Before taking to the stage, it is advisable to study and work with the greats. This is what Emirati singer Alira did before releasing his debut single Take Flight on October 14.

Led by a dynamic counter-tenor vocal, the club track is an amalgam of ’90s-era pop and RnB, with cutting-edge dance production fit for clubs and festivals.

The ingredients in the mix, as the Emirati singer tells The National, partly lies in Alira, real name Ali Rashed, soaking up as much music as he could since childhood.

“Music really is my life and ever since I was really young, I would try to understand how some of these great songs and performances were put together,” he says.

“I am a big fan of the big divas like Mariah Carey and Celine Dion and I just love their songwriting, charisma on stage and their ability to grab an audience.

“Of course, at the time music was a hobby, but all that experience came through when I decided to really go for it and step out with my own work.”

Aiding him in that transition is a bona fide hit-maker.

Take Flight’s producer is none other than Wayne Wilkins, the British songwriter who has produced hits for Beyonce (Sweet Dreams), Jordin Sparks (Battlefield) and Natasha Bedingfield (These Words).

Alira recalls his song was largely formed by the time it reached Wilkins, as he’d already written the lyrics and melodies on piano. FULL STORY ON THE NATIONAL