Elissar Zakaria Khoury, commonly known as Elissa ), is a Lebanese best-selling recording artist and one of the most prominent Arab women. Elissa is known for her distinct style of music which combines classical Arabic music with elements of Western music and mostly relies on love ballads.
Elissa has left her mark on the Arabic pop music industry through her popular romantic musical style, which has earned her the title “Queen of Feelings”. Having sold over 30 million albums, Elissa was the highest-selling female Middle Eastern artist for 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010. Accordingly, in 2005, 2006, and 2010 she received the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist.
Additionally she has collaborated with regional and international musicians including Ragheb Alama, Cheb Mami, Fadl Shaker, Chris DeBurgh, Christina Aguilera, and Gérard Ferrer. Since 2013, Elissa has also been a judge on the television show MBC The X Factor.
Elissa was born to a Lebanese father (Zakaria Khoury) and a Syrian mother (Youmna Suud), in Deir el Ahmar, 12 km northeast of Baalbeck in the Bekaa Valley.
1992–99: Studio El Fan, and debut album Baddi Doub
Elissa’s musical career began in 1992, when she won the silver medal in Studio El Fan, a Lebanese music competition. Her first album, Baddi Doub, was released by EMI Records in 1998.
2000–03: W Akhertha Menak and Ayshalak
Elissa released her second album, We Akhertha Maak, which included the duet, “Betghib Betrouh”, sung with Lebanese Ragheb Alama. She was the only Arabic artist to perform in front of former United States President Bill Clinton at the Stars Charity show in Dubai. That year she won the Murex d’Or award for Best Female Artist. Her third studio album, Ayshalak, was released in 2002. 2002 ended when Elissa was called upon to inaugurate Kuwait’s Virgin Megastore with Sir Richard Branson. Her clip, “Ajmal Ihsas” won an Arabic Music Award for Best Video Clip in Dubai and in 2003 she signed a deal with Pepsi. Subsequently, she shot two advertisements with American pop star Christina Aguilera for Pepsi for the World Football Cup and Downloaded. Both advertisements were shot in Los Angeles. She collaborated with Irish singer Chris De Burgh in the duet, “Lebanese Nights.”
2004–06: Ahla Donia and Bastanak
In 2004 she signed with a pan-Arab record label, the Saudi-owned Rotana, under which she released her fourth studio album, Ahla Donya, in May 2004. In 2005, Elissa received the World Music Awards for the sales of her “Ahla Dounia” album for Best Selling Artist from the Middle East. The ceremony took place in Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. In December 2005, Elissa received the Murex d’Or for Best Lebanese Artist and Best Video Clip for “Hobak Wajaa”. After was the 2006 release of her fifth studio album Bastanak. On November 15, 2006, Elissa received the World Music Awards for the second year in a row for the sales of her Bastanak album.
2007–11: Ayami Beek, Tesadaa Bemeen, and continued success
Elissa’s sixth and seventh albums were Ayami Beek (December 20, 2007) and Tesadaa Bemeen (December 26, 2009). Elissa received her third World Music Award, Big Apple Award, Jordan Music Award, Middle East Music Award for Tesadaa Bemeen. In November 2010, she was awarded the prize for Best Arab Female Artist in the Jordan Music Awards, and a few days later she received the Big Apple Music Award for Best Female Artist in the Middle East (This award is an international one based in New York), the Middle East Music Award and received four awards from the Student Celebrity Awards.
2012–present: As’ad Wahda, Halet Hob, and MBC The X Factor
Her eighth studio album, As’ad Wahda, was released in June 2012. In December 2012, Elissa was chosen to be one of the judges of The X Factor Arabia; It was on air the first four months of 2013. On June 23, 2013 Elissa received two Murex D’or awards, for the Best Lebanese Singer and Best Arabic Song “Asaad Wahda”. On November 21, 2013 Elissa received the BIAF Award (Beirut International Award Festival) as an appreciation for her career as a Lebanese artist.
Elissa released her ninth studio album Halet Hob in July 2014. She released the first music video of “Hob Kol Hayati” on November 21, 2014. Elissa returned as a judge on MBC The X Factor for its second season on March 14, 2015. Elissa released her cover version of “Mawtini” on April 29, 2015 alongside with its music video. The second video from her ninth studio album was released on May 14, 2015 for “Ya Merayti”. As of June 2015, the album has sold over 190,000 copies worldwide.
Baddi Doub (1998)
W’akherta Ma’ak (2000)
Ahla Dunya (2004)
Ayami Beek (2007)
Tesadaa Bemeen (2009)
Best of Elissa (2011)
As’ad Wahda (2012)
Halet Hob (2014)