Nelly Furtado may have casually commented about singing traditional Maltese music with għannejja at the Isle of MTV concert on Tuesday but her remark was immediately snapped up by folk singers who expressed an interest to perform with the star.

Għana Fest coordinator Noel D’Amato said he received a number of requests the day after the singer said she had originally intended to perform what she referred to as “Maltese freestyle songs of the older generations”, similar to the Portuguese improvised style that she grew up with.

When challenged to do it, she asked for an għana singer to come forward – and they did not waste any time in doing so.

Mr D’Amato said he called the concert organisers to let them know of the interest and they told him they would look into it.

But the matter stopped there and no spirtu pront (improvised song duel) singers in their white vests made it on to the prestigious MTV stage.

Crossover performances are welcomed by għannejja, who enjoy collaborating with foreigners sharing similar roots. Some combine local folk singing with rap and want to make their music more mainstream.

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