6Qs with Singer Gaida //
Gaida, rightfully dubbed the “Syrian Nightingale” has an unforgettable voice and mesmerizing stage presence. If you haven’t seen her live, make it a point to. Here, she tells FEN about her debut album Levantine Indulgence and how she strikes that magical balance between East and West in her music.
Arabic Singer/Song: Fairuz – “Shar Ba’ad Shar”
Sound: Children’s Laughter
Pre-show Meal: Fish
1. What was the vision you had when you were putting your debut album Levantine Indulgence together?
Little stories from my life, dreams, nostalgia, memories of loss and pain, and lots of love and forgiveness.
My songs were already there, I just put some on a CD to share.
2. What does the title Levantine Indulgence mean to you?
The beauty of the fertile crescent– the Levant where I came from — I indulge myself in it when I sing and I don’t hold back. I love as much as I can and I feel home inside my songs.
3. You have wonderful stage presence — what do you do to prepare for a performance?
I get out of myself — I get out of my own way — and I look forward to connecting with my audience. I read verses from the Qur’an before going on stage, make sure I feel the floor with my feet and try to align with the universe. I also make sure I have my lyrics with me…
4. How do you find a balance between Eastern and Western in your work?
There is no such thing in music. Music is a comfortable place for everyone…we get together, we play, and we all fall into that comfortable zone where it sounds good and feels good.
What comes out of the heart, goes to the heart and what sounds good to your ear sets the rules.
5. What are the challenges of your field and how do you overcome them?
One challenge is booking concerts in areas that are not familiar with Arabic music. In general, presenters don’t like to take a risk with unfamiliar music. This makes it difficult for us to open new frontiers. So, we mostly perform in areas that we have built up an audience such as New York, the Midwest and California.
Of course, this always brings the question of ‘do I have to sing in English in order to reach out to the mainstream?’ But I believe that our music is captivating and comes from our heart, which makes it universal and carries a language of its own that every one can feel in their hearts. People who don’t speak Arabic have cried in my concerts…
and have clapped and danced as well. Whenever presenters give us a chance in new areas even when the audiences are not familiar with Arabic music, we always break new ground and build new fans. People simply love it. And this inspires me.
6. If you weren’t singing — what would you be doing?
Currently I’m a speech pathologist and a voice coach. I could have also been an emergency room doctor or an interior designer.
Singing doesn’t stop me from doing my professional job. I will always sing. I was born to sing. It is the essence of my existence and I have no choice but to exist.
For more on Gaida, visit www.gaidamusic.com/