Three Minutes, Three Questions – Farah Siraj

Three Minutes, Three Questions – Farah Siraj

“Our mission with this partnership and with Farah specifically is to help spread the message of ‘peace through music’,” says Nicole Cotton-Leachman, managing director of the Faulkner Performing Arts Center at the University of Arkansas.

She’s talking about a performance set for Nov. 9 by Farah Siraj, an internationally acclaimed vocalist who is equally well known for her fusion of musical styles and her humanitarian efforts.

“Not only do we strive to celebrate our growing cultural expansion in Northwest Arkansas, but we also feel it is our responsibility to help educate our community and campus on the positive impact music and the arts can play in cultural change and awareness,” Cotton-Leachman adds. “This is our first endeavor with the King Fahd Center, and we are looking forward to working with them during our three-year partnership.”

Siraj, whose music has been described as a marriage of traditional Middle Eastern music, jazz, flamenco and pop, took a moment from her international schedule to answer a few questions for The Free Weekly.

Q. What influenced your decision to become a musician?

A. When I was 3 years old, my mother signed me up as a singer in a children’s chorus and enrolled me in piano lessons. The moment I got on stage for our first performance, I was hooked! I was only 3, but my mother saw my eyes light up and knew that music would be in my future. She could never have guess it would become my career, but I am grateful that she encouraged me to keep learning music. People often ask how did I choose music, but in way I feel music chose me. Ever since that first experience on stage, I took every opportunity I had to get back on stage, and I have been extremely fortunate to have a career in music where I get to share music with people around the world.

Q. At what moment, what event, what performance, did you realize you had “made it”?

A. I have never had a moment where I have felt that I have “made it,” because as an artist you always want to be moving forward, and humility is very important to keep you grounded. Every experience in your career is a step forward. There are definitely moments in my career that are very special to me, and those include performing at the United Nations and being recognized for my humanitarian work through music, as well as performing at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center. One very special moment was collaborating with the fabulous Indian composer A.R. Rahman and the lovely Ani Choying of Nepal, for an episode on MTV Coke Studio. We did not know what would come of this collaboration, but it hit No. 1 in the charts in India and No. 3 in the Middle East. That was a big honor for me. Of course, collaborating with musicians around the world is one of the joys of creating music and helps you expand and grow as a musician. I also must say that I feel very fortunate to have a loving, kind and open audience, and it is really the audience and fans that make the experience special.

Q. How does music help spread your message of peace?

A. Music moves people. It has immense power and can make people feel emotional about causes they may never have even heard about. Music creates a transcendental experience for the listener where they are open to learning about humanitarian causes on an emotional level and not just an intellectual level. That is why I believe music is so powerful. Also, as a multicultural artist, I believe music is a way for people to unite, where we put down our guards and are able to appreciate and embrace our diversity. Through music I aim to raise awareness about humanitarian causes and to inspire people to make positive changes in their lives and the lives of others. We are all connected, and those of us who are fortunate enough not to be living in war or conflict have to realize we have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. Also, as an artist, I am particularly sensitive to the suffering of other humans, and animals as well, and try to bring awareness about it through my music.

— Becca Martin-Brown

Categories: Entertainment, Music