On the 21st March 2015, Sir Temi Żammit Hall within the University of Malta will be playing host to the 39th edition of L-Għanja tal-Poplu, a renowned local music competition, which not only promotes Maltese as a main language, but delves into the social theme element, hoping to raise awareness about several wordly topics.
During the years, the competition has been known to kickstart the careers of many performers, and as a result, escflashmalta.com has decided to speak to 3 vocalists, who went onto reach the live stages of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest following their victory in L-Għanja tal-Poplu. Next up is Corazon, a singer/songwriter, and 5-time participant in L-Għanja tal-Poplu, winning on 3 occasions, in 2007 with “Hawn Jien“, in 2009 with “Tal-Aħħar” and in 2010 with “Mill-Għajnejn ta’ Tifla“.
10 years ago, at the beginning of your career in music, the results in music competitions were not positive, with L-Irġiel in the Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza 2005 and Kieku Taf in L-Għanja tal-Poplu 2006 both at the bottom of the leaderboard. How did you pick yourself up, to become the singer/songwriter you are today?
It was not a matter of picking myself up, but more a question of learning and developing one’s skills and talents. It is also a matter of gaining credibility. There was a time when my compositions were so new and so different that they would be automatically dismissed and sneered at. By time, things have changed and now many other artists have followed siut and inspired themselves from my style and I am proud of this. Interestingly enough, with regards to ‘Kieku Taf’, it is included in my most recent album ‘Hawn Jien’ and has proven to be one of its most popular tracks, albeit being one of my very first compositions, penned when I was only 16 years old.
As a matter of fact, just 12 months later, you re-entered L-Għanja tal-Poplu with another self-penned entry, Hawn Jien, finishing at the top of the leaderboard this time, and as a result, recording your first victory in a local competition. Looking back, what do you remember of the experience, and what kind of personal sentiment does the song hold?
I remember this episode very well. I was very young – 17 years old – and when my name was called out I was simply incredulous and ever so happy. That year, ‘Hawn Jien’ managed to gain full marks from all the judges in the panel and this was something extraordinary for me, especially because the subject of the song was so controversial and daring. There is an interesting episode attached to this song in that when I performed it during the festival, my microphone was not working for the first half of the song.
Panic-struck and inexperienced I stood still on stage for what seemed like a lifetime, until someone told me that I had to get off the stage and they will let me know whether I would have the chance to sing it again. Needless to say, I was given another chance to sing it and thank God for that! The song means a lot to me, especially due to the fact that winning the festival gave me the encouragement I needed to keep writing my own music in Maltese.
Your debut album, also titled Hawn Jien, has been described as a true work of art by many, representing several social themes which had yet to be explored, whilst representing the best that the Maltese language is known to offer. Where did your love of the language start, and do you have any more material lined up for the future?
As a child, I read a lot of books in Maltese and was fascinated by Maltese poetry. Maltese literature exams were pretty easy for me as I knew most poems by heart and could quote them off the top of my head. I started writing poetry when I was still at Sixth Form – in fact I have quite a bulky collection of poems from that time – and then I started putting them to music. Of course my journey as a singer-songwriter has only just begun. I do have a lot of songs still waiting to be published and, of course, many more in my head waiting to be put down to pen and paper.
As an artist, you have not only maintained a professional standing through L-Għanja tal-Poplu, but have also managed to get through to the live phase of the Malta Eurovision Song Contest on 4 occasions, including just last November with one of your own compositions, Secretly. What kind of feeling does it evoke, knowing that Europe is watching, listening and judging your song, and would you do anything differently due to the end result?
I must say that Eurovision is a great experience every year but it doesn’t move me in the same way my music in Maltese does. That’s the truth.
You are the undisputed queen of L-Għanja tal-Poplu, having taken part on 5 different occasions, and successfully coming out on top on three occasions; in 2006 with Hawn Jien, in 2009 with Tal-Aħħar and in 2010 with Mill-Għajnejn ta’ Tifla. Do you have a favourite out of the 3 winning entries, and will you be one of the artists putting forward an entry for the 2015 edition of L-Għanja tal-Poplu?
Well, my favourite entry was ‘Illejla B’Xejn’ for which I was awarded ‘Best Interpretation’ but not a placing. To be honest with you, I have considered entering this year’s festival, especially because I have written a very powerful piece of music which I think is very siuted for the festival. However, having thought over it well, I believe it best to allow space for other emerging artists in the festival and be present in support to them.
Would you like to say anything to our readers at escflashmalta.com?
I have just released the second edition of my debut album of original songs in Maltese; ‘Hawn Jien’. This version includes two brand new tracks (13 in all). For more information please contact me on [email protected]. Finally, I have no words to thank all those who are supporting me in my career and who have made my music, their own.