Banker by day and musician by night; Mohamed Najeeb is working on his album due to release by the final quarter of this year. We speak to the artist about his career in music.
You will recognise Mohamed Najeeb as a finalist on Amr Diab Academy. He was the only Khaleeji to make it to the top 10. Mohamed has come a long way since his appearance on the reality show. We take a look at how he found his calling in music and what he plans to do with his skills.
Woman This Month: How did you find out that you were meant to be a musician?
Mohamed Najeeb (MN): I had found an interest in music at a young age. At around 10 years, I was fiddling with drums, guitars and the piano. It began in school, where I participated in every school concert. However, that had more to do with instruments.
I’ve always loved to sing, but it was only when I turned 14 that I had taken that passion seriously. Believe it or not, I discovered this through karaoke nights with friends.
While everyone found it to be a fun activity, I would listen to myself and check if I was on the right note. So it’s safe to say nobody wanted me to join them on karaoke night again (laughs).
WTM: From being someone who would simply jam with friends, you have made a name for yourself as a professional singer. Tell us about your journey.
MN: When I was 18, I had made it to the finalists on Star Academy Three. However, I’d to decline their offer as they had offered me the chance to participate as an Egyptian national, because my strength was in Egyptian music.
I then began recording songs and had a year off before going off to university in the UK, during which I’d taken music and guitar lessons. While at university, my passion remained unchanged.
I would miss classes to go to a church next door, where they taught vocals. I’d spent the next six months singing church hymns!
WTM: Do you have a memorable moment of performing in front of a crowd?
MN: One night, I was walking down to the halls during my university days. I was just singing to myself, when this guy stopped me. He told me there was a cancer research charity concert held every year and he’d like me to perform in it.
I met the band; they liked my vocals and gave me few songs to sing at the gig. There were more than 500 people in the audience. As if that didn’t make me nervous enough, I had my outfit to worry about. It was a formal event with everyone in suits and there I was on stage wearing a leather jacket. Thankfully, it was a great crowd and they cheered me on. It went well.
WTM: What was the best part about being a finalist on Amr Diab Academy?
MN: Aside from being chosen from thousands to be in the final 10, I’ll have to say it’s representing Bahrain on such a huge platform, where I was the only Khaleeji! Secondly, I am happy to have had the opportunity to network with and meet such legendary artists.
The competition was a big step in my life. They taught me a lot of things, especially to recognise my weaknesses. For instance, being Bahraini and Egyptian, I would sometimes mispronounce letters in respective dialects. Amr Diab Academy showed me how important technical aspects can be in music.
WTM: How do you balance your day job as a banker and your passion for singing?
MN: I’m hardworking. As soon as I leave work at 5.30pm, I switch off. That’s the trick. A lot of people leave work and still think about it at home, which does nothing. You don’t move forward. It doesn’t make you concentrate on things outside of work either.
For example, when I used to perform weekly, it was too hectic. I would change in my car to catch the event on time on a weekday. I realised that I was not giving the event my 100 percent.
At the same time, I’d spend the last two hours at work thinking of what I’m going to be doing at the event. I decided to cut that off and just do events on weekends every now and then to give both fields my best. It’s a tough balance.
WTM: What has changed through the years?
MN: At a point in my life I considered going to a music school in Egypt, but to be honest the market in Bahrain is not ready for someone to study music and earn money from it. A lot of people try to hide that, but we’ve got to
It’s easier in Lebanon, Egypt and Dubai. I’m a banker at the moment; I’m doing great. As an only child, it’s a gamble to throw my degree and just pack my bag.
I’m approaching music differently now. I’ve adopted social media as a tool to promote my music. Traffic has increased in a few months just through hashtags!
WTM: Tell us about your upcoming album.
MN: I’m working with some people from Bahrain and Egypt for lyrics. I write and compose, but I want to add different kinds of emotions into the album. When you have 10 songs of your own, you will end up with having an album that’s got many similar tracks. I want diversity.
I was five songs in and I decided to remove three. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I look forward to creating a house track that blends Arabic elements for an East meets West vibe.
WTM: If you could let our readers in on a secret, what would it be?
MN: I am currently working on a fashion line. I’m looking at fabrics as we speak. It’ll kick off with a range of t-shirts.