The first ITB World Music Prize 2012 is dedicated to the official partner country of Egypt and honors two musicians who “in their own particular way, have succeeded in delighting an international audience with a combination of Egyptian/Arabic sounds with western rhythms.”
The singer and composer Amr Diab, born in Port Said, is a superstar in the Arab world, and especially in Egypt, but regrettably less well-known in German-speaking countries. He is regarded as the father of the Mediterranean sound – an electrifying combination of western and Egyptian music elements. Amr Diab achieved his greatest success in 1996 with the song “Nour El Ain,” whose refrain “Ya Habibi” became a mega-hit not only throughout the Middle East but also in India, Spain, and South America. It is still the most successful recording ever made by an Arab singer and is the opening track on his “Greatest Hits” release (EMI Arabia), for which Amr Diab has received this award. For travelers to Egypt, it is an emotive reminder of this modern and musical land on the Nile.
With her sensually extrovert; versatile musicality; and her wonderful, multifaceted vocal talents, the singer Natacha Atlas conjurs up the magic of the Orient and of North Africa, and has accordingly also been awarded the World Music Prize of the ITB Berlin. Born in Brussels and a resident in the USA, but with Egyptian roots, this vocalist incorporates the classics, hypnotic dance, and electrobeats, through accomplished vocalization and jazz elements on her latest CD entitled “Mounqaliba. In A State Of Reversal” (World Village).
Juror Jürgen Deeg said: “Arranger Samy Bishai and Producer Paul Castle are the men behind ‘Mounqaliba,’ which is an intelligent and multilayered production and creates the perfect frame for the voice of Natacha Atlas. The ambient club track, “Batkallim,” is the highlight of a CD, which takes us to a musical survey of the Middle Eastern music culture. And the rhythmic effect of the stand-out dance tracks on this record, “Lahazat Nashwa” and “Taalet” in particular, are simply irresistable. Apart from her solo career, Natacha Atlas is also the vocalist with the group Transglobal Underground, as well as working with Jean Michel Jarre, Peter Maffay, Nigel Kennedy, and Sarah Brightman.