Meet Moroccan music sensation Abir Haronni

The 26-year-old singer is noted for challenging the way that Arab women are perceived throughout the world. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 September 2020

Meet Moroccan music sensation Abir Haronni

  • The 26-year-old on her latest EP, ‘Heat,’ and ‘iiving her truth’ by highlighting her Arab roots

BEIRUT: “When we love, we love like fire,” Moroccan pop artist Abir Haronni passionately proclaims. The singer is talking about Arab women, a subject that’s extremely important to her.

Aside from her compelling voice and dedication to showcasing her cultural heritage through the range of pop music that she creates, the 26-year-old singer is noted for challenging the way that Arab women are perceived throughout the world.

“When people anywhere hear the words ‘Arab woman,’ they have one idea in their minds — you can Google it and you’ll see what that image is,” she says with a laugh, although she is clearly not amused. “I’ve never felt represented in that. Arab women are multifaceted, we come in variety, we come from different faiths, we’re a diverse group of human beings.




In “Inferno,” one of the singles off the latest release, she challenges the notion that “women often take the role of the heartbroken ones in a relationship.” (Supplied)

“We have different experiences, perspectives... we are also evolving. We have to feel represented, we have to change that image, to have a different picture popping up on Google,” she adds, with another laugh — this one a little more lighthearted.

“We have to start sharing our unique experiences. That’s what I’m trying to do with my music: it’s all about being able to live in my truth, so that other women can hopefully live in theirs.”

And when it comes to her music, Abir is just as uncompromising in her desire to “brag about” where she is from.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

‘I be getting to this money’ - Shakespeare @dailypaper

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“I want to use my platform to highlight my culture and identity,” she says. “I don’t think that there has been a mainstream pop artist talking loudly and proudly about being Arab and Muslim. Growing up, I would have loved to have a figure like that to look up to,” Abir explains. “So, I would love to be that person, who truly provides representation for people that come from where I come from.”

The singer was born in Fez, Morocco, and even though her family moved to Arlington, Virginia in the US when she was six, “we never left Morocco behind. I was always connected. We didn’t move to the States to forget who we were.”

It was around the same time that music started to become a permanent fixture in her life. “I always say I owe it to my dad, and his huge collection of music. He’d play it for me in the car when picking me up from school or my friends’ houses. On the weekends, we’d be listening to everything from jazz and soul to Arabic music.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Best place

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“I just became so attached to the idea of singing, and I’d mimic the people that I was listening to until I eventually found my own voice,” Abir says.

“Throughout high school and college, I was doing everything I could to get on stage — talent shows, county fairs, bars, open mics... and once I graduated, I was interning in a music studio in (Washington) D.C. when I realized that there would be no way that I was going to live my life without music.”

Indeed, ever since her first release in 2013, and up to her brand new EP “Heat,” Abir has been crafting a unique identity for herself as an artist. In “Inferno,” one of the singles off the latest release, she challenges the notion that “women often take the role of the heartbroken ones in a relationship. That’s nonsense! Because all the women I know are heartbreakers.”

“I wanted to portray the woman and her love as a fire. When we love, we love very hard, but we can also be strong in our wrath when we’re angry. It’s like everything that encompasses a woman’s love is an inferno,” she says.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

INFERNO IS FINALLY YOURS!!!!!! Out everywhere now!!!!!!! RUNNNNN IT UP #LinkInBio

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Everything on the seven-track Heat is a powerful reminder of Abir’s proclivity for honoring her roots — from the seamless fusion of string arrangements and distinctive vocal melodies with earworm pop and western beats to her effortless leaps from English to Arabic and even French lyrics. “That bit of self-celebration is owning who you are despite it being different than other people; not even with my binaries, but who I am as a person, my views, my lens. The things I care about and live for. On this project, I’m speaking about how I love, and not just in relationships. No. It’s how I love life. When you love something, you care for it,” she declares.

“Heat” is Abir’s second EP released by Atlantic Records. “I find working with them so great. When they signed me, I made sure to share my long-term vision. That’s so important — they let me do me. They introduced me to Mick (Schultz, the producer of “Heat”), the guy who’s integral to the sound of the EP — so I’m forever grateful,” she says enthusiastically.

“I may have my cultural heritage, but I am by no means an expert on the music. I needed to learn — about what thoughts and emotions certain instruments evoke, what melodies and rhythms and scales are being used in order to get this type of feeling. Bringing Arabic music to American music requires experience and experimentation. So, I was teaching Mick things he didn’t know, and he was teaching me things that he’d learned. It was all very inspiring,” Abir continues. “Mick is incredible.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Herding goats with a hair flip (swipe to see them jet before we could get our scene )

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Ultimately, Abir stresses that her new release “is about marginalized people. It’s almost like me saying ‘Yallah’ (the title of another single off “Heat”), be who you want to be and let’s ride it out till the end.”

She is looking forward to where that journey will take her next. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global moratorium on live performances have not dampened her enthusiasm. “I’ll be going live on Instagram and doing as many private shows on Zoom as possible. With these tools, you’re not limited to one place — you’re in the Middle East, you’re in Michigan, all at the same time. You can be anywhere you want.

“At the end of the day, I’m grateful and happy to connect with the Middle East and North Africa, whether through this interview or my music” she concludes. “The mission is to have Arab voices heard. To add to the global conversation. To be part of the story.”


Gerard Butler talks family and high-octane action films

Updated 30 September 2020

Gerard Butler talks family and high-octane action films

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood’s latest disaster movie offering, “Greenland,” sees humanity threatened by a comet on a collision course with Earth — Arab News sat down with stars Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin to find out more about the high-octane film.

While many disaster movies focus on experts in big-picture attempts to stop the disaster, “Greenland” keeps the stakes personal by following the Garrity family as they journey to find shelter before it’s too late.

“This story is so relatable because this guy, he’s not a Secret Service agent. He’s not a superhero,” Butler said of his character, John Garrity. “He’s just a dad and he’s not even a perfect dad.”

“Greenland” follows the Garrity family as they journey to find shelter before it’s too late. Supplied

As meteorites decimate cities and people give in to panic, the estranged Garrity family grows closer, mirroring Butler’s real-life relationships with his parents, who despite having not seen him in months due to COVID-19 restrictions, are still just as doting as ever. 

“It’s very sweet that they still care and you’re still their little boy,” Butler said, adding that he mined his relationship with his parents for insight on how to play a caring father. “That definitely helped me in the role, to play that father who will do anything in these trying times to try and protect his family in the midst of this craziness.”

The film was directed by Ric Roman Waugh. Supplied

And while their characters were growing closer, the actors formed a tight knit group as well. Co-star Morena Baccarin told Arab News that she coached and comforted the actor playing the family’s young son — Roger Dale Flloyd — and that she and Butler became good friends on set.

“There are days where you’re just so tired and you’re not in the mood or you don’t want to put yourself through the ringer emotionally,” Baccarin — who plays estranged wife Allison Garrity — said, adding “we just could check in with each other and be there for each other and that was really nice.”

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, the film has faced repeated delays in the US, but has already hit the big screens in some international markets — including Saudi Arabia and the UAE — where COVID-19 regulations have been amended.