HIBA MOUNZER: FROM CHILD STAR TO FIRST LEBANESE POP SENSATION
CHILDHOOD AND FESTIVALS
Her Name is quickly related to the Lebanese Maestro Abdo Mounzer, also her father and manager who supported her dream and stood by her on her first stage appearance when she was 5 years old. As she sang the last notes of the song, echoes filled the room where the audience applauded warmly. The echo of her unique voice continues to resonate.
Hiba Mounzer grew up learning to dance as Britney Spears, Michael and Janet Jackson. She improved her singing skills by practicing songs by Majida el Roumi, Christina Aguilera and Lara Fabian. Hiba’s father watched and guided her throughout her journey from an outstandingly talented child to a number one artist.
Producers all around the world have been entranced by her captivating presence and performance on stage and by her mature range of voice. A precocious young girl, Hiba gained experience and confidence by travelling, along with her father, to compete in International Competitions. Before an acclaimed music audience, ten-year-old Hiba sang solo a Christmas Carol for the big event at Salle des Fetes Annexe de Mairis- Paris 14e. The performance was an instant success, gaining her much critical acclaim.
After this unexpected success, it was necessary to proceed accordingly. Abdo Mounzer put Hiba face to face with a larger audience after having helped her record a music album for children. Her first music video was for her song “Namleh”. As a result of her devoted effort to her first album “Yalla Yalla Ya Zghar”, Hiba was rewarded by being chosen to participate in the “Nile’s first child song” International festival. Her spontaneous performance of “Tic-Tac”, which was a featured song in her first album, captivated the audience, jury and even fellow competitions. Tic-tac became a hit song on the lips of all those who were present.
"I was so young at that time," Hiba says “I didn’t realize that I had a talent. For me, singing was just like having breakfast before school or saying a prayer before going to sleep.”
Growing up, Hiba had the opportunity most peers can only dream of:besides being a choreographer at school events, a talented piano player and a painter,
Hiba is a winner at singing festivals, a lead member in her father’s Christian Choir, a guest of honor at only 14 for international companies’ events such as "Lions", the voice of many of Disney’s Middle East cartoon characters including “Peperan”, “Pbnj” and “Kim Possible”, a presenter for TV show “Efrahou Maana” and a director at the Summer Village Theater. Ambitious as her life experiences prove, Hiba still longed for one more: Performance!
FAME AT 17 YEARS OLD
November 2001 brought winds of change to Hiba. She pursued her long awaited dream of being a performer. This was realized when she participated in Romania in the First International song contest for children, the event being supported by FIDOF. At only 14, she charmed the audience with her powerful voice that won her the 3rd runner up award and an unforgettable lifetime experience. “It was the first time I felt this love for singing” She says, “Although it was a tough competition and the song I had to sing was difficult and requires a professional singer, I did not let stage fear control me, and I discovered how powerful my voice can be.”
"...I decided from that moment, that I wanted this as my career!"
After years of preparation and hard work, Hiba released her first single in January 2004. “Chou Bhebbak” became the number one hit which also won her the “Popularity Award” in the Romanian Festival. Her videos were full of energy, and her drive for dancing was revealed to the world through the shows she choreographed. The audience took to the “Britney Spears of the Middle East” phenomenon especially after her second hit “Keef baddak habibi” in which video she demonstrated stunning dancing skills. To express their amazement with Hiba’s singular art and talent, fans and dancers from all around the Middle East poured their generous words of praise. In her songs which touch on the theme of love, Hiba respects the reserved Middle East culture and ideology and goes a step further by experimenting in modern forms of dancing.
A controversial jump to a "Whitney Houston" feel made the headlines with her exceptional, inimitable, and emotional chant in"Khedni Habibi". Journalists were stumped by whether to call her Britney Spears or "Christina Aguilera of the Middle East", Celine Dion or Whitney Houston. "This is crazy! It wasn't even a small part of my expectations.. For my name to be linked with these women is an honor. They were the reason I dreamed of this career, and my childhood idealization of these artists must have revealed itself in my adult performance, which remind critics and fans of the great performers of the West."
HOLLYWOOD AND CANNES
June 2005, HIS "Hollywood International Stars"music production company brought its plans to the Arab world. More than 150 performers from all around the Middle East, including Myriam Fares, Haifa Wehby and Jad Choueiri auditioned. Hiba was able to make it to the audition the last day;she was the last person to arrive to the set but the only one to be chosen to go to Hollywood. This gave her the opportunity to meet with producers such as Peter Rafelson, who works with Madonna, musicians as Steve Eggleston and attorneys as Jeffrey Phillips, the Jacksons’ attorney. Janet Jackson herself called Hiba and congratulated her on her success, even in USA, and proposed a deal for “Keef Baddak Habibi” to be added to Janet’s album and be sung in English in Jackson’s voice. Hiba returned to Lebanon with promising deals for the future.
With all the interviews, festivals, concerts, photoshoots, TV appearances, devotion to fans and the wild Hollywood trip, Hiba did not shift her attention from her responsibility as a devoted Cinema audio-visual student, as she graduated on top of her class in February 2008 from USEK. Her patriotic and national feel was exhibited during her participation in Alexandria’s International singing festival where she sang “Beirut ya Beirut”, coming home with 2 prizes and a Video Clip ready to be directed. Her aim was to show her personal vision of Beirut after the past years of shock and hope that Lebanon witnessed. Hiba was complimented warmly on the video, and her artistic style was emulated by other artists who made their own versions of Beirut songs.
Her success as a director took a step further after directing the film “Check mate”, which was chosen as the best among all student films of Lebanon by CCF “Centre Culturel Francais”. As a result, Hiba became the representative of Lebanon in the 60th Cannes Anniversary Students’ masters workshop in which directors, critics, producers, writers and journalists were present. Her latest film “Let it Rain” won her the “Directing and Cinematography” Prize for the European Film Festival 2008 in Lebanon.
WAITING FOR THE RIGHT MOMENT
"I will put all my energy, my efforts and talents to make people happy and give them something to look forward to. My directing skills will be a supply for my career; I will show the world who I am as a singer and what I am aiming for as a person."
Hiba is constantly one step closer to the top she has always dreamed of. With her self-motivation and ambition, she strikes as the Lebanese Diva you don’t want to compete with. With her mature voice and boiling passion, she manages to make every release a hit song and every video more original than ever before. "Yey Chou Bhebbak" track & video, released November 2010, became in its first week of release, an instant hit and jumped to the top 5 list in most Lebanese radio stations. It was accompanied by a music video she directed herself, which its imagery reflects the type of unique live show she works hard for and her love for performance.
Hiba has stayed away from the spotlight for a while, explaining in this statement: “As my career and commitment are growing as an artist, as a person I am an empath and I feel the need to step back and live day by day with my family and friends while Lebanon finds its feet again. My album is ready I have new songs that are sitting on the shelf, ready for the right timing.”
Nonetheless Hiba has kept her promise to her fans by delivering music & has decided to release "Tarekni Lameen". The next Hit ballad after "Khedni Habibi", released on February 2012. True to her respect for the Lebanese struggle through war and instability, the track was marketed to circulate only on social media sites, without any propaganda, media coverage nor a music video. A Hit that circulated ipods and playlists of Lebanese fans was highlighting Hiba’s singular style and ability to awaken the joy and enthusiasm she strives to create in the hearts of listeners. More strikingly is her creative persistence to prove that a true artist is unpredictable; a true artist cannot be labeled.
A NEW LIFE
True to her word, Hiba balanced her time between preparations, perspective, studies and true love which blossomed into marriage and family. And while she never stopped performing, rehearsing and maturing as an artist during these couple of years, she worked harder for an unexpected comeback in late 2017. A much anticipated music video for "Tarekni Lameen" was released, which bumped the song to number one on Lebanese and Arab radio stations in a short period of time. Promotion extended between Dubai (her residence) and Lebanon (her home country), with TV appearances and radio coverages for several months. This move was quickly followed by the release of the BOP "Baddi Gharam Jdid" in 2018 on which her team collaborated with UK studio Dr.Mix for its mastering and an unreleased remix production. Both music videos for the respective songs were shot in one day and directed by Hiba herself.
"I like to keep my vision clear, my team innovative with suggestions and my fans involved in every step I take." Hiba says, as she went on promoting her videos on Instagram and Youtube premier sessions, while both songs toured the night life with both their original and remixed versions.
Hiba revealed to fans that both singles were promotional for her upcoming album which she has been silently recording for the past 2 years. To their surprise Hiba released another album, a long-awaited official mastering of her pervious number one hit singles with remixes, promoted with never-seen before backstage rushes and throwbacks of their favorite moments.
Ready for the pre-order of her yet awaited new album to drop, an unexpected bump changed everyone's lives. Covid and the biggest Lebanese economical crisis yet, hit in late 2019.
Hiba says: “Today, many lives have changed. I put my plans on hold again but never lost perspective of what is important. I am always in touch with my fans, we encourage each other and whether I am on a creative roll or resting and taking care of my son, we stay in touch and discuss transitions in life and of course their ideas on the music I will be offering next. In whatever stage in life I am, music is my passion and language, that is why I chose it as a career and not a passing job... I am very protective of my dreams and grateful for the chances I've had to fulfill them at a young age… there’s a lot of potential still hidden in me, I am still on the way up, and by God’s will, I will keep singing and bringing Joy unto the wounded Lebanese people’s hearts”.