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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Noora Noor: The Scandinavian Queen of Soul

Written By: Nani Hapa—Neo soul singer Noora Noor is often referred to as the "Scandinavian Queen of Soul." Her first album Curious won Noora the Norwegian Hit Award for Best Female Artist. Noora's next album, All I Am, took a while to complete as Noora fell seriously ill and had to stop recording for two years while she was in and out of the hospital. Now healthy, Noora released her third album, Soul Deep, which was released this year. If you're a fan of the sounds of singers such as Laura Izibor, Alicia Keys, and Ledisi, or if you want to hear about an inspiring soul sister, make sure to read Noora's journey as told by her by clicking on the "Read More" link ...

At the age of five I was thrown on to the stage to perform at my local school in Dubai. Since then I've always loved being on stage, and the stage is where I was discovered and offered a record deal at the age of sixteen. Growing up, there was always music in our house. Anything from Aretha Franklin to Arabic folk music. My aunt had an amazing voice, but conformed to Muslim tradition and was never able to pursue a professional career. Luckily my parents have been supportive of my choices, but I still try to be respectful of my faith and family.

My father is from Somalia, but had to flee to the United Arabian Emirates when he was only seventeen. That's where he met my mother, who is also Somali, but born in Yemen. I was born in Dubai, and had a very happy childhood, but we were forced to move away when my father became ill and couldn't support us. Coincidence led us to Norway, which despite everything we'd heard and feared was both welcoming and warm.

Having three different languages and cultures to relate to by the age of seven wasn't always easy. And there were hard times, especially when my father returned to Somalia to fight in the civil war. But I prefer to think of my experiences, both good and bad, as an opportunity to learn and overcome. I chose Curious as my first album title because I feel that my curiosity and openness have taught me invaluable lessons, and have made me the person I am today.

I had a close working relationship with the StarGate team and Tim Blacksmith on the first album. As this was near to a starting point for both StarGate and me, we learned a lot from each other and managed to record an album I was very happy with.

After a couple of Norwegian tours I got a role as Maria in Jesus Christ Superstar from the director Bentein Baardsson. It was a great experience and was performed outside in great surroundings of Agder Theatre's stage in Grimstad. Doing a musical and having to sing everyday rain or shine taught me some good lessons on the use of the vocal chords. When recording a second album I wanted to have more control of the writing process on my own. The songs on All I Am were written by me in collaboration with some great songwriters in US and UK who I really have been thrilled working with. All I Am was a steppingstone for me into writing my own material and being more confident in my own writing. My third album is very much in process now. This time I have written all the music by myself. I have been collaborating with a lot of talented Norwegians in this process, Tommy Tee, Johnny and Kim from DSound, Hittesh, my own band and Magnus Beite at Espionage have all been participating in parts of this new album.

Noora is my real name, it's Arabic and means "God's light"—a guiding light or beacon to help you along. Hopefully my music can bring some light and happiness into peoples lives in spite of sadness, surrounding threats of violence, terror, racism or even just too much stress in peoples lives.

Hear Noora's music by visiting her official website: or Noora's MySpace:

(Photo Credits: Morten Krogvold)


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