Nayah, the 1999 French Eurovision hopeful, is back under the spotlights thanks to a new reality TV show broadcast on French cable TV channel TF6.
In “Les Sosies à Hollywood”, 7 French lookalikes are to spend 10 days in the American city of Los Angeles for an adventure full of surprises with the objective to meet their respective idols: Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, Hugh Jackman, Kim Kardashian, French rock star Johnny Hallyday and, last but not least, the Canadian diva and winner of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest Céline Dion impersonated by a Nayah full of energy. French daily newspaper Metro met with the French singer a few days ago on the occasion of the broadcast of the very first episode of the show. The singer explained the whole story behind her participation.
To start the article, the journalist underlines the fact that when Nayah entered the coffee shop, where they would meet for the interview, with her long hair, her sunglasses and laughing out loud, people really thought Céline Dion was coming in. When she sat, took off her sunglasses and started talking without imitating the French-Canadian accent, there she was: Nayah. The dynamic 52-year old singer from Perpignan, in South-Western France, has been the official Céline Dion lookalike for 13 years now. Contrarily to most lookalikes, Nayah was not a real fan of the Canadian diva when she started impersonating her but a true singer herself. She reminds the journalist that she is a songwriter and that she represented France at the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest held in Jerusalem with the song Je veux donner ma voix. The journalist reports that she then burst into a laughter reminding him that she did not win!
Nayah carries on explaining that soon after her Eurovision experience, her producer, whose name is René as Céline Dion’s producer and husband, informed her that an American producer watched her performance and thought she looked a lot like Céline Dion. Nayah met him for an audition later on and the American producer, who was desperately looking for a French speaking lookalike, just shouted “We have our Céline Dion!”. On the very same day, Nayah was offered a very important contract for a tribute show in Las Vegas, and an international tour later on. The French singer quickly started working on her impersonation of the Canadian superstar that she appreciated and respected without being a big fan of hers back then. “The more I discover her, the more I become a fan. I did a lot of work to get the way she moves, her accent; I stress some aspects of her personality to make Céline shine even more, but always with my own little touch.” However, Nayah does not give room to improvisation. “I need to follow a professional discipline. In the USA, people like me are called lookalikes. This means that any mistake during my performances would not be tolerated. If I sing out of tune, I get a $100 fine. This is part of my 50-page contract”.
In “Les Sosies à Hollywood”, besides living the American dream (paparazzi, happenings, castings, professional meetings, etc.) Nayah will try to meet Céline Dion, feeling very emotional when entering the studios where the diva recorded several of her very successful albums. “There I met Humberto Gatica who co-produced various albums for Céline . I sang for him ‘Pour que tu m’aimes encore’, one of Céline’s best known tracks in French, plus some other stuff of mine.” Gatica was reportedly very impressed that Nayah could master two different voices. The Canadian singer has an exceptional vocal range and technique indeed, and Nayah had to work very hard to sound as much as possible like her.
In addition to the show that will be broadcast each Wednesday evening at 8.50 p.m. on TF6, Nayah is currently very busy with the preparation of her new album, Je suis. The singer is currently looking for a record label to release and promote the new songs she recorded with no less than two musicians who regularly collaborate with Céline Dion, André Coutu (guitar) and Dominique Messier (drums) who also works with Lady Gaga. The first single of her upcoming album, a bossa nova-styled cover of one of the main hits of the 1975 French Eurovision entrant Nicole Rieu entitled Je suis, was sent to the radios a few weeks ago and received great reviews (see here).
The journalist from Metro ends the article stressing out the fact that Nayah is a very enthusiastic person and that she fully enjoys the joy that her passion and her fans bring her. “An artist must stay very close to his/her public. A career can be so ephemeral. To be an artist, one must follow a few essential rules: a voice, a heart and awareness.” And the journalist to conclude: it is Céline Dion who could easily think that she looks like Nayah…