Andrew Zahra

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Andrew Zahra

Andrew Zahra born on the 14 of October 1979 in a family of five, lives in il-Fgura and works as a teacher.

Andrew received his primary education at St. Joan Antide School in il-Gudja and later moved on to St. Aloysius’ College where his first opportunities to play the piano in front of an audience occurred.

He graduated as a primary school teacher in 2003 and has been teaching kids at Tarxien Primary school ever since. Children give him so much happiness, teaching them is always a pleasure and seeing them grow up gives him so much satisfaction. Andrew directs the school choir and every year composes an original musical for Prize Day.

Music

Andrew started attending piano lessons at the age of six at the Johann Strauss School of Music, Valletta. He also went for private tuition and sat for exams issued by the Royal School of Music.

He was encouraged to start playing the church organ at a young age and he did so for a number of years together with a children’s choir called Flower of Carmel. This happened every Sunday at the Fgura parish, under the direction of Ms. Lillian Plumpton. Currently he plays the church organ at the Dominican church in Rabat, apart from playing at other occasions like weddings all around the island.

Andrew’s first experiences in local song festivals were those as a backing vocalist where he assisted established singers like Fabrizio Faniello, Miriam Christine, Renato…but singing wasn’t really in Andrew’s plans. He wanted to compose original songs for local singers.

He was also offered minor roles in two musicals; the local concert version of Les Miserables (1998) and the original production of Diana – Queen of Hearts (1999). These two experiences enabled him to make new friends and contacts.

Andrew’s first compositions that were played in public were two school anthems; those of Marsascala and Marsaxlokk; both with lyrics by Sunny Aquilina who was always a source of inspiration and encouragement.

The first participation in a local festival came in 1998 when, together with author Mario Fenech Caruana, Andrew produced the song Diana (referring to the late Princess Diana) and participated in the local con test Ghanja tal-Poplu. The song was interpreted by the trio Incorvaja Sisters.

Andrew participated numerous times in this festival in the successive years, together with different lyricists and singers such as Eleanor Cassar, Claudette Pace, Ina Robinich…Twice, his songs were awarded the Best Interpretation Prize.

An unforgettable experience was that in 2001 when Andrew took part in the Internation Festival of the Maltese Song for the first time. He participated with two songs, namely Zmien l-Avventura (lyrics by Mario Fenech Caruana, sung by Catherine Vigar) and Fommil-Vjolin (lyrics by Deo Grech and sung by GeorginaAbela). This last song won first prize and is still quite poplular on radio stations.

The local song contest Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza, is yet another good opportunity for local artists to express themselves. Andrew took part in this contest as a composer quite a few times together with singers such as Debbie Scerri, tenor Aldo Busuttil, Shirley Galea, Catherine Vigar…but he can never forget his victory in 2004 when he presented the song L-Arka tal-Liberta (lyrics by Mario Fenech Caruana, sung by duo Natasha and Charlene Grima).

Also in 2004 Andrew was invited to be part of the production team for a young teen group called Young Talent Team. Andrew helped this group compose Power of a Song, with which the group won the local competition and represented Malta in Norway during the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2004.

The Malta Eurovision is a great, maybe one of the greatest opportunities for local artists to make their productions heard to the general public. Andrew has participated in this festival a few times, as backing vocalist in the 90s and also as a composer for Kylie Coleiro (2009) and JAnvil (2010 / 2011). The latter’s song TopsyTurvy is still popular.

Together with talented lyricist DeoGrech and Singer JAnvil, Andrew represented the Maltese Islands in an international song contest held in Cyprus in 2011. The contet called Golden Melody was a very interesting experience and the Maltese team was very satisfied to acquire second prize.

The Summer Hit Song Contest is another opportunity for composers, authors and singers to express their emotions. Andrew has taken part in this festival together with singers such as Kylie Coleiro (2009) and Ina Robinich (2011 / 2014) who also won third prize for the song Stay.

Radio and TV

Andrew’s media career started unexpectedly in 1998 when he joined Radio Malta 2 to present a weekly show regarding local singers and music. It was an opportunity for Andrew to get to know better the local music scene.

From radio Andrew moved on to television when he joined Education Channel 22, a station that specialized in educational programmes for children and young adults. Andrew was offered a daily children’ s show called Club 22. Later there were other shows such as Luna Park, Scooter…and Andrew acquired ample experience in presenting and producing.

In 2006 Andrew was offered to join One productions and therefore the daily programme for children NannuSpagu was born. This characted played by Andrew became very popular with kids and adults alike and the show ran for three years. It was also nominated as Best Children’s Programme in 2008 during the Malta TV Awards.

Later on Andrew was invited to join popular media icon Ray Azzopardi and his team for the programme Min Niċċa l’Barra. This show is about local village feasts; and Andrew had the opportunity to visit different towns around the Maltese islands promoting local folklore and traditions.

One One Radio Andrew, together with a group of lively children hosted the weekly show MhuxGhat-TfalBiss. This was a quiz show intended for both young and adult listeners, and it required loads of research. This show went on for three consequent years and the feedback was very good.

Currently, together with collegue Dorianne Zahra, Andrew hosts a weekly radio show called The Musical Collection. It’s all about Broadway, West End and Disney musicals; a genre that interests Andrew so much.

There are new projects in the pipe-line but one never knows what the future might bring. Andrew believes that no matter what, one should always stay with his feet on the ground and use his talents to make others happy.

Family

According to Andrew Zahra, the family is the greatest treasure on can ever have. Unfortunately Andrew lost his mother at a young age, but memories of her are still very vivid.

Andrew’s younger sister Julie is a professional singer and for years she was an esteemed artist here in Malta on local TV stations, musicals and song festivals. Together with singer Ludwig Galea she represented the Maltese Islands in the Eurovision Song Contest 2004 held in Istanbul with (On Again…Off Again).

One of Andrew’s uncles is also involved in the music scene as a lyricist. Andrew collaborated with Joe Julian Farrugia quite a few times, like for example the song Stejjer sung by Miriam Christine Borg in the International Festival of the Maltese Song- 2013 edition.

Andrew comes from a family of educators; his father was a teacher and headmaster for many years, his late mother was also a teacher, his sister teaches music in the UK…and he believes that his vocation as a teacher is the best thing that has ever happened in his life.

Apart from music and media, Andrew enjoys cooking, housework and swimming. But his two cats are his pride and joy. They fill the house with happiness and smiles…even when they are naughty.

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