| By Sara Mohamed Saif Al Nadabi |
March 28, 2011
Meeting the Lebanese singer Soumaya Baalbaki made Sara Mohamed Saif al Nadabi realise that people sometimes know too little about the beautiful music and artists around them.
|Soumaya Baalbaki performs at Zaha Hadid Pavilion. Photo courtesy of ADMAF |
Meeting the Lebanese singer Soumaya Baalbaki
was a great opportunity for me to find out more about the musical world. I
realised that, like too many others, I know too little about the beautiful
music and artists around us, and I am so grateful for the access that Abu Dhabi
Festival gave me to witness all this culture and for the chance to expand my
Soumaya Baalbaki was born in
Lebanon, and grew up in a family who loved music and encouraged musical study.
Her father, an uncle and a few other members of her family are all musicians.
All of this ‘musical background’ helped her develop and refine her singing
Soumaya holds a Bachelor’s degree in Oriental
singing from the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of music. Her career
‘officially’ started when she was 16 years old, at a ceremony at the American University in Beirut, when she had the first
chance to perform in from of a wider audience. Up to then, young Soumaya had
mainly performed in school concerts.
I was very interested in finding out from Soumaya what
‘Arabtango’ – the type of music that she’s performing during the Festival –
actually is. Soumaya explained to me that even though Tango is a type of music
traditionally associated with Latin America, lots of old Arabic movies from the fifties and sixties
used Tango as their soundtracks, and many Arab singers from the ‘old generation’
– such as Farid al Atrash – used to perform Tango
songs. So even though Tango is
not a type of Arabic music, Tango songs have become part of Arabic culture.
Soumaya loves performing foreign songs and
learning foreign languages. She studied some Japanese, and performed a Japanese
song as part of an UNESCO cultural dialogue programme. Besides singing in
English and French, Soumaya has also performed Korean songs and at the moment
is studying Turkish, in an attempt to better understand Turkish music and to
better perform Turkish songs.
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