"We had a few close calls with bombs going off," recalls Nadina of her childhood growing up in war-torn Lebanon. "Wherever we drove, my parents made sure we didn't look outside the window because they didn't want us to have photographic images of the war in our heads. I know people died nearby in some instances. It was really hard at times."
Surrounded by war, danger, struggle, and hardship, Nadina both found and gave solace in music. Her father, who was a folkloric and ballet dancer, recognized her talent very early on and encouraged her to sing and dance, fostering a lifelong passion for the arts in the process. When she was five-years-old, Nadina became the youngest member of a traditional Lebanese choir.
In 1986, Nadina became the first child from Lebanon and the Arab world to ever participate at the Zecchino D'oro UNICEF festival in Italy. The contest required participants to perform a song of their choosing translated to Italian without any prior knowledge of the language. Delivering a powerful rendition of "Vola, Palombella" [Fly Bird of Peace] to a television audience of over 25 million worldwide, judges awarded the young singer a gold medal, and the song became something of an international phenomenon. Instantly, her voice stood out, and she swiftly embraced the stage at charity concerts and functions across her native Lebanon and Internationally.
"Lebanon was in the midst of civil war, and I got the chance to do something positive," she goes on. "I was able to unite people through music, and I realized there was a deep power inherent in that. I tried to utilize the spotlight to do good." As her star continued to rise, Nadina opened and closed The Giffoni Film Festival—the European equivalent of The Academy Awards—merely a year later. Among the 10,000 attendees giving Nadina a standing ovation, an encounter with one audience member still sticks out for her.
She smiles, "Vanessa Redgrave actually asked for my autograph. She was so nice and complimentary. I still can't believe it to this day." Shortly after, Nadina was handpicked to perform at the Banner of Peace Festival in Bulgaria where 150 countries met to promote world peace. Nadina's invigorating performance ignited a standing ovation, and ambassadors shook her hand one-by-one as she exited the stage.
However, in 1989, violence hit too close to home once and for all. After a truly terrifying encounter while coming back from a television interview, Nadina's parents decided that the family should relocate to Canada.
With the relocation, Nadina began to pursue another passion—swimming. She fractured her back at the age of thirteen but still managed to get her National standings. She was ranked third in British Columbia and top seven in Canada. After swimming five years with an injury, she retired. In 1997, she temporarily returned to the sport to represent Lebanon in the Pan-Arab Olympics, winning five bronze medals in the process.
Nadina turned her attention to coaching swimming, and also spent time as a computer programmer/web developer, but music always beckoned to her, just like it had when she was a child, so she once again began to create and cultivate original music fervently.
In 2008, Nadina passed a demo along to Nettwerk C.E.O. Terry McBride, and soon after, she joined the label's family. Her 2012 debut album encapsulates her story, diversity, and dynamic myriad of talents. Crafting a sound of her own, Nadina sings in—English, Lebanese, Egyptian, and Classical Arabic on the record and distills a variety of textures and moods into her music.
About her style, she comments, "It's an amalgamation of North American and Middle Eastern sounds. I wanted to merge classical Arabic strings/instruments and modern Western beats. I tried to bridge all of these styles so the music doesn't lean far one way or the other."
That combination comes to life in the record's first single, "Shou Baddou Yseer." Hypnotic strings entwine with airy, ethereal production for cinematic sonic bliss while Nadina's angelic vocals take hold. About the song, she elaborates, "The phrase 'Shou Baddo Yseer' basically means what is going to be will be. The song is about confidence and believing in yourself. You give all you can and allow nature to take its course. You let it out and leave it to the world. You accept and face the trials of life."
Another track, "Sorrows & Goodbyes," directly delves into Nadina’s childhood and the war surrounding her. It's an intense, yet invigorating track colored by the Nay flute and Nadina's vibrant lyrical storytelling as she croons, "Flashbacks of the war appear in dreams."
"It's about my experiences in the war," she reveals. "I wrote the song so it could apply to other people's experiences as well. It brings me back to that time, specifically when I could feel the bombing. When I'd perform back then, I could feel what was going on outside. The song also reflects on others who had to fight and how many people lost their loved ones."
From turmoil to love, the record traverses a scope of emotions as diverse as the soundscapes themselves. Never losing sight of both of her homes, Nadina will even release separate versions of the album worldwide.
Ultimately, Nadina crosses both cultural and aural barriers and creates something entirely her own with this debut. To celebrate this distinct background, the album will be released in two versions: English and Arabic.
"My life experiences have brought me to the point of getting this album out," concludes Nadina. "I've excelled in all of these different avenues, and they've made me a better person. They've also helped my music and writing. I'd love for people to appreciate and enjoy the music, and I hope it inspires. It's a milestone for me, and I'll cherish it forever." Listeners undoubtedly will as well.