“When people get to know each other, they realise that underneath it all, we are humans. Peace will eventually come from people, not from politics” – Lina
Lina made history in 2013 as the first Arab to win Israel’s biggest TV Talent show, The Voice; having impressed the judges, and secured a storming victory with the people’s vote, her fate was decided. “I’ve always loved music and art”, she begins, “but before The Voice, I was a first year biology student. I also volunteered at the Red Cross Organization for 5 years and loved everything about saving people’s lives. If I wasn’t an artist, I would have probably been a doctor. Stage always felt like home though, and the first time I realised I wanted to make a career in music was while being at concert and feeling like my body and soul had met. It was an amazing feeling, and that day I told myself… ‘that’s what you’re going to do till the day you die'”.
The American-Palestinian is fluent in five languages, and yes, this does cross over into her music; “I was born in the States, so English came naturally to me”, she adds, “Arabic, for being Palestinian. Hebrew, for living in Israel. Spanish, from Telenovelas that I watched since the age of four. And Italian, from school. It’s a great advantage that I can bring a lot of culture to my music”. As an international artist, who sings in English, often her thoughts are in her first language. “My first language is Arabic, so obviously I think in Arabic most of the time. For example, when I first heard the song ‘Holy War’ by Alicia Keys, I felt so connected to it that I had to write some Arabic lyrics to it. I felt it in my bones, and I think Alicia did too since she shared my video all over her social media…”
Dramatic, colourful and inspiring. Leena Makhoul, proves that when you have charisma, determination and talent, music is a worldwide language that can break down seemingly impossible barriers between people and cultures. After the success of her first single, ‘This Ain’t About You’, her second single ‘Dance Sucker’ followed as an infectious fusion of power and vibrance that is a reflection of multi-cultural roots; and while she didn’t write ‘This Ain’t About You’, when her manager played it for the first time she “loved its vibes, its coolness and how danceable and catchy it was”. Today her latest single, ‘Can’t Keep Falling’ (available via Spotify), is released which she co-wrote with Maegan Cottone and Knightstarr. “It’s the perfect pop song”, she says excitedly, “it just won’t get out of your head! I’ve had so much fun writing, recording, and shooting the video. You should check it out!”
Speaking of fun, wasn’t Lina asked to open for Queen and Adam Lambert in 2016? “Before going on stage I almost peed in my pants! Literally!” she remembers. “I was shaking! But the moment I went on stage, felt the energy from the crowd and realised that 57,000 people were singing along with me, I felt like walking on air”. With her. WITH. HER. At a Queen concert. “It is a very special feeling that is so hard to describe, like, my whole body was electrified”.
“A typical day?!” Lina exclaimed as I asked her if there was any kind of normality to her schedule. “I don’t think I’ve had a typical day in the past 4 years! Every day has been an adventure, and I enjoy every moment of it. It’s an exciting and amazing profession for those who love, live and breathe music. Of course, you must work very very hard to succeed, but the results are super rewarding”.
Pausing for a moment to reflect, she adds, “My parents were and still are the best parents in the world. They supported every choice I made as long as I wasn’t ruining my life with it. I took dancing lessons for 10 years, piano for 5 years… basketball, swimming, singing, volunteering. I’ve done it all, and they’ve always been my biggest fans!”
“I believe that music is a worldwide language that can connect all souls together”, Lina continues as she notes upon why it’s important to her that we, as the listener, can hear her ethnic roots within her music. “In fact, being a Palestinian who won The Voice Israel with the people’s vote, is solid proof that music can actually make a change. I think we artists have a great privilege to be able to do what we love, to sing and perform all over the world. People buy tickets to hear us singing, support us everywhere we go, show us endless love and appreciation. The least we can do in return is to give them an authentic image of ourselves and open our hearts for them… I do pop music, and my album is very pop orientated, in English. As for the ethnic roots, I always bring the flavour of this because that’s my voice and sound. It’s important to me that people love my music and feel connected to the person that I am”.
It’s not uncommon for someone to have a hidden talent, Lina’s is drawing; “There’s very few people that know about this. I have a sketchbook in hand everywhere I go. Sometimes you don’t find the words to describe a feeling, or a piano to write some music on. But, you can always silently draw without anyone paying attention to you”. And if there’s one thing she can’t live without, it’s hope; “Every time I go through a hard time or face a difficulty, hope always helps me and makes it feel like it’s just one more step towards fulfilling my dreams. It makes everything feel easier. It’s my strongest weapon. Never compromise on music and style”.
‘Can’t Keep Falling’ is out now, via Spotify