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Album Review

Across the pond in 2006, those tastemaking Brits just couldn't get enough of "You Want Me," the fiery and exotic debut track from Chantal Chamandy that would ultimately become part of the Egyptian born (of Lebanese and Greek descent), Montreal raised singer's ultra-sensuous, explosively romantic debut Beladi. A powerful remix of the song by Brian Rawlings (Cher's "Believe") burned up the dancefloors in London and hit number four on Music Week's Upfront Club Chart. The video, shot in Morocco, received heavy airplay on London's MTV and The Box, that city's equivalent to VH-1. Despite all of this success throughout the U.K., the song, like the singer herself, is truly an international, multi-cultural affair. Its English lyrics are complemented by passages in French, her first language. Musically, the driving, sweeping textures of "You Want Me" and the other 13 tracks on Beladi capture exciting elements of all the styles she was influenced by — Latin (the collection features the lush guitar work of former Gipsy Kings member Chico Castillo), Indian (her musical partner Subir Dev hails from Bangladesh), and Middle Eastern. Chamandy is fiercely loyal to her personal lyrics, conveying the expressions at hand much like an emotive interpreter. Her dedication to the importance of love and happiness in human relationships extends to "Ask Chantal," an advice to the lovelorn column she has written on her website. She reveals waves of vulnerability and elation, loss and conviction, love and desire, all with the wisdom that derives from her being a devoted wife, mother, daughter, and lastly, a strong woman whose wanderlust has led her to the far corners of the earth, both spiritually and physically. While "You Want Me" is best known for its propulsive rhythms and sweeping exotica, its lyrics about a woman coming into a relationship from a position of strength are meant to empower people who have been hurt in relationships. "Crazy," featuring various passages in French, is about the joys of giving up playing the field when you've found your true soulmate. The tender ballad "Feels Like Love" reflects on the idea that if it's real, it shouldn't be complicated, while "Peace" is dedicated to her young son, Harley. Two of the songs feature foreign language titles: "Zindegi," which means "life" in an Indian language, is based on a real person's heart wrenching decision to rebel against her parents and reject an arranged marriage in favor of being with her true love. The closer "Salma Ya Salama" is Chantal's half-French, half-Arabic-language rendition of a traditional Arabian song. In conjunction with the release of this infinitely exotic and appealing debut, Chamandy also released her historic DVD Beladi: A Night at the Pyramids; in 2007, she became the first person ever granted permission by the Egyptian ministry to perform and film a concert at the base of the Pyramids' Great Sphinx. Broadcast in the U.S. on PBS stations nationwide, the concert features the singer backed by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and dancers that include Canadians, Egyptian "tanoura" dancers, and Ahmed Nabil, the principal dancer of the Cairo Opera House Ballet Company.

Biography

Born: Alexandria, Egypt

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Though she was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to an Egyptian/Greek father and Lebenese mother, Chantal Chamandy spent most of her life in Montreal, Canada, where her family moved when she was a young girl. She was signed to a record label at 16, but things never quite worked out. However, the singer and pianist continued to write her own music and pursue her career, finally finding an ally in Ninemuse Records, which released her debut album, Love Needs You, which featured lyrics in English, French,...
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Top Albums and Songs by Chantal Chamandy

Beladi, Chantal Chamandy
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