ROME: Italian-Egyptian singer Mahmood emerged victorious at the Sanremo Music Festival, the most important pop music contest in Italy, for the second time.
The singer, whose real name is Alessandro Mahmoud, won with a duet entitled “Brividi” (“Shivers”) alongside 18-year-old singer Blanco, and the pair will now defend Italy’s 2021 Eurovision Song Contest title in Turin later this year.
Mahmood previously triumphed at the festival in 2019 with “Soldi,” a song about Ramadan which included Arabic lyrics. He went on to represent Italy at Eurovision later that year. In 2018, he took the top prize in the Sanremo’s young artists section.
Writer and film director Ferzan Ozpetek, a member of the Sanremo jury, called his songs “the music of a changing Italy.”
Mahmood, whose stage name is a synthesis between his surname and the English word “mood,” was born in Milan to an Egyptian father and a Sardinian mother in 1992.
He grew up in the troubled and poor neighborhood of Gratosoglio, on the southern outskirts of the city, and experienced a complicated childhood after he was abandoned by his father aged 5, and his mother raised him alone.
Mahmood’s music combines trap, hip hop, pop and Arab influences. His popularity in Italy began after he took part in the talent show “X Factor” in 2016.
“This new success for Mahmood marks a success also for true integration in Italy,” said Foad Aodi, president of the Community of the Arab World in Italy. “This confirms once again that integration in Italy has now exceeded very appreciable and constructive levels, and must be enhanced.”
The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted in Turin after the 2021 edition was won by Italian group Maneskin, who earned the right to represent Italy after succeeding in the 2021 Sanremo Music Festival.