By Morgan Hekking and Tamba Francois Koundouno
After delivering incredible solo performances, French-Moroccan sisters Sara and Rania are set to compete in the 2020 finals of The Voice Kids France.
Sara and Rania were raised in France but born in Italy to a French-Moroccan mother with roots in Rabat. Both girls are described as shy and introverted, but as soon as they step on stage with microphones in hand, 12-year-old Sara and 10-year-old Rania are showstoppers.
Rania performs ‘SOS d’un terrien en detresse’
In the semi-finals of The Voice Kids France on Saturday, Rania, the younger of the two spellbinding French-Moroccan sisters, gave an impressive rendition of “SOS d’un terrien en detresse,” originally performed by Daniel Balavoine.
The judges were shocked to see a 10-year-old perform in such a “professional way,” saying if she’s singing so well at this age, she is bound to be great in the future.
Rania’s coach in the competition, French singer Soprano, described her as “out of this world” and compared her to American superstar Mariah Carey, thanking the girl’s mother for bringing her and her talented sister to The Voice Kids.
Composed by Michel Berger and written by Luc Plamondon in 1978 for the rock opera Starmania, “SOS d’un terrien en detresse” has over two and a half octaves to exploit the wide range of its original singer. Daniel Balavoine performed the now-iconic song for the first time on the 1978 studio album Starmania.
French television channel TF1 describes Rania’s chosen song as “one of the most difficult songs in the French repertoire” for its alternating high and low notes.
Rania is not the first contestant on The Voice Kids to wow the judges by mastering and majestically performing the markedly difficult song.
Including Rania, at least four contestants on The Voice Kids have performed “SOS d’un terrien en detresse” over several seasons of the competition in Belgium and France. The judges, however, rhapsodized about Rania’s cover, unanimously saying that it was the best.
Sara performs ‘I Put a Spell on You’
“This is crazy. That’s it,” said Sara’s coach, French singer Jenifer, as both the judges and the public seemed to take a collective deep breath to fully appreciate what had just happened.
Underneath their outsized, discernible delight and admiration was a question, unarticulated and yet manifest: How could a 12-year-old perform such an emotionally convoluted, vocally intricate, almost frightening song?
“I was actually afraid of your choice to cover this song, Sara. Not because I doubted your talent,” Jenifer added. Her doubts, she continued, had to do with the fact that performing such a song demands maturity and experience.
But where Sara lacked the emotional maturity to perform Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins’ 1956 hit “I Put a Spell on You,” she made up with what genuine, pure talent can be at her age: Soothing voice, affecting naivety, and an almost effortless brilliance—allowing her to own, live the song of her choice. “When she sings, it’s like a monument,” concluded her jubilant coach.
One of the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll,” the famous song appeared on the previous season of The Voice Kids France.
Sara’s soulful rendition of the song can be compared to that of Nina Simone’s soul-elevating, sublime 1965 cover.
If anything can be taken from their incredible performances on The Voice Kids France, it is that the French-Moroccan sisters are bound for stardom. Both girls possess a commanding stage presence and remarkable vocal ranges that can only be improved upon as they age and develop their craft.
More specifically, it is difficult to distinctly say who of Sara or Rania “nailed it” the most, as judges put it.
Soprano, Rania’s coach, who described Rania’s cover as “extraterritorial” and called Sara “unbelievably high-level,” had his own theory: The two sisters are effortless vocal genuines who have been gifted with an environment of love and unbounded care to express themselves, become the stars they are meant to be.
“Like I said, I don’t know what your mother feeds you. I wonder what she feeds you,” he declared, dimpling, looking at the girl’s ebullient, proud mother.
Work ethic and loving family
In an interview with Morocco World News, Rania and Sara described how they were able to strike a balance between nurturing their natural-born talents and succeeding in school.
“We work our songs through YouTube and it’s mostly Wednesday afternoons and Sundays so we have no problem with studying. We manage to reconcile the two without problem,” the girls said confidently.
Given their success on The Voice Kids France thus far, the French-Moroccan sisters are primed for professions in the industry.
“Inchaallah, if we get there,” the sisters said of future careers in music. Otherwise, Rania dreams of being a teacher and Sara, a lawyer.
“Music is a passion and we are very lucky to be able to have that in common,” they told MWN.
“We would like to say that it was incredible to have come together hand in hand in the final,” they said of their solo successes.
Regardless of who wins The Voice Kids France, the French-Moroccan sisters can be proud of what they have already achieved. Winning the trophy will surely be a fitting, encouraging reward for the efforts they and their parents have put in their journey so far.
But whatever happens in the final, the two sisters’ have had their moments, and they “nailed it.” Their memorable semi-final performances are destined to be a reference for future contestants who will choose to cover “SOS d’un terrien en detresse” or “I Put a Spell on You.”
Despite praise from the judges, Sara and Raina have remained humble throughout the competition. “We lived each step as if it was the last time we were going on stage.”
“We worked hard to give the best of ourselves and share our passion through songs that are unique to us and that we love to sing. Our parents are super proud of our journey and so are we.”