By now, you must have probably heard of Mirelle Mokhtar, and if the name still doesn’t ring a bell, then her afro mountain girl looks, and most importantly, her angelic voice, surely do. So, make sure to know the name by heart, because we’re pretty sure she’ll be making it big in the music industry soon, and that’s why we had a little chit-chat with her for this week’s #TalentTuesdays.
Mirelle’s passion for music goes all the way back to her childhood; she still remembers when she started off humming at the age of three. But the moment that’s truly memorable for her was in 2nd-grade music class. She was singing Yesterday by The Beatles with the choir and her music teacher heard something in her voice; she paused, called her name, and asked her to sing in front of the whole class. To this day, the rising songstress can never forget this moment because to her, it was her very first performance.
Her music career, however, didn’t take off until 2018 when one of her videos went viral on Instagram. Ever since the social media platform launched its 15-second video feature and Mirelle has been posting videos of her singing, in the hopes that she would someday be discovered as she deep down wanted to make a career out of music. But it wasn’t that easy for her.
“I was super hesitant to post my very first video and every single time that I decided to post a video, I’d genuinely freak out just because not a lot of people knew that I sang; it was something that I kept to myself,” she told us. “In the third year in uni, I was 20 at the time, and I posted my first video on Instagram; it was the best way for me to express myself.”
Posting on Instagram, for Mirelle, was the closest thing to getting heard, as she described it, and because music was the one thing that she’s most passionate about, she took that leap of faith. However, one day, decided not to post anymore, thinking to herself, “what’s the point?” But for some reason, a week later after she took that decision, she posted another video, and that was the one that changed her life for good. Her cover for La Bidaye Wala Nihaye by Hiba Tawaji was the one, even though she did not see it coming; she did not expect it to go viral at all, but it did. Her video garnered 140,000 views overnight, and eventually, half a million. More people started recognising her, opportunities started coming her way, producers started reaching out and even got a call from The Voice France.
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We’d like to believe that growing up in an artistic home and around a supportive family was one of the main reasons that helped nurture Mirelle’s talent. Even though she studied Communications and not music, music was instilled in her ever since she was a kid. Her parents played music around the house all the time and her brother was the one who taught her how to play the guitar.
Mirelle doesn’t just look up to her artistic family, but to other artists as well. With a lot to name including Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan, Maggie Rogers, and Billie Eilish, nobody tops John Mayer for her. “I look up to him as a songwriter, his guitar skills are out of this world, his voice is insane; he’s just up there,” she said. And when we asked her about who she’d like to work with someday, she named Lady Gaga, Pharell Williams, and Kygo among international artists, and Cairokee and Souad Massi as Arab ones.
One artist that Mirelle has been already lucky to work with is Egyptian music producer and composer, Hisham Kharma. Earlier this year, they released a music video together for a magical song, written by Nesma El Shazly, Haleq Maa’y. Shot on the golden dunes of beautiful Fayoum, the music video was the talk of the town.
“This was hands down one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced,” she excitedly said. “It was the maddest adrenaline rush! There was an instant connection with Kharma, both musically and personally,” Mirelle added. And even though she described the recording process as amazing and so much fun, she also told us it was nervewracking as well. You see, remember when Mokhtar said that many people started recognising her when her video went viral? Well, Kharma was one of those people and Mirelle wanted nothing at the time but to prove to him that she can live up to his expectations. “I’m thankful for him in so many ways and touring with him was a dream come true. Nothing beats the rush of being on stage with him,” she explained.
Another iconic milestone in Mokhtar’s career was her experience at the World Youth Forum last year. She sang an operetta among other singers for the opening ceremony of the prestigious event. She told us that the whole thing, starting with the fact that she got a call from them to singing in front of President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi, was a huge honour for her. Not to mention the people she met there and that this was one of the biggest audiences she sang to. “I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this happened. This is one of the best days of my life,” she told us.
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It’s also noteworthy that Mirelle has a job as a radio host. She believes that this complements her music career because on her show, she gets to interview local bands, musicians, and artists. She feels that this is the perfect place for her, not just because she sometimes ends up collaborating with them, but because she’s constantly surrounded by people who share the same passion as hers, which inspires her.
And speaking of inspiration, Mirelle also told us that nature is her biggest source of inspiration when writing music. She usually derives inspiration from the sounds she hears around her, especially in the mountains. She told us about the times she used to go hiking back when she was living in Vancouver, Canada. Back then, Mirelle had this special spot in her living room where she used to sit down and write. She has a few written but unreleased, called “We Always Say Goodbye” and “If You Don’t Love Me”.
There are a few other original songs in the works, but still in the early stages. Mirelle revealed to us that she usually takes her time when it comes to creating original content because she always wants to make sure that she puts out things that represent what she believes in and what she’s passionate about. She wants to sound as raw, honest, and true in her music, and not just put things out there for the sake of it.
Check out Mirelle Mokhtar's latest video, where she beautifully sings the Egyptian national anthem.
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