It's music myth. Girl is an aspiring singer. Girl gathers her courage and sings in front of international pop star. Pop star invites girl to sing on stage. Girl gets a recording contract. The rest is history. Music myth is actual music reality for Dubai-based singer and songwriter Esther Eden. Although it wasn't as easy as it sounds (nerves do get in the way), Esther Eden just scored a recording contract with international music label, Universal Music. And since then, all eyes have been on the young singer.
Originally from Goa, India, the singer and songwriter had a passion for dancing and performance at a young age. Esther Eden started performing in musicals such as Annie, High School Musical, and Hairspray at the Madinat Jumeirah Theater and DUCTAC. Then on her 12th birthday, her father gifted her a guitar which lead her to start singing. It came as no surprise to her mother Amber Fernandes that her daughter could sing. She herself was a jazz singer and had always encouraged her daughter's passion for performing.
Those who have seen the seventeen-year-old perform on her YouTube channel and during open mic nights around Dubai and Abu Dhabi, will agree that Esther Eden has a feminine, soulful sound, a calming voice that beautifully tells a story. Even when we met her, Esther Eden appeared delicate and shy on first impression. As soon as we started talking about music though, her eyes lit up and she expressed herself with a calm passion and maturity that was surprising for someone almost at the end of her high school education.
However, talent and passion aren't enough to make it in the music industry. Especially in Dubai when the music industry is still trying to stand on its own two feet. What we quickly learned from sitting down with Esther Eden is that she has more than a sweet voice and a way with lyrics. The girl has tenacity.
When international pop star Jessie J was performing at Esther Eden's school, the aspiring singer convinced the Radio DJ to let her sing an original song in front of Jessie J. After 'literally begging' him, he told her she had 10 seconds.
"I was quite nervous but as soon as I reached the chorus of my song she (Jessie J) was like, 'can you please stop and start again so I can record on my phone?' I stared to sing the whole song all over again and after I finished singing she was like, 'would you like to come sing in the Redfest?' and I was like, 'yeah sure!' But all that was going through my head was 'will my mum let me do that?' Within five hours I was performing in front of 10,000 people."
Since then, Esther Eden got to work. With a handful of her own original songs she managed to score a recording contract with Universal Music and we are expecting to hear the first single from her new album in January. Esther Eden sat with City Times at Alserkal Avenue's A4, where she'd performed before, and spoke to us about her musical aspirations and how she dealt with cyber bullying.
Are you more of a songwriter or a singer?
I'm both to be honest. I can't say I'm more into song writing or more into singing. It's just that I like making people happy when I sing and through my song writing I like to express what I feel. So whenever I do write my music, I write based on personal experiences. But I think a lot of people can relate to it. I think that's where I get a connection with the audience.
How did you know music was the career path you wanted to pursue?
When I first got into singing, I started listening to Ed Sheeran and that's kind of what got me into music and when I started playing the guitar and started singing. Then in 2014, Jessie J came to our school and when she heard me sing my original song and asked me to sing in the Redfest that's what actually gave me a push to start and continue song writing and singing.
How did it feel performing with Jessie J?
When I was performing in front of Jessie J in my school I was really nervous but then when I performed in front of 10,000 people, I wasn't too nervous cause I felt that I had Jessie J on my side. I had her believe in me, so it was just a great experience.
Then I started writing more and I had quite a few songs. I have a little book where I write all my songs.
How's it going with Universal Music now and working on your first album?
I mean it's kind of scary cause you're releasing your first single and that's when everyone is going to listen to it and have their first impression of you. So we are trying decide which is the best one. But hopefully people will like it. I think I get a lot of creative freedom.
I've been exposed to a lot of genres of music, so I'm open to any kind of music. The thing with Universal is that they are trying to make sure that I stay true to myself. They are my original songs, they are my words, I'm not changing anything about that.
Who are some of the musicians that you enjoy listening to and have influenced your style?
My mum used to be a jazz singer so I've listed to a lot of jazz artists like Nina Simone, Ray Charles. Then I have artists from now, like Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Amy Winehouse, Jessie J and I like Michael Bublé too.
What do you like about performing live?
I just like interacting with the audience. I like the fact that people enjoy my music and people smile and it makes them happy. And that's one thing I love, I love making people happy.
Do you ever get nervous before a performance?
Always. Every single time before I sing, I'm panicking and I'm all over the place. I think I'm forgetting my words, but as soon as I get on stage it's all gone. I just sing and sometimes I don't even know what I'm singing but it just comes to me.
Have you faced any major obstacles since you've started to pursue music seriously?
When it comes to my music, there will be some people who will try to put you down 'like maybe you didn't deserve it, someone else did,' but then you just have to always look at the good side and the brighter side and follow that.
Are you talking about negative feedback online?
Yes. I don't know if sometimes people are just bored or they actually don't like my music. If they have constructive criticism, I'd say yes thank you and I'd consider it. There are some people who just comment because they want to comment.
But there are also some who would say something bad but they would also tell you how to improve and that's what I like, because I want to improve.
And how do you deal with people who comment negatively?
I just smile and put a smiling emoji (laughs). I used to get cyber bullied and I wrote a song about it. I deal with it through my music.
Do you plan to continue your education or focus on your music full time?
I'm going to go to college to study media to help in my music too. But my focus is to pursue music. My main goal is just to travel all over the world and sing in every single country. I love travelling and it will fulfill both of the things I like to do. And I love to meet new people.
What is your advice for people who want to get into the music industry here?
Make sure you love what you do. I mean don't get into it because, 'people are singing and I want to sing and it's something I want to do.'
If it's something you really want to do then you have to stick to it. And be passionate about it, practice, meet new people ask for advice and actually take their advice cause it twill help you and take you to where you need to get to.
By Maan Jalal
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