Maher Zain has teamed up with humanitarian charity Penny Appeal to undertake his biggest ever UK tour this October. British actor and comedian Abdullah Afzal took the chance to ask him a few questions as he stopped by the UK in the run-up to the events.
AA: How are you finding the UK?
MZ: Great! Always happy to be here.
On the responsibility of fame
AA: A lot of young Muslims see you as their inspiration. Is it a lot of weight on your shoulders?
MZ: It’s definitely a responsibility and I’m aware of it. The main thing is to be yourself; people appreciate when you are yourself, off stage and on stage.
On the charity cause
AA: The tour is in aid of Penny Appeal’s Education First programme, to help girls in developing countries to go to school. Why is this close to your heart?
MZ: When I was young I took my years at school for granted. Now I miss those days, when I was free to learn without other responsibilities. It was fun, even though there were hard times. It’s very important to emphasise that. We want to inspire the youngsters to really take advantage of those years and not take them for granted.
On being stranded on a desert island
AA: If you were stuck on a desert island and you could take one person with you, eat only one meal and listen to only one song, what would those three things be?
MZ: One person would be my wife, has to be. The meal would be chicken curry and I’d probably create a new song.
On becoming a singer
AA: Did you always want to be a singer when you were younger?
MZ: No, absolutely not. I didn’t even know I could sing until I started in 2009. I used to work as a music producer, and I would only sing the songs as a demo. A lot of artists have been singing since they were a child, but I still don’t find it natural for me to sing. I’m still learning and I’m taking lessons, because I think I can do more.
On finding your talent
AA: What advice would you give someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
MZ: I think with anything that you would like to do, you need to be honest with yourself first of all. Am I good at this thing that I’m looking to do? Don’t waste time on something that you won’t be successful at.
Everyone has something that they’re really good at. It can be anything! Maybe you’re really good at talking – maybe you can do a talk show or be on the radio. Identify that talent and that goal in you, and be honest with yourself.
On performing in front of the Swedish Royal Family
AA: You recently performed at the Swedish National Day celebrations. What was that like for you?
MZ: It was amazing, I really enjoyed it. We had the band of the Swedish Army, a huge orchestra, and we sang a song called ‘Hey Brothers, Hey Sisters’. The King, the Royal Family were all in front of me, all the politicians and leaders and my family was there as well – it was amazing.
On the universal nature of music
AA: What influences you when you’re writing a song?
MZ: Music is a language. As human beings we have feelings, different moods, different timings. Sometimes you feel sad, sometimes you feel like you want to be uplifted, sometimes we’re just happy and we don’t want anything to bring us down.
When you write music it’s also about that inspiration. When you write a melody and lyrics, you keep asking yourself, what mood am I in now? Music speaks to you. I love music, and the sound of music. I love Turkish music for example, and it’s such an emotional experience for me, even if I don’t understand the lyrics.
The debut tour of Maher Zain’s latest album ‘One’ takes place in October this year, spanning 10 locations in the UK. Tickets are available now from Penny Appeal’s website.