Jamal Al Kaabi from the UAE, Mohammed bin Murad Farshio from Tunisia and Alawi Al Shatiri from Yemen were eliminated via audience voting during the quarter-finals held at Sharjah's Al Majaz Amphitheatre on Thursday and broadcast live on Sharjah TV.
The three singers, who specialise in the Islamic-inspired music genre, were among 12 finalists chosen from 1,240 contestants from around the world.
“The voting rate in Tunisia is very weak. People do not know about Munshid Al Sharjah programme there," a visibly shocked Farshio told The National following his elimination.
Speaking calmly, he said that he would definitely work on the advice given by the members of the jury and his coach.
“I have learnt so much from the vocal trainer Waseem Faris including chanting methods, how to confidently mount the stage and much more valuable advice," he said. "It was a great honour to perform at Al Majaz Amphitheatre. To me, having been among the 12 shortlisted contestants makes me a winner."
Three vocal coaches have been guiding the aspiring nasheed stars on their journey. They include acclaimed Iraqi musician and composer Faris, series four finalist Mustafa Hamdo from Syria and Egyptian music producer and composer Sherif Mohsen.
The judges for this year's contest are Tunisian singer Lotfi Bouchnak, one of the most prominent Arab artists and musicians known for his religious chants; Sufi singer Sheikh Mahmoud El Tohamy, the man behind Madrassat Al Nashad chanting school; and Emirati singer Ahmed Bukhatir, who is considered the UAE's chanting ambassador.
Nine contestants will now progress to the semi-finals, to be held at the same venue on Saturday.
Lebanese contestant Rahid Hajj said his past experience performing on stage helped him sail through to the next round.
“I had expected to move to the semi-finals due to the extensive training I had," he said. "Although there was an element of fear when I got on the stage, I quickly overcame it due to my previous performances in front of an audience back home.”
El Tohamy told The National his advice to all contestants was to think of Munshid Al Sharjah as a great learning experience.
“I tell the contestants who left or will leave the show to consider this setback as a starting point of a journey of creativity," he said. "You may not have been lucky in Munshid Al Sharjah today, but God willing, you will become a member of the judging panel with us one day.”
Thursday's show began with a performance of the song Sharikato Al Khamseen(Sharjah towards the Next 50 Years) by all 12 finalists. Written by Abdalla bin Mohammed Al Owais, a poet and the head of the Department of Culture in Sharjah, the tune for the nasheed was set to music by Faris.
Syrian singer and songwriter Maan Barghouth and last year's Munshid Al Sharjah finalist, Egyptian singer Mohammed Tareq, were the guest performers of the night.
Following the semi-finals on Saturday, when more contestants will be eliminated, the winner of this year's Munshid Al Sharjah will be crowned on March 31. Fans can also vote for their favourite contestants online.
Alongside Munshid Al Sharjah, organiser Sharjah Radio and Television Authority has put together a family-oriented Sharjah Munshid Festival outside Al Majaz Amphitheatre. Offering a wide range of fun activities and competitions, the festival will include children’s entertainment, games, food stalls, daily shows, an outdoor cinema and a screening of past seasons of Munshid Al Sharjah.
The Sharjah Munshid Festival runs from March 24 to 31, 5pm-10pm, at Al Majaz Amphitheatre. Entry to the festival as well as the Munshid Al Sharjah show are free for all three days. Visitors will be required to present a green pass on Al Hosn app to enter. More information is available at munshidsharjah.ae