sound of Love” was released , and she made her UAE debut, performing in front of a completely packed concert at Dubai’s Sheraton Hotel.
- She was hailed by the mass media as the First Rock Start of the Middle East and dubbed by MTV Europe as “the diva from the Middle East”.
- In 2001, she performed at a charity event donating proceeds from her album sales “The sound of Love” to Salmaniyah Hospital Children Care Unit in Manama, Bahrain.
- In May, 2001, she was rewarded for her performance and her international success by June Bechara, the President of American Women’s Club of Labanon.
- In 2002, She was received by his Excellency General Emile Lahoud, President of Lebanon, and the First Lady on January , and was again invited to perform at the presidential Palace in Baabda, Lebanon on Mother’s day March 19 in honor of the wives of the presidential Guard Officers.
- in 2003, she was awarded by Association pour la Promotion Feminine in Beirut, Lebanon
- In 2004, her song “Libnan” was used as the theme song for an advertisement of “Rediscover Lebanon“, produced and broadcasted by CNN to more than 1 billion viewers, commissioned by the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade to promote Lebanon as a tourist destination.
- In 2005, she was awarded by Caritas in Beirut, Lebanon
3.2.Dream She pursued
– A Dream to give a dream to people –
Even as a young child, she was powerfully drawn to music. She says “Music comes naturally to me. All through my life , I have always been so musically inclined that I had always wanted to make a career out of it…” (Gulf News, 2000). Even though her father forbid her to learn how to play any music instruments, she always had one thing that he could not take from her: her Voice!
Growing up, she faced pressures and difficulties. Her father would not allow her to pursue a musical career, and Lebanon was at war. Notwithstanding, She did not give up her dream and wanted to give hope and dreams to people particularly in Lebanon. She later said ” the first concert in 1988 was a big phenomenon: seeing a woman going on stage wearing a short leather skirt with studs was revolutionary, during wartime in particular.” She also said ” I felt I was like a catalyst for a lot of people of my generation, for us the teenagers, because we wanted to digest these harsh times of war and violence , and we did not know how to do it. I think music was the greatest medium to do it”. ( The Daily Star, 2002)
The daily Star noted: “On stage, with her darling looks and style, Canaan became a role model. During her concert, there were a lot of women and girls that approached to her, saying
” You inspired me and changed my life. If you follow your dreams then you give us the courage to follow ours as well. If you can do it, so can we.“
– A Dream to become a Super Star –
She always wanted to break into the international music scene, and she persevered and made it happen. After working day and night, her song “Beautiful life” became popular in the U.K., Europe, Middle East, South Africa, and the U.S., and she gained international attentions and a reputation as the first rock star of the Middle-East. And she was also noted by prestigious Arabic NewsPapers Asharq Al-Hayat, and An-Nahar “…international lebanese singer whose voice invaded the European market, making its mark.”
– Q and A –
Q3. I believe that It must have been tough to you when your father was hard to understand your interest and desire to become a musician when you are little and teenager. But what made you push yourself to continuously pursue your dream?
A3. Indeed it was tough! And at a certain point I believed that my father was a major hindrance to my achieving and realizing my dream. But, of course, in retrospect it was not just his suppression of the exercising of my talents, but also the fear of him that he had instilled in me! But despite it all, I persevered because I was born an artist, and from a very early age was self-aware of my own gifts, and art has always been my oxygen, and is an inextinguishable flame in me!
Q4. Were there any moments you felt that you could not longer endure, yet picked yourself up and continued to archive? What was going on on your mind then? Was it a rough moment when you were told that you were famous in Lebanon, yet you were not in Switzerland with all the effort you made to become a national icon back in your country?
A4. Though there have been many disappointments, rejections, obstacles, and struggles along the way, I have never yielded nor felt defeated because I have faith in myself and in my gifts, my abilities, and capability to achieve my goals and fulfill my destiny. I welcome adversity and thrive even stronger when faced with it.
4. Message to those who are running for their dreams
Q5. There are a score of talented people who are engaging themselves in whatever they like to do in order to be successful, and a lot of them are facing difficulties and doubting themselves whether or not they can pursue their dreams. To those people, if you have a message or an advice you can give. We would like to deliver it to them.
A5. I don’t like to give advice because I don’t like to put myself above anyone. I like to share my experience and journey with every person who has a dream, regardless of what it is; I encourage holding on to one’s dreams and aspirations and refuse to allow any external influences or pressures to deter them! Just because we face difficulties, challenges, and possibly long, lonely periods of inactivity, does not justify giving up on our dreams. I have had my share of disappointments and setbacks, and made it. So if I can do it, so can you! Never, ever, ever give up! Live your dream!
More Information about Lydia Canaan, Please visit
Sound Cloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/lydiacanaan
About me: http://www.about.me/lydiacanaan
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