'Live Young Forever' composer in Doha
We catch up with singer Yousuf Younnus Al Blushi Discuss this article
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We catch up with Yousuf Younnus Al Blushi, the composer and singer behind ‘Live Young Forever’, the first Qatar national song in English that was the unofficial theme song for National Day last month. We find out how the Qatari singer got started, how he makes music, and why he’s doing it in English.
How did you get started singing and composing?
In 2010 I was introduced to Labbayk (an acapella band based in the UK who sing Islamically inspired songs) during a live performance in Qatar. Masum (lead singer of the Labbayk Band) began coaching me in singing. We recorded a few tracks as drafts. I had in my mind to sing something for Qatar but as a beginner I was too hesitant to try anything that would or could reach public domain. I was away from singing for almost a year.
What inspired ‘Live Young Forever’?
In late 2011 I was working as a freelance PR Researcher for Fanar. Fanar had assigned me to get a song done for Qatar in English language. I proposed that I could sing that song! I always wanted to sing a song for Qatar in English, so why not sing it now? But what really inspired me is that while I was living in the UK for my higher studies, I really missed Qatar and a lot of good things about Qatar. When I kept myself far away from Qatar, it was only then I understood what Qatar meant to me. So all my lyrics in this song are simple expressions of feelings about Qatar
Why do it in English?
English today is an international language. It’s spoken or heard by many. This song will certainly reach out to many people because it is in English, but if I had sung the whole song in Arabic then it would have been kept or contained within the Arab world. And Qatar has a huge expat population who may share my or any local’s feeling about Qatar: my song in English would make them feel that we have not excluded them. They are with us and we all are with Qatar.
What message do you want people to take from it?
Qatar should not be seen just as an oil producer, rich country, global business investors etc. Through this song we wanted to share our cultural, moral and social values. We want to show we are people who value honor, project peace, love and respect in our daily lives. The attributes and good characters I have mentioned in my song are something that we all should idealize in our lives, Qataris and Non Qataris alike.
‘Live Young Forever’ is in English but it has a certain Qatari feel to it—how did you manage this? Why? Was it difficult to combine the two?
I think it is because of the traditional Arabic chant in the beginning. And the instrument we used in the song. The instrument is called duff, it’s like a tambourine but not a tambourine. It just doesn’t have the jingles at its edges. The duff is and was used generally in khaleeji songs.
What sort of response have you gotten? From Expats? From Qataris?
Most of the Qataris loved the song. But their common feedback was that I should have added more Arabic to it. They said it’s a very catchy tune. The expats showed a very good response and I think they constitute the highest number of listeners or viewers for this song. A British expat in Qatar sent us an email a couple of days ago saying that she personally was touched with this song. And this song made her feel that Qatar surely is welcoming and respectful to others. The majority of response from outside Qatar was that the viewers wanted to visit Qatar!
It’s super peppy! We’ve had it in our heads for weeks. . .
Super peppy, I like that! I think it’s because I like singing energetic songs. And while composing this song I had planned to give it this young feeling. So we only went forward to finishing this song once we felt the song was sounding energetic.
What’s your guilty pleasure music?
Very good question! I like listening to the covers of hit or popular songs. I like listening to those covers from ordinary people and some cover singers are so amazing that they later grow up to have their own concerts, like Boyce Avenue.
Yousuf Younnus Al Blushi has a new album coming out this year, as well as plans for performances throughout Qatar. Check out www.yousufyounus.com or more information and to hear the song.
Time Out Doha,