Mawazine 2016: ‘There is no right or wrong way to singing’, says Christina Aguilera

The singer talks about the joys of being a TV talent-show mentor and working with the late Whitney Houston.

Christina Aguilera performs at Mawazine 2016 in Rabat. Fadel Senna / AFP
Powered by automated translation

Fresh from mentoring the winning constant on the latest edition of the American version of TV talent show The Voice, pop star Christina Aguilera now has her sights set on completing her long-awaited new album – her last, Lotus, was released in 2012.

Speaking at the recent Mawazine Festival in Morocco, the 35-year-old reflected on her experience on the TV show and the joy of helping aspiring artists.

Congratulations on your contestant, Alisan Porter, being crowned winner of The Voice. Are you still on a high?

What a great feeling. Knowing Alisan, of all people to take it home, she deserved it. She is such a hard worker and to be away from her own children and being a mom at the same time – it was just a priceless moment to see the kids say “momma won”. It was so heart-warming and made it all worthwhile. It was also a nice victory against the boys.

About that, is it hard to believe you are the first female mentor with a winning contestant in 10 seasons?

Yes – finally a girl has taken it. Before this season there were only three female contestants that won it. Now there are four, with Alisan, and now one female coach has taken it home. With three male judges, the odds were always a bit against us – but not next season. We will finally have two females judges (Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus have signed on) and two males (Adam Levine and Blake Shelton).

One disappointment about the finale of the show was that your duet with a hologram of Whitney Houston was scrapped. What happened?

I was disappointed, too. Unfortunately, that's a legal matter between NBC [the network that broadcasts The Voice] and the hologram company. I think the special effects being done to her didn't quite turn out the way it was promised to by the deadline of the performance. But that's not to say that it wont happen eventually. Technology just has to catch up with Whitney's greatness and talent.

Speaking of the late Whitney, she was a big fan of your work.

She was just magical. I met her numerous times and sometimes you can be disappointed by people who you always admired and looked up to. She was always so gracious and encouraging to me. One time, I was shaking when I had to pay tribute to her and sing I Want to Run To You with Whitney there in person. Singing for your idol is no easy task and she just couldn't have been more complimentary – so sweet and supportive.

With The Voice completed, is it safe to assume that you are now working on your new album?

I am working on it – I promise. There is a lot of fun stuff in store. It will definitely hold a lot of truth for me and where I am at now – how I have grown and how I even learned a lot of things on the show. [TV] is not an environment where I can always say what I really want, so the album is very exciting for me.

What kind of direction are you taking with the new songs you are working on?

I will get to speak a lot about my truths and be honest with my fans. It will be completely inspirational. I make music for my fighters and I speak from places of pain and overcoming struggles. Hopefully, it inspires others to find their own voice.

You also mentor aspiring singers outside of The Voice through your 23-part singing course (available for Dh330 on

I love to be in a position to help other aspiring singers. With the masterclasses I teach them on my own time, where it is unedited and unfiltered. I am giving advice on singing and everything, from breath control and hitting notes to also just figuring out who you are as an artist. I do that because sometimes it is not so black and white. There is no right or wrong way to singing. Everyone is different and I think that’s what I try to do in my coaching – to really find out what their signature style is. Sometimes it is the little imperfections and cracks around the edges that contain honesty and emotion. That’s what I am most interested in, in an artist.

You are only 35 but you sound like a complete industry veteran.

I definitely do feel like that. I have paid my dues and grew up in the business – I have been working pretty much since I was 7. I feel like I have put in hard and great work – but I am nowhere near done. I am very excited about the next chapter.