From controversy-surrounded, internationally-renowned artists to local, home-grown talent, the Desert Rhythm Festival will bring a diverse line-up of stars to the stage at Dubai Media City this weekend.

Getting underway at 3.30pm tomorrow with Greek Eurovision Song Contest winner, Helena Paparizou and climaxing with
performances from internationally-acclaimed artists Mika and Kanye West, the two-day event promises to have something for everyone.

tabloid! brings you the lowdown on the artists.

Kanye West

  • When: 10pm, Friday
  • Where: Main stage
  • Name: Kanye Omari West
  • Born: June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia, US.
  • Nicknames: Ye, The Louis Vuitton Don, Konman.
  • Trademark: Uses alliteration in raps.
  • Most famous song: Golddigger


Kanye is an American record producer and rapper who rose to fame in the mid 2000s. He released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004, his second album Late Registration in 2005, and his third album Graduation in 2007.

In January 2006, West sparked controversy when he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in the image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns.

He has also been reported to have suggested that if a modern-day Bible was written, he should feature between the pages. He said: "I throw up historical subjects in a way that makes kids want to learn about them. [I'm] definitely in the history books already."

After the 2006 Grammy nominations were released, West said he would "really have a problem" if he didn't win Album of the Year. He ended up winning several Grammy awards, including Best Rap Album, but did not win the Album of the Year Award. The award instead went to U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.


  • Has a metal plate in his chin from a near-fatal car accident.
  • Has produced numerous songs for many artists including Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Jay-Z, DMX, Alicia Keys, Common, Mos Def, and many others.
  • His debut album, College Drop Out, sold over 400,000 copies in its first week.
  • Nominated for 10 Grammies in 2005 and ended up winning three.
  • His name is pronounced: "Con-yay".
  • His favourite band is Scottish rock group Franz Ferdinand.
  • Kanye means "the only one" in Swahili.

Personal quote:

"I was never really good at anything except for the ability to learn."

Ziggy Marley

  • When: 5pm, Friday.
  • Where: Main stage.


A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Ziggy first sat in on recording sessions with his famous father Bob Marley when he was
10-years old.

Blending blues, r 'n' b, hip-hop and reggae, Ziggy joined with his three siblings as the driving creative force to become The
Melody Makers, a triple-Grammy-winning act.

In 2003 Ziggy released his debut solo album, Dragonfly, which featured guest artists such as Flea and John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Mike Einziger and DJ Kilmore (Incubus). He has contributed to a variety of soundtracks including 50 First Dates and Shark's Tale, in which he delved into acting for the first time, playing the character of Bernie, the Jamaican jellyfish.

But he's not only known as a singer, songwriter and producer. Ziggy also founded U.R.G.E. (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a non-profit organisation that benefits a wide range of charitable children's causes in Jamaica, Ethiopia and other developing nations.

In recent years he has also been a support behind the Youth AIDS campaign.


  • When: 4pm, Saturday.
  • Where: Main stage.
  • Name: Soulful jazzy pop.


Four guys, all based in Dubai, make up Abri — Hamdan Al Abri, Julian Symes, Rami Lakkis and Andre Atherley.

Their jazzy and soulful album, Sunchild, will be released by Music Master on November 1.

Hamdan, who named the band after his family name Abri, was born and raised in Dubai but his parents are both from Zanzibar.

Born into a musical family, Hamdan was singing before he could talk and the rest, as they say, is history.

Joss Stone

  • When: 8pm, Saturday.
  • Where: Main stage.
  • Name: Joscelyn Eve Stoker.
  • Born: 11 April 1987 in Dover, UK.
  • Nickname: Jossie.
  • Trademark: Performing barefoot
  • Most famous song: Super Duper Love


Singer Joss Stone spent her teen years in the rural Devon countryside in the UK, where she bought her first album, Aretha Franklin's Greatest Hits, which inspired her to become a singer. In 1999, at the age of 14, she auditioned for a popular BBC show, Star for a Night.

She has sold more than 7.5 million albums worldwide; won two Brit awards, been nominated for four Grammy Awards; appeared onstage with James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Patti Labelle, Mavis Staples, Donna Summer, and Smokey Robinson; sat for an interview with Oprah Winfrey; starred in two major ad campaigns for Gap; and performed for more than 200,000 people at the 2005 Live 8 Concert — all before reaching the ripe old age of 19.


  • Took part in the Band Aid 20 re-recording of Do They Know It's Christmas?
  • Supports Liverpool Football Club.
  • Nominated for three Grammys: Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, (You Had Me) and Best Pop Vocal Album
    (Mind, Body & Soul) in 2005.
  • She is dyslexic.
  • Tom Cruise is a fan of her music and a friend.
  • She owns Missy, a Rottweiler, and Dusty, a Poodle.
  • Is a vegetarian.

Personal quote:

[On why she always performs barefoot]: "I don't want to fall over, man."

Black Violin

  • When: 8pm, Friday.
  • Where: Main stage.
  • What: Hip hop/classical.


Classically-trained musicians Wil-B and Kev Marcus make up the group Black Violin. On May 21, 2005, they were catapulted to fame when they scooped the title of Apollo Legends.

The ultimate synergy between classical and hip-hop music, the duo seem to have an incredible ability to reach young children.

Black Violin has toured with Linkin Park's lead singer Mike Shinoda throughout the US, performed at the NFL Kick Off party with Diddy, performed with Alicia Keys, been featured on albums by Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Lil Kim and Brooke Hogan.

Wil-B "Simply Sick", aged 23, attended Dillard High School of Performing Arts, and joined the school band where he played the saxophone and violin. Not only is this young man talented on the violin but he also can sing, play the piano, drums, trumpet and the bass guitar. Kev Marcus, aged 23, also attended Dillard High School of Performing Arts. He was encouraged by his mother and teachers at the age of nine to begin playing the violin.

Helena Paparizou

  • When: 3.30pm, Friday.
  • Where: Main stage.


Born in Sweden to Greek parents, Helena is recognised and often dubbed as Greece's No 1 pop star.

Her artistic talents and determined eagerness to excel in music were revealed at a very early age.

Singing, dancing and acting are her main passion and Helena admits she always wanted to be a star.

One of Helena's significant turning points in life was with the creation of Antique, a group she created with her childhood
friend, Niko at the age of 17. Almost immediately, Antique signed their first record contract with the record label Bonnier
in Sweden. Their debut single Opa Opa became a huge hit, reaching No 1 on the singles charts and gaining a gold status.

The debut album followed and later in 2001 came their first pan-European breakthrough as they were selected to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Antique secured third place for Greece that year with their song I Would Die for You.

Antique's major success in the Eurovision contest led to a successful career which includes platinum albums, a European tour and collaborations with many highly successful and credible artists from Greece and abroad.

In 2003 Helena decided to go it alone and signed a deal with Sony Music as a solo artist.

And in May 2005, Helena Paparizou represented Greece for the second time in the Eurovision Song Contest and won the first prize with the song My Number One.


  • When: 6pm, Saturday.
  • Where: Main stage
  • Music: Hip hop/ r 'n' b

Lowdown: Arash Labaf is an Iranian singer, dancer, entertainer and producer who was born in April 1977 in Tehran, Iran. He grew up in Tehran until the age of 10 and now resides in Malmö, Sweden.

On finishing college in June 2005, he released his debut album which included singles, Boro Boro (Go Away) and Temptation (featuring Rebecca Zadig), both of which made it to the hit lists around Europe.

He's been top of the charts in Poland, Serbia, Hungary, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Israel, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Sweden, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the Czech Republic.

In his 2006 album, Crossfade, Arash, DJ Aligator and Shahkar Bineshpajoo made a song for the Iranian Football team's appearance in the 2006 World Cup.


  • When: 10pm, Saturday.
  • Where: Main stage.
  • Most famous song: Grace Kelly.


At 6ft tall, Mika has taken the music world by storm with his own fantastical brand of three-dimensional pop.

A songwriter, performer, producer and orchestrator, his tunes combine a heady euphoric rush with darker unexpected elements: daytime melodramas and night-time tales of love, loss, abandonment, hope and happiness.

Born in Beirut in the mid-1980s, Mika's family soon found themselves having to move to Paris at the height of the conflict. The family eventually settled in London but Mika says he will always remember his Lebanese roots.

At the tender age of 9, he says he knew that song writing was his destiny.

Personal quote:

"I got to be really good at professional gigs. I did everything from recordings with the Royal Opera House to the Orbit
chewing gum jingle."


  • When: 6.30pm, Friday.
  • Where: Main stage.


Madness formed in 1976 and are an English pop/ska band from Camden Town, London. They achieved the majority of their success in the 1980s on the UK music scene and were also one of the most prominent bands of the late 1970s.

From 2007, the band has continued to perform with their most recognised line-up of seven members. The two-tone ska revival in the late-1970s fitted Madness to perfection, however, as their career progressed, the band moved away from ska and closer towards more conventional pop music.