Join me on my life’s journey and explore my everlasting passion for the arts and music. Together, we can enter this world and you’ll discover intricate details of my background and the small elements that when added up, form my career up to the present. It’s with sincere hope that this will give you a chance to know me better. In case you have additional questions, send me an e-mail and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
ELISSA—Biography and Career
Elissa was born in Deir Al-Ahmar and raised in Bekaa Valley, a land known for its fertile landscape and infamous history.
At the tender age of 10, Elissa began participating in social events and had a role in the kids’ festival at Mont la Salle, which was hosted by Sandy Oshakji. As she grew up, her passion developed and she grew more and more involved in the art scene by acting in theater plays, namely with well-known songwriter Wassim Tabbara and later, with the “Théâtre de 10 Heures”. Having studied Political Science at the Lebanese University, she had a natural knack for her first play’s tendency for political critique, and her talent, though in its infancy, left a lasting impressing on that initial audience.
Her theatrical beginnings opened way for her to experiment with other modes of expression and soon found herself singing in front of audiences. In 1992, she participated and won a Silver Medal in “Studio Al Fan”. The show was broadcasted on LBCI, one of the most renowned TV stations in the Middle East. Following this gentle, yet encouraging success, Elissa began performing in concerts, driven by her tireless determination until 1999, when Lido Productions released her first album, “Baddy Doub”, distributed by EMI. Elissa’s debut on the commercial music scene was an event of considerable significance. The album was a success, and featured a smash hit with famous French gypsy artist, Gerard Ferrer. The release of “Baddy Doub” brought the musical talent straight to Cannes, where she participated in the International Music Festival of 2000.
Following her success at the International Music Festival, Elissa released her second album, “We Akhertha Maak”, which included the immense hit duet, “Betghib Betrouh”, sung with Lebanese superstar Ragheb Alama. The emerging singer’s third album, “Ayshalak”, was also quite successful and its musical quality was considered a big leap forward in her music career. In the making of “Ayshalak”, Elissa took advantage of the significant momentum gained during her previous two albums and managed to surpass expectations at an amazing rate. The video clip of the album’s hit single and namesake was filmed in Paris, directed by acclaimed French director Fabrice Begotti. Elissa was officially dressed and made up by Christian Dior Paris for the video, marking the first time Dior collaborated with an Arabic artist.
Hot on the heels of the well-received third album, Elissa continued her fiery path and sent shock waves through the music scene when she teamed up with the world-famous Irish singer Chris De Burgh. The collaboration of these two talents resulted in the historic duet, “Lebanese Nights”. The hit song was included on De Burgh’s 2002 album, “Time is Everything”.
2002 brought Elissa more consecration as she was awarded with the Murex d’Or award for Best Female Artist. And her, “Ajmal Ihsas” clip won the best video clip at the Arabic Music Awards, which took place in Dubai. To top off an outstandingly successful and memorable year, Elissa was also included in the anthology book, “100 Pioneers of Lebanon”. The singer was celebrated alongside artists such as Fairuz, Wadih El-Safi, and many other celebrities who have left their everlasting mark on the Lebanese cultural, political and social landscape.
Elissa’s fourth album, “Ahla Donia”, recorded with Super Audio System, was released in May 2004. It broke record sales around the Middle East and the beloved artist won the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle East Artist. As a result, Elissa was recognized as the first Lebanese to win the award and went on to win the Murex d’Or for not only Best Lebanese Singer, but also Best Video Clip for her hit song, “Hobak Wajaa”.
At the time, the technique of using Super Audio was the latest innovation in sound technology and it was the first time a Middle Eastern artist used such superior sound technology. Artists who had previously relied on the Super Audio System included: Sting, Andrea Bocelli and Pink Floyd.
Elissa’s fifth album, “Bastanak”, confirmed her status as one of the best female musicians emerging from the Middle East as she reined in yet another World Music Award for Best Selling Middle East Artist. International photographer Mathias Clamer, who also worked on Elissa’s previous album, did the CD’s photo-shoot.
Elissa’s sixth and seventh albums, “Ayami Beek” (December 20, 2007), which reached number one for more than three months and remains in the charts today, and “Tesadaa Bemeen” (December 26, 2009), continued the singer’s success and officially marked her as an unforgettable idol in prominent music history.
Nearly two weeks after “Tesadaa Bemeen’s” release, the album immediately became the best selling album in the history of Rotana, as well as the most successful in Elissa’s career. The widely well-received album skyrocketed to the number one spot as it sold record quantities in Lebanon, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and the rest of the Middle East.
“Tesadaa Bemeen” was Elissa’s album that received the most awards and compensation. In the eyes of her fans and the music industry, Elissa’s new release was far from disappointing, and reached the number one spot in France’s largest music store, Fnac, in the Musique du Monde section. Elissa received her third World Music Award Big Apple Award, Jordan Music Award, Middle East Music Award and many others for “Tesadaa Bemeen”.
“Tesadaa Bemeen” includes thirteen songs between Lebanese and Egyptian dialects created from Elissa’s numerous collaborations with a handful of renowned writers, composers and music arrangers. For the album’s glamorous artwork, international photographer Matthias Clamer photographed Elissa on location at Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal.
The singer has surpassed expectations and risen above the rest of her generation’s talented celebrities, achieving full-fledged star-status. Elissa is more than just a shooting star; she’s a monumental icon whose mark on the Lebanese, Middle Eastern and international commercial music scene will undoubtedly push boundaries and stand the test of time.
Elissa is passionate about her work and remains truly inspired by her audience. This everlasting passion shines through in her many notable events. Since the first album, “Baddy Doub”, which was released in 1999 and brought her considerable success and a spot in the International Music Festival of Cannes in 2000, Elissa has been ever-gradually rising to the top.
In 2001, she took part in Jordan’s “Fiesta Latina”. She also performed at the great pyramids of Egypt with British luminary Sting. Additionally, she was the only Arabic artist to perform in front of former United States President Bill Clinton at the Stars Charity show in Dubai. She was among global idols like Queen Rania of Jordan and the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rachid El Maktoum.
In 2002, Elissa took the local music scene by storm when she sang with world-famous Irish singer Chris De Burgh. Their smash hit duet, “Lebanese Night” was written by De Burgh during a trip to Lebanon two years previous. The Irish wunderkind was inspired to write the song when he spent a starry evening dining at the famous restaurant Abdel Wahab. De Burgh chose Elissa as a partner to perform the magical song with him. The song was recorded and produced by Chris Porter, the legend responsible for a multitude of hits by international artists such as George Michael and Robbie Williams.
That year brought substantial success for Elissa, as she went on to win the Murex d’Or award for Best Female Artist. And without fail, 2002 ended just as prominently as it started when Elissa was called upon to inaugurate the opening of Kuwait’s Virgin Megastore with Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the famous stores. The opening of Virgin-Cairo followed the prestigious event in Kuwait. Her clip, “Ajmal Ihsas” won an Arabic Music Award for Best Video Clip in Dubai and Elissa’s long-winded, successful run continued into 2003, when she signed a deal with Pepsi.
The contract with Pepsi, a soda drink close to the singer’s heart, made Elissa the official female star for Pepsi in the Arab world. She filmed the advertisement for Pepsi X in Spain and in 2004 the singer filmed the regular Pepsi commercial advertisement in Rome with world-renowned director Roger Spottiswood. Subsequently, the Lebanese starlet shot two advertisements with American pop star Christina Aguilera for Pepsi for the World Football Cup and Downloaded. Both advertisements were shot in Los Angeles with prominent director Tarsem Singh.
In September 2003, Elissa was commissioned for a performance at the Hope Charity gala, which took place in the Royal Albert Hall, one of London ‘s most prestigious venues. Other artists that performed that night included Spanish dancer and choreographer Joaquin Cortes, Italian singer Zucchero, and British pop singer Sarah Brightman, making Elissa the sole representative of the Middle East. Further projects in 2004 included the Ray Ban campaign, while from 2005 to 2006 Elissa took on the Corum campaign, the LUX and then Vogue sunglasses. Elissa remains Ambassadress for Corum till today.
In 2005, Elissa received the World Music Awards for the sales of her unforgettable “Ahla Dounia” album for Best Selling Artist from the Middle East. The star-studded ceremony took place in Hollywood’s exalted Kodak Theater with the presence of notorious music icons including: Beyonce, Maria Carey, Usher, Santana, Bon Jovi and many others.
In December of 2005, Elissa received the Murex d’Or for Best Lebanese Artist and Best Video Clip for her hit classic, “Hobak Wajaa”.
On November 15, 2006, Elissa received the World Music Awards for the second year in a row for the sales of her “Bastanak” album. The ceremony took place in London’s Earls Court. Elissa was in the company of Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton, Beyonce, Andrea Bocelli and many other recognizable talents.
The Lebanese Music syndicate honored Elissa for her musical achievements and for being the first Lebanese artist to receive the World Music Awards two times running.
Elissa was also the ambassadress for the World Gold Council in collaboration with L’Azurde, effectively putting a beautiful image with one of the world’s most desirable metals
Subsequently, Elissa was chosen by French company Georges Stahl to create her own perfume in 2007. The fragrance “Elle d’Elissa” was created, marking yet again another first: The first international perfume for an Arab artist. Elissa’s first perfume was followed by a second essence, “L’Eau d’Elissa”.
On August 9, 2007 she performed at the prestigious Sporting Club in Monaco. While in 2008, Elissa became the ambassadress for Samsung Mobiles.
In 2008, the singer was included in Arabian Business Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Business Women list, for the second consecutive year. She was also part of the 500 of World’s Most Influential Arabs list.
Since then, Elissa has created a very powerful image for herself forcing a place for her in the spotlight. The artist is also endlessly desired and sought for by all prestigious brands.
Elissa received her third World Music Awards in Monaco on May 23, 2010 for her album “Tesadaa Bemeen” for Best Selling Artist from the Middle East.
In June 2010, Elissa received her third Murex d’Or as Best Lebanese Female Artist.
In November 2010, she was awarded for Best Arab Female Artist in the Jordan Music Awards, which took place on Amman’s Dead Sea shore, and a few days later she received the Big Apple Music Award for Best Female Artist in the Middle East (This award is an international one based in New York), the Middle East Music Award and received 4 awards from the Student celebrity awards.
In March 2011, Elissa became a goodwill Ambassador for IMSAM, an intergovernmental organization under the United Nations based at U.N Headquarters in New York. She resigned in 2012.
Esquire Magazine named Elissa “Woman We Love” in 2011. It was an important moment as it was the first time Esquire had chosen Elissa out of their Middle East line-up.
To top off all these achievements, she was voted in the Arabian Business Magazine as one of the 100 Most Powerful Arab Business Women in 2012 and the 500 Most Influential Arabs.
Her eighth studio album “Asaad Wahda” released in June 2012 was number one for the first two months in all the Middle East charts and is still in the top 5 till now, with the release of the first Video Clip in January for the title song “Asaad Wahda”.
In December 2012, Elissa was chosen to be one of the Judges of the X Factor Middle East; it was on air the first 4 months of 2013.
On the 23rd of June 2013 Elissa received two Murex D’or, for the best Lebanese singer and Best Arabic song “Asaad Wahda”. This prestigious event, considered as one of the biggest celebrations of the TV industry in the Arab World, took place at the Casino Du Liban with the presence of many local and international artists.
On 21 November 2013 Elissa received the BIAF Award ( Beirut International Award festival) as an appreciation for her successful career as a Lebanese artist.