Talents of Amman: Farah Siraj
In support of local talents and the brilliant artists of our city, we bring to you our segment: Talents of Amman!
So celebrate with us! One of our very own, Farah Siraj.
Name: Farah Siraj
Occupation: World Music Artist
Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/farahsirajmusic
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/farahsirajmusic
Named Jordan's “Musical Ambassadress”, jordanian virtuoso Farah Siraj balances a career that spans the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Farah has performed at some of the world's most prestigious platforms, including the United Nations, Nobel Prize Hall, the World Economic Forum, The John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Lincoln Center in New York, MTV, Coke Studio, the TV show Good Morning Live in the USA, MBC TV in the Middle East and the Antena de Oro Awards of Spain. Farah has performed before HM King Abdullah II and HM Queen Rania of Jordan, HM King Juan Carlos of Spain, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HE Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki moon. In addition, Farah represents Jordan annually on United Nations World Peace Day.
Farah, tell us from the very beginning how did you get into this industry?
I started music lessons at 3 years old, and was a chorus singer for Re-mi Bandali! At the age of 4 I had my first solo performance at the Royal Cultural Center and ever since I've been in love with the stage! Growing up I played in all the school talent shows I could and eventually went off to study music at college and went on to be a professional performer.
How do you find the music scene in Amman and Jordan – has it changed?
There are a lot of amazing musicians in Jordan, and every time I go back I get to meet more! Growing up in Amman, there wasn't much of a music industry and the only musicians I knew were my music teachers, but now there are performers, composers, sing-songwriters, arrangers, you name it! That's something I'm very happy to see, and it's a pleasure to collaborate with my fellow jordanian musicians.
Where have you performed? How did fans interact with you differently at performances in different countries?
I feel fortunate to travel the world with my music and meet fans from all around the world. It's interesting to see how the music still gets through, even if some of the songs are in a language the audience might not understand. It's the interaction with the audience and my fans that makes it all worthwhile for me. I have been fortunate to connect with fans in the Arab world, Europe, the USA, Latin America and India, and one thing my fans have in common is that they love culture! They love learning new music and discovering different sounds. They are curious about the world. I love that! I've feel very lucky with my fans!
Did you receive support from your Jordanian fans?
Absolutely, my jordanian fans are very special to me.
You sang a song for HM King Hussein – tell us about that experience:
I admired His Majesty the Late King Hussein very much. There were many reasons for that, among them that he was such a humble and modest leader, and so close to his people. Also, he was a peaceful man, who did everything he could to make the world a more peaceful place. When I wrote that song, I was mourning his passing with my fellow Jordanians. It was my way of paying tribute to His Majesty.
Where is your favorite hang out in Amman?
My favorite hang out is Books @ Cafe, where you have an amazing view of Amman! I used to go there as a teenager, and I love that it hasn't changed one bit!
Who is your favorite Jordanian and foreign talent?
My favorite Jordanian artist is Aziz Maraka, apart from being a very dear friend, he's an incredible artist and a visionary. I have a lot of appreciation for Aziz. And now that we are both based in the United States, we're collaborating more than ever! I also love Hamed Sinno (my cousin!) from Mashrou3 Leila, he's half Jordanian, Tareq Al-Jundi, Dima Bawab, Omar Abdullat, Mitib Al Saggar and Samira Tawfiq, among many others. As for foreign artists, there are so many! Paco de Lucia, Camaron de la Isla, Billy Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Tracy Chapman, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchel to know a few!
You live abroad, how has this shaped your music career?
Living abroad has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, both personally and professionally. Living in new places made me discover different cultures and made me realize even more how we really are all connected, and how we all laugh, cry and love the same. I've also been grateful for the opportunity to represent Jordan abroad. Many of the audiences I perform for might have never met a jordanian before, so I do my best to make a good impression! It's an honor to represent my country!
Who is your mentor?
My mom! She is my driving force. Also, it was my mother who put me on stage for the first time, and she saw my face light up and knew there was something there for me!
What is your advice to young talents wanting a career in music?
Work on your craft. Talent alone is not enough. That's the gift you were given. What you do with that gift is up to you. Being a professional musicians involves hard work, and a strong driving force that to keep you going. It's a long run, and there are no shortcuts, but you have to want it bad enough to make it happen! I would also mention that performing is crucial. Some young musicians spend most of their time locked up practicing, but you have to put yourself out there and get on stage if you want to be heard.
Where is your ultimate dream location to perform?
Carnegie Hall! I've done Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, and they were unforgettable experiences, and now I have Carnegie Hall to check off my list!