Lebanese artist Tania Kassis is preparing for her first performance at the famous Parisian Olympia Music Hall on October 19th.
Kassis, who chose Jhony Maalouf to perform with her on this important evening, is one of only a handful of Lebanese artists chosen to sing at the Olympia, where no Lebanese artist has performed in 14 years. Maalouf is best known for his participation in the French version of the television programme "The Voice".
Kassis spoke with Al-Shorfa about the upcoming performance.
Al-Shorfa: What does the October 19th performance mean to you?
Tania Kassis: I normally do not like odd numbers and this important date in my career happens to fall on a day that is an odd number. I think this will open new doors for me and I also like to face my fears, because of the gains I get from such challenges. For this reason, I hope this date will be an important one even though I have lot of fear and awe about standing and singing on stage at the French Olympia Music Hall, following in the footsteps of our ambassador Fairouz, who sang at that theatre many times, as well as Sabah and Majida al-Roumi.
Al-Shorfa: How do you describe your feelings about being selected to sing at this [famous] venue?
Kassis: My happiness is so great that words would not do it justice. The Olympia Theatre is every artist's dream regardless of their nationality. I will stand on that stage with Lebanon in my heart as I present it in its most beautiful image, contrary to how it is currently portrayed by the media. What I intend to present will paint a picture of a generation that believes in peace and co-existence.
Al-Shorfa: Will you sing solely in French?
Kassis: I have prepared a large selection of French, Lebanese and English songs. As for my Lebanese songs, they are well-known but I will sing them in a new music arrangement. My French and English songs are also widely known and I will present them in a new eastern music arrangement so that the audience will get a taste of how we colour music with our own style. There will also be new songs in English that are being written specifically for this event to eastern music tunes.
Al-Shorfa: Why were you chosen to sing at the Olympia Music Hall, a venue not usually available to all artists?
Kassis: I think they like my voice and the messages I send through my songs. I think I was selected in honour of my music because this venue has hosted the greats of music worldwide. From Lebanon, there are Fairuz, Sabah and Majida al-Roumi, who was the last Lebanese singer to sing at the Olympia in 1998.
Al-Shorfa: Why did you choose Jhony Maalouf?
Kassis: I chose him because I am one of his biggest fans. Upon his debut in the French version of "The Voice", I contacted him and congratulated him and was saddened when he left the show. I found an opportunity for him to sing with me at my concert in France so he could introduce himself to French and Lebanese audiences and so that, with this event, he can continue his music career.
Al-Shorfa: What are the messages you will convey through your music?
Kassis: Messages of peace and emphasis on using music instead of weapons, because through music, we can say and demand what we want. I will be singing at a time when ugly pictures are emerging from Lebanon and the Arab world and I will try to convey messages in my own way.
As was the case when I sang "Ave Maria", through which I sent messages about interfaith dialogue and despite the criticism directed to me from those who said it is prohibited to mix religions, I will address the audience through a song I wrote about children and armies for peace in Lebanon and the world. Some of the other themes in my songs deal with issues women face in the world in general.
Al-Shorfa: What kind of responsibility do you expect to shoulder after this event?
Kassis: I cannot tell right now. All I know is that there will be an interaction with the audience from which I will derive my success.