Lebanese pop star Elissa, one of the best-known female singers in the Arabic-speaking world, has announced she is retiring, comparing the music industry to the mafia.
“I am preparing this new album with a lot of love and passion. The reason is that it will be the last one in my career,” the 46-year-old singer posted on Twitter late on Monday, adding that she made the announcement with a “heavy heart”.
“I can’t work in a field that is similar to mafias. I can’t be productive anymore.”
The singer did not elaborate on her comments, instead expressing her love for her fans and sharing their messages of support.
I am preparing this new album with a lot of love and passion. The reason is that it will be the last one in my career. I am announcing this with a heavy heart but with a lot of conviction because I can’t work in a field that is similar to mafias. I can’t be productive anymore
— Elissa (@elissakh) August 19, 2019
The comments hit headlines around the world, prompting a discussion over artists’ right to own their own material.
Last year, Elissa, whose real name is Elissar Khoury, complained about her music “being blocked” after her record label, Rotana, made a deal with Deezer, a music streaming service.
The deal resulted in the singer’s music being removed from the Middle Eastern streaming service Anghami, on which her songs had hundreds of millions of plays, and placed on Paris-based Deezer’s site.
Elissa is one of several prominent artists to voice concerns over the ownership of their music.
In June, pop sensation Taylor Swift slammed a deal between her former label Big Machine Records and talent manager Scooter Braun, which resulted in Braun gaining ownership of her master recordings, as her “worst case scenario”.
Following Elissa’s announcement, fans and fellow musicians posted messages of support on social media.
Egyptian singer Mohamed Hamaki said he “didn’t want to imagine” the music industry without Elissa, while Lebanese television presenter Joumana Bou Eid urged the singer to “never give up”.
Elissa has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and is known for tackling taboo subjects in her music, including domestic violence and suicide.
In August, she revealed in a music video that she had successfully undergone treatment for breast cancer.
A politics graduate, the singer caused controversy by aligning herself with the Lebanese Forces, a Christian-armed-group-turned-political-party.