JEDDAH: French-Syrian singer Mennel has become the subject of huge media and online attention following her appearance in the blind auditions of the French version of popular talent show “The Voice.”
Mennel, 22, is the first contestant to wear a headscarf for religious reasons on “The Voice France,” and she astonished audience and judges alike with her English- and Arabic-language rendition of talent-show staple, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Mennel is a master’s degree student who hopes to become a professor of English. She said singing is a liberating experience for her and she finds music offers her an emotional release.
Mennel dedicated Saturday’s performance to her parents.
Although all judges expressed an interest in coaching her, she chose Lebanese-born English singer and songwriter, Mika, as her coach.
In an interview with “Le Figaro,” Mennel defended her choice of wearing a colorful turban on the show instead of the more-traditional hijab, calling it her “signature style.”
“I am a Muslim so we can say that it is a way of wearing a veil in a more modern way,” she said. “But that’s mostly part of my look. You will never see me without it.”
Mennel has a Syrian-Turkish father and a Moroccan-Algerian mother and lives in Besan?on, in the east of France.
“For me, ‘The Voice’ is an opportunity to express myself and discover who I really am. I have watched the show for several years and each time, I would say to myself, ‘One day, it will be me. Maybe.’ Then I was spotted and now I’m living my dream,” she said.
Mennel had 26,700 followers on Instagram before her audition. That number has almost doubled, with 51,500 fans at the time of writing.