Woman trades broom for stardom – Straits Times

April 9, 2010

20-year-old Mahlet, a house maid from Ethiopia, poses for a picture in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil after her life was transformed from being a maid to a pop star, gracing the front covers of Kurdish magazines. — PHOTO: AFP


ARBIL (Iraq) – ETHIOPIAN housemaid Mahlet is changing her name to Maha and cutting her first video clip after proving to her Iraqi boss that she can sing better than she can clean.

Three years after she left her native Ethiopia to work as as a housemaid for prominent Kurdish musician Halcout Zahir, the 20-year-old woman is almost a household name in the northern autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Her break came when Iraq’s musical phenomenon Dashni Murad – dubbed the ‘Shakira of Kurdistan’ – discovered her.

Murad was sitting in the maestro’s recording studio waiting to see Zahir when she heard Mahlet sing while cleaning the house.

Mahlet’s voice enchanted her and she urged Zahir to audition the young woman.

‘I asked her to sing for me and I couldn’t believe my ears. Her voice is beautiful,’ said Zahir. The rest is history. Mahlet became Maha. — AFP