Nesma Elshazly releases yet another new hit with CairoKee by the UNAIDS. Being a fan of her unconventional words, we couldn’t miss this golden chance to let everyone know the superwoman behind these words and great ideas.
Your songs speak out, that there’s a story behind each word you write. What is your story?
I can say that I am a mother of 2, happily married, and a human being. My parents were both into music and I shared my passion for music with my youngest brother. There was a turning point in my life though; 5 years ago to be exact, I lost my dearest young brother in a car accident. He was the closest to me. And his death was very traumatic. That day my life turned upside down. I used to be a very optimistic person who inspires everyone around. Suddenly all of that stopped. I lost interest in life and wasn’t looking forward to anything. Having something to look forward to always fuels me. So basically my life stopped. I wasn’t able to handle my son or take care of my husband. I couldn’t sleep, and when waking up the first thought that would come to my mind was that my brother is dead. I had panic attacks. And I was losing myself within. I felt that I’m not allowed to be happy. I had to continue grieving. And I stayed in this phase for a year and a half. And around the year he died, there were so many similar losses. At first, I surrendered to grief. I lived it all. I didn’t go to therapy. I was a writer. I stopped writing.
But then I needed to vent. And writing was my only way to do so. So I wrote an article titled “Dealing with the loss of a loved one“. In this article, I let out everything and explained all that I’ve been through. I said that it’s okay to grieve, to be quiet, to talk about those who you’d lost as much as you want, and to do whatever comforts you. The main morale behind that article was me sending a message to everyone to tell the people they love that they do love them before it’s too late. After this article was published, a lot of people connected to me. I felt that I’m not alone and wanted to tell everyone that they’re not alone. Then I felt that I can write more to help more people and let them know that we share the same feelings. Then writing became my own therapy.
This, later on, led me to start songwriting. What happened exactly is that Hesham Kharma was working on an unconventional project, so I applied, since it was in line with my ethics, background, and beliefs. And I got to work with him. I then started to realize that God has a greater plan for me and I could see that light at the end of the tunnel. Everything makes perfect sense for me now. And I feel that my brother would’ve been very proud if he was still alive.
When did you discover your passion for songwriting?
I have had a passion for music since I was 3. My parents were so passionate about music and I was brought up knowing a lot about music and different genres. I used to write lyrics when I was younger and I secretly wanted to work in the music industry, but I didn’t think it’s possible.
How did you get to where you are now?
I wasn’t a songwriter when I started working with Hisham Kharma. I actually was an executive producer of Kharma’s live performances, and this is actually my main job. I’m responsible for every single detail of the show behind the scene – I basically put a whole show together. Songwriting came by coincidence when Kharma told me I want you to give it a shot, although he knew that I didn’t have any previous experience in that. Ironically enough, it was a song about happiness, when I was coming from a very dark experience. It was Sahla w Basita and it came out very inspirational, but what people don’t know is that it was inspired by my brother. After that, I thought it might be a one-time thing, or a one hit wonder. I was still writing though, as a freelancer. Then opportunities of songwriting came following one another. I felt that my words affect a lot of people. It was the most fulfilling thing that I have felt and did. I took an oath, that I want to write for good causes. Songs that live and touch peoples’ lives. And since then, I have been having a serious of collaborations that I haven’t imagined that I’d be a part in. I felt that I can finally make a difference. I’m paying it forward; I want to help people with the songs I write, whether through raising donations through a song, empowering someone, giving a moral to someone, etc. Even if the difference is small, but there’s a difference that I made in someone’s life and that’s the most rewarding thing for me.
Where do you find the inspiration to come up with such deep song ideas?
Real stories and real people inspire me most. All the songs I’ve written, where inspired by something that personally touched me, so I turned them into lyrics. In fact, I don’t know how to write a song, unless I’m personally relating to it as a human being.
Your songs ideas are different. Why did you choose to go against the ordinary?
In fact, I didn’t choose to go against the ordinary. It happened by coincidence when Hesham Kharma asked me to give songwriting a shot. But coming from a conservative background to some extent, I feel that this style is the one that suits me. And I’m thankful for being where I am today; I’m working in the music industry, the thing that I was most passionate about, and I didn’t have to go out of my way and character to fit in.
How powerful are music and words in affecting people’s emotions?
They’re actually extremely powerful. A song you can relate to can change your mood entirely. Music is an unspoken language. Never underestimate the power of music and lyrics. Sahla w Basita was a song a lot of people could relate to and used to say good morning to each other through on the radio. People used to quote Shoof B’albak on social media. To see that, it was more than enough for me.
How do you manage a challenging career life, being a mom and a wife?
It’s extremely challenging. It’s a day-to-day battle. And honestly, I couldn’t have managed it without my family support, especially my mother, husband, and mother-in-law. They look after my children when I’m away. And the fact that my husband is so supportive and giving me that space to follow my dreams, makes me very grateful and thankful. And I try to be less hard on myself, as I look at the bigger picture and I know that part of fulfilling your dreams and goals career-wise and being passionate about it, helps you become a more balanced human being, hence a more balanced mother, wife, and daughter.
Your words are really very inspirational. What is your message to our readers?
Never be afraid to take a risk; put yourself out there. Follow your passion and be very aware that dreams do come true, but don’t let your ego come in the way. When you reach success stay humble and be reminded that success doesn’t come easily; you have to work hard and face challenges in order to reach what you want to reach. And I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my dad who always reminds me to keep my feet on the ground and that success comes and goes. Lastly, there’s always room for evolvement and development. You have to invest in yourself and be reminded that you have no peak, wherever you reached, you have to work harder and more on yourself.
Tell us about your newest collaboration with UNAIDS and CairoKee “Know. Understand. Don’t Stigmatize.”
I was fortunate enough to be chosen by the UNAIDS to be part of a song, collaborating with CairoKee, that I do admire and respect, despite being childhood friends. The song, “No2ta Beida” (A Drop Of White), is based on a true story of a mother and her son who were infected by HIV/AIDS, a disease that is considered a taboo in Egypt, without even knowing it. Coming together with CairoKee for a controversial cause like this is a challenge yet an eye-opening opportunity, as I learned so many facts about the disease and how it’s being misperceived as a taboo, and I want to change this image and help people know the real facts about it, though a song that’s inspired by real people.
Here you go, a dose of inspiration that would keep us fueled for weeks. And the cherry on top is that NesmaxCairoKee’s latest song is out, check it out here. And to know more about Nesma’s latest releases, follow her on Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Photo credit: Ayman Nassar