Overnight, Marc Hatem saw his social media following double, then triple and now he's just losing track. A Lebanese architecture graduate and a contestant on " The Voice France," Hatem isn't sure what to do with all the attention he's experiencing .
As the first notes of Hatem's rendition of "Take Me To Church" reached the ears of the celebrity coaches for the reality singing competition – and later the ears of fans throughout the Francophone and Arab world – his life was destined to change.
The Voice France 2016 -Marc Hatem's blind audition "Take Me To... The Voice France 2016 - Marc Hatem's Blind Audition "Take Me To Church"#MarcHatemTheVoice
Posted by Marc Hatem on Saturday, March 5, 2016
StepFeed sat down with Hatem at Le Mall Habtoor in Beirut as he took a breather from his increasingly busy schedule to chat about his newfound fame, how architecture can be as simple as fashion and of course, his experience on the "The Voice France."
Meeting on the terrace of Roadster Diner, I can tell immediately that Hatem is still getting use to doing interviews. Just this past weekend, his Facebook fan page had about 3,000 likes and now, at the time of writing, it has reached more than 26,000. The viral video of Hatem's audition has already garnered nearly a million views.
Speaking about the extremely positive reaction to his audition from the celebrity coaches, Hatem says, "I was emotional. I don't know if you can see it from the video because I had tears in my eyes, but I was very happy with the way they were giving me the compliments. They were really classy talking to me, comparing to when they were talking to other talents."
Explaining the differences, he adds, "It's like the intensity of the energy they were giving me was matching the intensity of my presence on stage. So, they saw that I'm not the type of guy that you should be talking to like, 'Please come to my team!' No, they were giving me really good advice that I can use, not only listen to and then forget."
Hatem says that he knew before his audition that he wanted to be on Garou's team. "Garou is one of my role models. Because he has a very special tone. His vocal chords are deformed naturally, this is why he has this [Hatem makes a raspy tone, imitating the popular Canadian singer] when he's singing."
However, while Hatem would like to learn from Garou's unique style, he says that the style he aspires to emulate is a mix of Josh Groban and Michael Buble, their "character and the voice."
Of course, Hatem isn't the first Lebanese contestant to draw significant attention when performing on the "The Voice France." Just last season, Hiba Tawaji, a prominent Lebanese singer, drew significant hype in Lebanon and France with her attention-grabbing performances. In fact, Hatem explains Tawaji is the reason he ended up auditioning for the show in the first place.
"The person responsible for the casting called [Hiba Tawaji] to ask her if she knew any Lebanese talents. So, she told him about me because I have on YouTube a video of me singing a cover of one of her songs. It's in Arabic, not in English, but following this cover I have lots of videos singing in Arabic and French. So, she gave him my name and he contacted me."
Although Hatem was actually vacationing in Italy at the time, when stardom calls ... you answer. The rest of course, is fast becoming viral history. While Hatem definitely isn't new to drawing applause or winning competitions – he's toured the world performing at various private and public events and even won first place at the 2011 Karaoke World Championship held in Ireland – the drastic increase in attention will definitely take some adjusting.
"I woke up to a new life, to a whole new life that I couldn't handle. And until now, I don't know what to do with all the support I'm getting from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube ... It's too much. I don't know how they do it, maybe they have managers for these pages. I don't know but I still haven't gone professional about the social media accounts. I'm still like, I want to read everything like I did before, but it's impossible because there are tens of thousands of messages."
Salut tout le monde! J'arrive vraiment pas à trouver les mots face à tous les messages que je reçois!Ça me touche...
While singing has been the passion that Hatem has pursued, he completed his studies in architecture at L'Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts. When I ask him if he plans to also pursue a career in his field of study, he tells me that for now he's put that aside but it's definitely still a part of his life.
"I think it's more than just the major. It's the way of thinking, the way of seeing stuff. So you can be an architect with what you're wearing. With your looks, you can have a good eye for stuff. It's not only buildings."
And with that philosophy of architecture, Hatem is definitely not abandoning his major. As we say good bye, he tells me he is going to pass by Zara, maybe buy some things. And of course, there's also that now iconic eyebrow ring ...
Hatem has already captured hearts with his audition, but he still has to pass the show's battle phase, in which he will go head-to-head against a fellow teammate. Depending on Hatem's performance, his coach will decide whether he proceeds to the live performance shows. So, stay tuned!