I think I have a new crush, and she just happens to be the winner of the recently held Lebanese singing contest, “Star Academy”, it what seems like a combination of the shows, “Big Brother” and “American Idol”. The object of my affection, as well as the affection of the Iraqi people, is Shada Hassoun.
Families had been gathered in front of television sets across Iraq every Friday night for four months cheering on one of their own. Hasoon won the competition with 7 million votes coming in via telephone and text messages from across the Middle East. The cheering crossed sectarian lines. In the northern — and Kurdish — city of Irbil and neighborhoods packed with Iraqi exiles in Amman, families took to the streets, cheering and waving flags.
This beautiful lady, with the voice of an angel, was born in Cassablanca, Morocco, and studied in Paris. But, despite never having been to Iraq, she embraced Iraq with all of her heart, and all of her soul. And in return, Iraq, chose to embrace her.
She had made Friday’s finals, and a public vote, sent via cell phone, would decide her fate. And so Iraqis everywhere were in a Shada frenzy this week — causing many to observe that, win or lose, Hassoun, 26, who professes to love jet-skiing and Antonio Banderas, had managed to engender a sense of national cohesion that has eluded Iraq for years.
A week ago, she garnered 54.8 percent of the global vote, which sent her into the finals and jubilant Iraqis into the streets.
By Friday evening, unofficial results showed Hassoun in the lead. Al-Sharqiya’s curly-haired anchor implored Iraqis to cast their votes for the “daughter of Mesopotamia.”
By 11:30 p.m., the four finalists had sung and danced for the last time on the show. They stood in a line on the stage, Hassoun in a sparkly blue halter dress. The crowd was silent.
Finally, the results popped up on the screen: With 40 percent, Hassoun was the winner.
Looking at the many performances of Shada, I like the following the best.