Midnight Jazz

Singer/model Mary Fakhoury discusses eclectic music, speaks out on industry

April 28, 2008
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An Interview with Mary Fakhoury

Written by Vivian Fields

Mary Fakhoury is not an easy artist to catagorize, but the dreamy soulfulness of her voice transcends any stylistic leap-frogging. On her aptly titled five-track EP Universal Worlds, Fakhoury challenges the listener with a decidedly varied menu, everything from piano jazz covers (the immortal “Someone to Watch Over Me,” delivered here with character and palpable longing) to world music (“El-donia,” sung in Arabic) to French balladry (“La Vie En Rose”).

Vivian Fields: There’s an eclecticism in your music that many artists today simply aren’t capable of fulfilling. Have you always had a larger vision of what you want musically? How did this come about?

Mary Fakhoury: When we are asked as listeners what kind of music do we like, we normally have a variety: jazz, pop, opera. So if we are capable to do so as artists why can’t we create music that falls under different genres? My image of music is larger than life; my syles and love for what I do are always changing. I have been told that my mind works a million miles a minute, but I am so greatful for these gifts. I am super creative and think outside the box always. I think [that’s because of] the exposure that I had growing up the child of singers, I was exposed to everything on a daily basis, Arabic operas to Indian music to Frank Sinatra.

Fields: Why do you think there’s so few women being played on the radio these days?

Fakhoury: I don’t know why there are fewer women being played on the radio? Maybe because some of them are to busy getting into trouble, who knows, but I know there are some amazing singers on the up and coming. The radio does not always display the best, just the ones who made it.

Fields: You’re a model as well as a singer. Which came first: Your desire to model or create music? Describe the genesis of each career move.

Fakhoury: My desire to create music has always been a first. I went into modeling to help bring me out of that shell of fear of being in the entertainment business. I’ve really been modeling and singing and acting at the same time, but music was definitely the first of my ventures. I work in Chicago as a print model, and I also do some acting gigs. I love all three of them, but music is my baby.

Fields: Do you feel that jazz music has become too much of a boys’ club lately?

Fakhoury: Yes, I do feel jazz has become a bit of a boys’ club. I don’t know why so many female artists are flocking to pop; they can do a little of both if that’s their style.

Fields: So many female artists these days, no matter what the genre, fall into the industry trap of wearing scantily-clad outfits and outrageous behavior to promote themselves. What are your thoughts on that, honestly speaking?

Fakhoury: I’ve never found that to be attractive. There is a fine line between being sexy and being vulgar. Much of what we see today is vulgar; you show too much and you leave nothing to the imagination. Let’s take Marilyn Monroe as an example of sexy. She is no doubt the sexiest woman on the planet, but what made her so sexy? Was it that she went out to public places without wearing underwear? (We don’t know; she didn’t show it.) No, it was her personality, beauty, and natural flirtiness that oozed sex appeal without being vulgar. She had “it” and knew how to use “it.” It angers me how many of today’s female artists take that vulgar route. If it’s to sell more than your not being true to your art, because it’s not who you are. I have had to overcome so many barriers going into music because of the strict Middle Eastern upbringing I was raised in. My parents thought that I would have to become sleazy or trashy, and that’s simply not true. Why can’t we take the classy artists as examples who count on their vocals to get them through a show and their other amazing talents, not how tight and scantily-clad their outfits are? Vulgarity is a dime a dozen, and I choose to be a diamond in the rough. I don’t want to rely on my looks. I want to rely on my talent and my brain. Sex sells but it doesn’t make it right. We are artists, aren’t we? Selling our music?

Fields: What musicians are role models for you? Do you have any?

Fakhoury: I have many musicians that are role models. I am really old school with a new age twist. I love Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf, and yes, Madonna. I know she has done some really shocking things, But I have never seen a more intelligent artist with a drive and ambition to keep going. You have to be special to stay in the marketĀ as longĀ as she has. My dad is a role model, too; he gets on the stage and he owns it.

Fields: Where were you born and raised? Did you come from a family that loved or created music, too?

Fakhoury: I was born in Michigan, and raised in Chicago and Los Angeles. I came from a music family, my father is one of the best in his genre of music and has been touring and performing since he was eight years old, in Arabic.

Fields: How long have you been doing music?

Fakhoury: I have been doing music for the last 10 years now. I got a little later start because of the walls placed in front of me. My parents did not allow me to sing; now they see the light and understand it’s not the profession – it’s the person. You can be a “doctor” and be a sleaze bucket.

Fields: What excites you more: Being onstage or in front of a camera?

Fakhoury: Being on stage is more exciting. You have a live audience; it’s your one shot. You can’t say, “Can I do that over?” It will be disastrous. But being on stage, for sure, it’s euphoric.

http://www.myspace.com/maryfakhoury

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About author

Julian Wilson, Editor, has been writing about different genres of music, from jazz to techno, for nearly two decades in print.

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