Egypt was once the hub of arts and culture in the Middle East, and the whole world celebrated the likes of Naguib Mahfouz and Om Kolthoum. Granted, the January 25th Revolution has given new life to artists, writers and musicians, but our biggest ‘stars’ these days spend more time in Pepsi commercials or taking selfies at the White House Correspondents’ dinner than they do mastering their craft.
But it’s not all bleak; Egypt might have something to celebrate come September 20th, at the grand final of Rolling Stone Middle East’s Street to Stage competition in Dubai.
The contest, which is now in its second round and is voted for by the public, aims to unearth the best unsigned talent in the region, with the winner being given the opportunity of a lifetime. The triumphant act will be mentored by Sony Music and will receive a load of coverage by Rolling Stone ME.
Egypt’s remaining hope lies with singer-songwriter, Shehab Kasseb, who frequenters of Cairo Jazz Club will recognise as the frontman of local pop-rock cover band, Screwdriver. The pressure on Kasseb is mounting, with the competition’s only other Egyptian entry, rap group Arabian Knightz, having been eliminated in the first round.
But the competition has also allowed Kasseb to showcase a different side to his repertoire; having just completed the recording of solo chill-out album, The Far East, this could prove to be the perfect platform from which he can take his career to another level – a career that has already seen him work with the likes of award-winning musician, Fathy Salama.
Good luck Shehab!