Hamza Hawsawi
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Hamza Hawsawi

Jeddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | MAJOR

Jeddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 2008
Solo R&B Soul

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"Hamza Hawsawi’s amazing road to ‘X Factor’ glory"

June 17, 2015

Saudi Arabian singer won the Middle East version of the reality show, despite singing only in English.

It’s been a long road to the end of X Factor Arabia, but fourth season-winner Hamza Hawsawi is in no mood to rest.

“I finally slept properly for the first time last night,” the 24 year old from Jeddah said on Tuesday, two days after he was declared the winner of the Middle East version of the singing reality show. “But I don’t want to rest now. I’ve come so far. I’ve got so much to do, so many things I want to achieve.”

Hawsawi’s win came as a surprise to many: He only sang in English throughout the show, which was mostly in Arabic. And he was up against social media sensations, The 5, already defined as the Middle East’s breakout boy band, with their good looks, perfect hair and pan-Arab flavour. The band, comprised of members from across the region, came second, while Hind Ziadi from Morocco came third.

But the Saudi Arabian singer says his entire life had prepared him for that winning moment on Saturday night.

“Throughout my life I was told so many times that I would never make it, that I will never get far. I am an Arab from Saudi Arabia who sings in English, so the odds were against me,” he says. “But I have always believed in following your dreams and working towards them no matter what.

“Someone told me I am the first Arab to win an Arab show despite singing in English. And someone else said I am the first Saudi ever to win a singing reality show. That’s why this win is a big deal on so many levels.”

Raised by a single mother who died of cancer when he was just 17, Hawsawi says he learnt very early in life to fend for himself. At 18, he started working in a clothes shop selling suits to pay for his university.

“I have an aunt who raised my mother who also took care of me after my mother passed away. But after I graduated, I moved out to live with my cousin and had take care of myself, pay rent, pay off loans,” he says.

Hawsawi was working at a bank in Jeddah as a facilities manager when he decided to audition for X Factor Arabia earlier this year.

“Of all the reality singing shows, I thought it was the fairest, and thought it gave equal opportunities to all contestants, whether you were a soloist or in a group or younger or older. Also there was line in the flyer that said ‘language doesn’t matter’. That convinced me that I might have shot in this,” he recalls.

Created by music mogul Simon Cowell, The X Factor sees aspiring singers split into various categories where each group is mentored by a celebrity judge. Selected contestants then move on to the live shows where viewers vote for their favourite performers. Contestants with the lowest votes then get eliminated each week. The X Factor now has many international versions, with the Arab shows owned by MBC.

Following auditions in Jeddah, Hawsawi soon landed in Beirut for the live shows. It was after five weeks, he says, that he began to think he might actually have a shot at winning. He then quit his job at the bank and decided to give it his all.

“I only took 15 days off from work. I thought I could get up to the live shows, get people to see what I was capable of and that was enough,” he recalls. “But as we progressed and the votes kept coming in, I really wanted it to make it to the end. There I was on that stage, on that show, with this amazing opportunity. I just wanted to give it everything I got. So after I quit my job, it was all or nothing.”

Known as the nice guy throughout the show, Hawsawi says he thinks audiences warmed up to him because he was genuine.

“I was myself. I wanted to keep it real, for the audience to hear my story, know the real person I was. I think they saw that,” he says. “I didn’t want to pretend to be someone else on the biggest chance I had on the biggest network in the region.”

Hawsawi, whose mother was an English teacher, says he began to sing in the language when he was very young.

“I was always drawn to American shows and music. We used to have a VCR [videocassette recorder] and I’d watch these American films, pause them and try to imitate them. I was very fascinated with the language,” he says, adding that he counts Michael Jackson as his hero.

“He was all I listened to. I always thought Michael was someone from space, from another world. He was capable of doing things that no humans can do. It was because of him I started dreaming of one day doing things like him on stage.”

Hawsawi performed two of Jackson’s songs during the live shows.

With his win, Hawsawi receives a cash prize of 100,000 Saudi Riyals (Dh97,944), a chance to meet X Factor creator Cowell himself, and a recording contract with Sony Middle East.

Although he wouldn’t mind a few “nice new suits”, his biggest prize, he says, is the love and support he received from viewers throughout the competition.

“All the money will go away, contracts will end, but you cannot buy love and loyalty from people. That will not end. And I am so grateful for the votes and the faith that people had in me to take me far,” he says.

“My mentor Ragheb [Alama, the singer and judge], he believed in me from the start. He always challenged me, made me want to do better. Even up to the last second of the show, he had faith in me. He’d say, ‘You are in competition with yourself now. I am proud of you’. That really boosted my self confidence.”

Already working on his debut album, Hawsawi says he wants it to be an experience. “I want to give people something they’ve never heard of. I want to write my own songs, talking about my life and I want people to relate, and know that it came from the heart,” he says. “And it will be a mix of Arabic and English.”

Credit for his success, he says, goes to his late mother.

“She always said I have a beautiful natural voice and encouraged me to sing. But I thought she was just saying that because she was my mother,” he says, smiling. “I want to encourage every one to follow their dreams and not to listen to people who put them down. You only live once. You’ve got to live it the way you want.” - Gulf News


"Hamza Hawsawi is The X Factor Middle East’s latest winner"

June 14, 2015

After six months of preparation and nine weeks of live episodes, the fourth season of The X Factor Middle East ended with a winner who came as no surprise except to the man himself – Saudi Arabia’s Hamza Hawsawi.

The 24-year-old was so shocked when his name was called out that his jaw dropped. His mentor, Lebanese judge Ragheb Alama, then gave him a hug and lifted him off his feet, but it wasn’t until fellow contestants from boy band The 5 lifted him up on their shoulders and threw him into the air that Hawsawi’s grin lit up his face.

As soon as his friends and family crowded the stage and began congratulating him, he did what every winner can’t help doing: he cried.

“They say I won, but I don’t know. I am so happy and so excited, but I still can’t believe a thing,” said Hawsawi.

The man

Kind, generous and modest is how the other contestants describe the Saudi singer, who established a reputation as the good guy.

“I never, ever imagined that one day I would be standing here, waiting to take part in the finale,” Hawsawi had said ahead of his performance. “I lost my mum when I was 17, but she was the one who got me here, as if she could see my potential and my future, and I couldn’t see a thing. It has been so amazing.”

The performance

Hawsawi managed to outdo his flawless record with the three songs he performed on Saturday night. He easily hit every one of the high notes in Maroon 5’s Sugar, injecting a soulful, R&B flair to the pop song and making it his own. His exceptional performance drove judge Elissa to address two prominent personalities in the audience – Angela Eichhorst, ambassador of the European Union, and Tom Fletcher, the British ambassador – and ask them if they were proud to see such talent from the Arab world.

“Hamza is our ambassador,” she said. “We want the world to know: we don’t import terrorism – we only import talent like Hamza Hawsawi.”

Hawsawi also performed a duet with Alama, a mash-up of her hit Ohdonni Aktar and Justin Timberlake’s Suit & Tie. But the defining moment came when the Saudi, who has only ever sung in English on the show, shocked everyone by breaking into Arabic. Gasps rippled across the audience and Elissa and Donia Samir Ghanem erupted into spontaneous applause.

“Your Arabic singing was amazing,” said Ghanem, who a few weeks ago had asked to hear him sing in his native language.

“Singing in Arabic is not just [about] the language; there is a different scale and a different way,” said Alama. “Usually, those who sing Arabic find it hard to sing in English and those who sing in English cannot sing in Arabic ... Hamza surprised me so, so much. This guy just keeps amazing us.”

Hawsawi wrapped up the night with a moving, well-executed performance of John Legend’s All of Me, which received a standing ovation from the judges. Elissa’s words were on point: “Hamza, all I can say is, all of me loves all of you.”

The prize

Hawsawi walked away with 100,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (Dh98,000), a four-night VIP stay with Arab celebrities on the Stars on Board cruise run by MBC Group and Emirates Holidays, a visit to Sony Music headquarters to sign a record deal and, perhaps most important in kick-starting his career, a trip to London to visit The X Factor founder Simon Cowell. - The National


"Saudi Hamza Hawsawi wins ‘X Factor Arabia’"

June 14, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s 24-year-old Hamza Hawsawi took home the winning title of the fourth season of The X Factor Middle East on Saturday night.

The young artist seemed surprised when the results were announced by his mentor and judge, Lebanese superstar Ragheb Alama.

The much talented Hawsawi who sang in English throughout the show surprised fans on the program’s finale by singing a duet with Alama in Arabic.

He wrapped up the night with his performance of John Legend’s All of Me, leaving fans and judges alike in awe.

Hawsawi also won 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,663.5) and a ticket to visit The X Factor founder Simon Cowell.

The Arabic-version X Factor was broadcast on pan-Arab TV channel MBC, the parent company of Al Arabiya News. - Al Arabiya


"Hamza Hawsawi: on an X Factor mission to realise a dream that began with a mother’s smile"

May 26, 2015

If there’s one thing Hamza Hawsawi is now known for – even more than his incredible talent, his great dance moves or his soulful, smooth-as-honey voice – it’s his humility.

The 24-year-old Saudi Arabian singer has been a big hit on the popular TV talent competition The X Factor, in the international singing category mentored by judge Ragheb Alama.

Many viewers might assume that this is his first brush with fame, his first experience ­performing in front of millions.

That, however, is not the case. There’s been no mention of it on The X Factor so far, but Hawsawi’s stage name, Ayzee, has become well known in the region in recent years. Since his first performance in 2008, he has released several original songs, while his YouTube channel, AyzeeHausawi, features his recent releases, cover versions and his jamming sessions with ­local ­artists.

Last year, he teamed up with Saudi rapper Qusai, aka Don Legend, on the MBC programme Arabs Got Talent. When they performed their original song Eve on the show’s finale, it seemed like the culmination of years of smaller performances and musical collaborations for Hawsawi.

Now, however, with his ongoing success on The X Factor, things are a lot more serious, and on a much larger scale, for the R&B singer.

“This experience has been incredible,” says Hawsawi as he takes a quick break from the incessant rehearsals schedule on the set of the show in Beirut.

“The things I have learnt here in just a couple of months would have taken me years to learn. It’s an incredible opportunity. I really want this to continue. If anything, this has shown us that the life of a performer is tough and we understand this now as contestants – and yet we still want it. This is the life I choose.”

It looks to be well within his grasp. Hawsawi has received nothing but praise from his mentor, Alama, and the other judges, Lebanese singer Elissa and Egyptian actress and singer Donia Samir Ghanem.

On last Saturday’s live episode, after his well-choreographed and brilliantly executed performance of the Pharrell Williams smash hit Happy, Elissa told him: “You’re amazing. Every week I’m always excited to see what you will sing and see if I can find a mistake or something to comment on. There’s nothing. You’re perfect.”

The judge’s gushing praise and his ever-growing fan base on social media are the only indications Hawsawi has of how popular he is becoming across the Middle East.

“As contestants, we’re secluded here and very immersed in doing the show week after week, just practising and learning and preparing all the time,” he says. “We don’t actually get to see the outcome or what people outside the programme think of us, so we’re not aware of whether or not we’re really all that popular. Social media is great, sure, but it’s temporary. A lot of people get big on these programmes but then you never hear about them again. That’s a fear for all of us as contestants.”

Despite this, he says he has high hopes for the future and the determination to work hard after he leaves the programme to keep the momentum going.

“I’d love to record an album, do a few videos, have the people who have been an audience of the show see me work hard,” he says. “I want to perform in festivals and concerts. I just want to be completely immersed in a career in music.”

His first time on stage was in 2008, when he took part in a talent show in Jeddah.

“Before that, I used to sing all the time, but just for fun,” he says. “The idea of becoming a singer like the people on the TV, the people I’ve always admired, seemed to be unreachable.”

His late mother always told him she loved his voice, he says, but he couldn’t take her seriously. “She’s my mum, of course she’s going to say that,” he says.

Sadly, the only time she saw him perform was at the first talent show, as she died that same year. However, Hawsawi says her memory is never far from his mind before every performance.

“The smile on her face after my first performance is the only confirmation I will ever need that I have to keep doing this,” he says.

He firmly believes that you have to do what you love and pursue your dreams.

“One of the reasons I’m doing this is to send out a message that if you have a dream, you can achieve it,” he says. “We come from a society where life is study, get a job, get married, have kids, that’s it – and try to love the job you were forced to be in. For me, my message to everybody is if you have a dream, follow it, do what you love to do – you only get one life.

“As long as I’m having fun on stage, then the audience will hopefully be having fun listening to me. So let’s all just have a good time with this.” - The National


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

For the 24 year-old who won the hearts of the Middle East and the title on MBC's “X Factor” talent show, it appears music loves Hamza Hawsawi back.

Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Hamza fell in love with R&B/Soul & Pop at a very young age. His late mother was his cheering audience, his biggest influence and the first to discover his talent. 
He is a self taught English speaker and learned the language through movies & music - it didn't hurt that his mom was also an English teacher.

It wasn't until 2008, at the age of 17, that he experienced life on stage. His performance at a talent show in Jeddah caught the attention of many and resulted in forming his group known as J-FAM. 
From that point onward, Hamza took it upon himself to be an innovative & industry driven artist in the Middle East. Although dancing used to be his first love, he realized at that moment that singing was a dream he would make sure came true.
In 2010, he met Ayham Homsi at Go Production and the two worked on a vast collection of songs. The project was released in the form of two EPs (First Words - Vol.1&2) on Soundcloud with the singles 'You Don't Have to Go Home' & 'No One Else' receiving visual treatment.
While working on his solo material Hamza had the opportunity to work with Arabs Got Talent’s presenter/HipHop Artist, Qusai. Since then the two have collaborated on 7 songs which were included on both of Qusai’s albums.
In 2014, 300K YouTube views, over a dozen singles & collaborations with some of the region’s finest artists, endorsement from great brands & numerous shows around the Middle East and Europe, Hamza set the standards high for independent artists in the Middle East.

From the beginning of his stint on X-Factor, Hamza made his presence known. The guy with a winning smile, humble spirit and a voice smooth as silk won the hearts of many. Each week Hamza was a star that shone brightly. His infectious personality and soulful voice led him to become the winner of The X-Factor Season 4 Title in June 2015.
The journey has just begun...Hamza is currently working on his upcoming album & can't wait to share it all with his loving & supportive fans.

Through hard work and an unshakable faith, Hamza keeps fulfilling his promise to not just his mother but to himself and continues to express his growth as a musician and as an individual. For this, she is no doubt proud.

"One Of The Reasons I'm Doing This Is To Send Out A Message That If You Have A Dream, You Can Achieve It," - Hamza Hawsawi. 

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