Lebanese French singer Yara Lapidus breathes a breath of fresh air to Lennon’s classic song “How” with her Arabic Adaption HOW-KIF
PARIS, Nov. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Into a troubled world sweeps the sensuous, reflective voice of Yara Lapidus, whose journey from Beirut to Cairo and Paris , then London’s Abbey Road Studios and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, has led to a stunning set of songs that reach our ears like a gentle breeze on a sultry summer day. From a bilingual pair of covers of John Lennon’s “How,” to her collaborations with Brazil’s Chico César, Palestinian oud virtuosos Simon Shaheen and Adnan Joubran, and even punk pioneer Iggy Pop, Yara’s U.S. debut release, Just a Dream Away, reveals a voice blooming with understated power, and an artist unconstrained by genre and convention. The album has charted for several weeks on the New Age Album Billboard Charts positioning at #4 and climbing. It also has been nominated in several categories on this year’s first 62nd Grammy Awards ballot, and now is nominated for best Adult Contemporary Song Just A Dream Away, and best produced song of the year for HOW-KIF for the album’s Music Producer Dawn Elder at this year’s Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) taking place in Los Angeles on November 20, 2019.
Yara sings in English, French and Lebanese Arabic, always the effortless, seductive coo and sigh we associate with greats like Fairuz, Astrud Gilberto, Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, and Sade, who, like Yara, began her career as a fashion designer. That life, and Yara’s career as a guitarist, came to an abrupt end in 2010 when a routine operation on her collarbone left her without the use of her left hand. In spite of this devastating disability, Yara carried on, her destiny now to sing and write poetic lyrics. Yara applies lyrics to musical compositions as deftly as a master painter graces a canvas. “Images have always come easily to me,” says the mother-of-two, whose imagination was nurtured by stories read by candlelight as a child, inspired by French scribes Rimbaud and Verlaine, and contemporary wordsmith Boris Vian. Yara’s triumph over her disability sends a powerful message to all who face such challenges.
Just a Dream Away was born of a two-year collaboration with Oscar-winning composer, musician and producer Gabriel Yared, who created music for such iconic films as Cold Mountain and The English Patient. Yared spent two years working with Yara, composing tunes specifically to compliment Yara’s unique aesthetic. Both of these artists were born in Lebanon and share the memory of its traumatic civil war (1975-90), a searing emotional undertone that colors the transcendent melancholy that pervades this luminous album.
Just a Dream Away reached fruition in the hands of award-winning Lebanese-American music producer Dawn Elder, widely acclaimed for her productions of major global artists. Elder draws on a deep well of superb session musicians in L.A. including Grammy winners Louis Conte, Vinnie Colaiuta, Sean Hurly, Matt Rhode and Errol Cooney, all of whom bring the final polish to this wonderfully organic collaborative album. Elder also brought in vocal stylist/producer Lynne Fiddmont, who has fine-tuned performances by stars from Stevie Wonder to Barbara Streisand. Says Yara, “I almost never dared to think that one day I might make a beautiful, timeless record featuring artists I adore.” The album’s title song, sung both in English and Arabic, was composed by American composers Steve Dorff and Michael Jay. Yara fell in love with the song and made it the centerpiece of this project. John Lennon’s “How” is rendered in both Arabic and English versions, each with spare ensemble backing, mostly piano and oud.
Perhaps the album’s biggest surprise, “Encor Encor,” opens with Yara interweaving her voice with gentle piano arpeggios. But then the song takes an unexpected turn into pulsing rock with the still more unexpected voice of Iggy Pop, who merges an uncharacteristically tender croon with his trademark baritone gravitas. The track is made all the more delightful for the its curiously familiar music: Yared’s theme from “37 °2 le matin” – or in English, “Betty Blue.”
This is the work of a consummate artist with unbridled ambition and unconstrained creative impulses. Yara attributes her openness to her bicultural, oriental and Western background. “I have an oriental side that is very emotional and the oud captures this very well,” she says. “My European side is more self-contained, reflective. I like to think my music is a bridge from one to the other.” And with Just a Dream Away, her music will prove a bridge to a much wider audience.
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