Think back to achievements you could have boasted about at 13. ‘Most improved’ player on the cricket team? 100 per cent attendance at school? Biggest coin collection? While they may have been significant in their own way, we’re willing to bet winning an international singing search in the home of show business could just be a trump card. That is exactly the accolade Dubai born and raised Maya Din is currently celebrating. Recently heading to the prestigious Vocal Star competition in Los Angeles, California, the talented young lady won the ‘Best Performance Pre-Teens’ category. Holding auditions around the world, music management and consultancy group Vocal Star put on the contest each year to provide finalists the opportunity to go to America and show their stuff in front of industry heads and, those who impress, often take home more than a trophy: namely exposure and contacts.
Whilst over there, Din attended a five-day intensive boot camp before the final showcase in front of major record label execs. Like every good reality story, the journey however was not without its setbacks. After the pandemic had already postponed the programme for 18 months, two weeks prior to the competition Maya lost her voice. Though, she battled through and is now in possession of the gong. As a result the future looks bright for the UAE resident who notes British heritage through her parents and also spent a few years living in Australia. Din has been approached by various agents, record labels and casting directors representing the likes of Disney and Nickelodeon.
We caught up with the artist to find out more.
How does it feel to have won your award? How did you manage to enter?
I feel extremely proud because I worked so hard for months leading up to the show, and I’m excited for more opportunities to come my way. I heard about the Vocal Star auditions traveling the world searching for talent and I asked my mum if I could audition for the dates they were in Dubai. We applied, were invited for auditions and I was selected to join the finalists in LA. We flew from here, so it was a really long flight!
How did you feel as you were competing?
The competition involved extensive training, songwriting and industry Q&As with celebrities. The first round was to perform in front of industry experts. Only a few were taken through to the live showcase Gala (a red carpet event in Hollywood) and luckily I was one of the few selected. They made the competition fun so it didn’t feel like a competition at the start. It was nerve wracking and I was really scared to mess up on stage. With the nerves came excitement and, once on stage, I felt free and in my element.
How do your friends and family feel about your success? How did you juggle this competition with school?
They are so excited and want to know what’s next. My family are very supportive too. My grandparents, uncle and aunt are living in Dubai as well as my parents and I. When you have your family close, anywhere feels like home. I find living in Dubai really fascinating because it’s got some amazing attractions, bright lights, great architecture and most of all it’s safe.
I am going into North London Collegiate School but during the competition I was home-schooling to balance the time between vocal training and school work.
Were you always interested in music?
From the age of three I started asking my mum if I could play the violin as I really wanted to try an instrument. At the age of four I received one for my birthday! I also did cheerleading, drama and dance and when I was at home I would sing all the time. My mum signed me up to musical theatre and I found out that I had a passion for it. I joined my school choir and many performing art schools in Dubai. I ended up singing at the Opera House and performed in Peter Pan onboard the QE2. My passion for singing has grown much stronger over the years, and the L.A. trip last month played a big part in giving me even more confidence to pursue my dreams.
To know what you want to do at such a young age is rare, how do you hope to stay on track?
My parents encourage me to do well and always advise me to follow my dreams. They are enthusiastic towards my work and invest a great deal of time towards my passion. Not only did they fly to L.A. with me, they have to listen to me sing all day, drive me to meetings and lessons and help me build and develop connections. It’s not easy when they run a global consulting firm, but it’s all in the name of love!
What kind of music are you into and how would you describe your sound?
I’m into eventful and emotional music. My favourite artists are Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. The sound I like most is slow, deep and powerful.
How does being a Dubai resident influence your music?
Since I’ve been here a long time, I have developed many connections over the years, some of whom are in the music industry. I have seen Dubai transform over the years too, which is inspiring, and I’m proud to be part of that transformation journey.
The future looks bright after the comp with all the casting directors. What are you most looking forward to? What would your dream project be?
I’m most looking forward to releasing my own music and music video. I have a desire to perform in front of thousands at a large concert. I’m also looking forward to travelling back to Los Angeles. My dream project would be working and singing with an artist I really love and I’d love to have a number one hit.
Who would you say are your inspirations and why?
My parents inspire me the most. They are both driven, successful and hard-working, but never sacrifice me or my sister’s ambitions or dreams. They are loving, kind and super supportive, which inspires me. They have guided me to never change who I am for anyone or anything, and just be unique.