Arts & Culture

Mirelle Mokhtar: From Afro Mountain Girl to Viral Stardom

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Mirelle Mokhtar: From Afro Mountain Girl to Viral Stardom

Still from Mirelle Mokhtar’s (afromountaingirl) viral video of her cover of ‘La Bidayi Wala Nihayi’

“Let me tell you, I was super hesitant to post my first video. Every single time I posted a video, my heart would beat out my chest,” exclaims 27-year-old Mirelle Mokhtar, a young Egyptian singer who quickly shot to fame after one of her Instagram videos of her singing went viral.

“My whole life I’ve been singing,” explains Mokhtar as to how she got into singing in the first place, “I remember so well, the first time that I ever sang a full song was in the second grade. It was “Yesterday” by The Beatles.” Although singing has always been an inherent part of her life, it wasn’t until her college years that Mokhtar really decided to delve deeper into this passion of hers.

A social media induced push to fame

Sitting atop a mountain, a lush green landscape acts as her backdrop as this afro-haired girl’s voice delicately echoes through nature – she is singing Lebanese singer Hiba Tawaji’s beautifully aching La Bidayi, Wala Nihayi (No Beginning, No Ending). This is the very video that went viral and was a pivotal moment in Mokhtar’s life and music career, as well as turning afromountaingirl (Mokhtar’s Instagram handle) into a social media celebrity of sorts. 

Mirelle Mokhtar performing. Image courtesy of Mirelle Mokhtar Music’s Facebook page.

“Instagram had just launched, and a few months later, they added a new feature at the time, which was the 16 second videos,” Mokhtar recalls, when thinking about how social media played a huge role in her decision to share videos of herself singing.

“I started posting these videos because I loved singing more than anything. It was the best way for me to express myself, I had no other outlet and for me it was the closest thing to being heard,” she continues, “I kept posting in hopes that more people would hear me and eventually get discovered. At a point, I decided to stop posting because I didn’t see the point anymore, but a week later I posted the La Bidayi Wala Nihayi cover and it went viral – I genuinely did not expect for that to happen, but it did.”

Hiker with big hair turned singer: unfolding opportunities

Perhaps a subtle part of the reason as to why Mokhtar particularly stood out was also her overall ‘look’ and persona. Yes, she has a beautiful voice – but the fact that this afro-haired avid mountain hiker can also sing, is definitely something that is both unique and interesting.

Before diving deeper into singing, Mokhtar’s social media was all about her passion for hiking and mountain trekking. This seemingly free-spirited young woman shared her love of nature and being outdoors, so much so that it became a part of her very essence and identity.

When finally marrying her two passions together, recording videos of herself singing amidst nature’s majestic beauty, her viral stardom makes all the more sense.

Due to her perseverance in wanting to get heard and share her love of music and singing with the world, Mokhtar eventually caught the attention of Egyptian producer and musician Hisham Kharma.

“Music started to become more professional for me, and my dreams seemed to unfold little by little ever since,” explains Mokhtar. Kharma eventually got in contact with Mokhtar and they ended up recording a song together called Haleq Maa’y (Soar with Me), which following its release just three months ago, has already garnered over four million views on YouTube alone. 

Mirelle Mokhtar and Hisham Kharma in the official photo of their hit single ‘Haleq Maa’y’.Image courtesy of Mirelle Mokhtar Music’s Facebook page.

“It was an instant connection with Hisham Kharma, both musically and personally,” says Mokhtar, “The process of recording was both so much fun and nerve-racking. I wanted to nail it because Hisham believed so much in me. I’m thankful for him in so many ways.”

Mokhtar went on to tour with Kharma around Egypt – an experience she describes as a dream come true for me. Additionally, she has had numerous other wonderful opportunities unfold for her such as being commissioned to sing an operetta at the 2019 World Youth Forum’s opening ceremony.

Currently, she works as a radio host on Egypt’s widely known English radio channel, Nile FM. 

Mirelle Mokhtar mid-performance. Image courtesy of Mirelle Mokhtar Music’s Facebook page.

“I have a show called ‘Homegrown’ where I get to interview local Egyptian bands. It’s the perfect place for me because I’m constantly surrounded with what I love most, which is music,” commented Mokhtar on her new position at the radio station. 

In terms of what she sees for herself, the keen and bubbly Mokhtar says, “I’m hoping to be a creative for as long as I breathe. I’d like to work on an album and start touring – still a journey to go, but what is life if we don’t dream big, right?”

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A believer in all things art. Loves writing, acting, theatre and pretending to know how to cook.

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