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The Chronicles of a first CD recording.....
by Zein Al-Jundi

A glimpse into the past......
It seems like I have sung before I could talk and danced before I could walk.....for as far back as I can remember, nothing made me happier than doing either one and by the time I was in first grade, I had already begun singing regularly on Syria's TV and radio stations, I was turning my favorite books into musicals and had taught my first dance choreography to a selected number of my class mates and  debuted it at Al Hamra Theater (the largest and nicest in Syria's capital city of Damascus) as a part of the school's end of the year show, which was funded by the government, featured a variety of music, dance and theater pieces and was attended by an audience of hundreds. 

I still have a very clear image in my head of myself young enough to not be able to carry an accordion standing up, sitting on our balcony (it felt like I was performing to an audience out there :-) composing music on the instrument and singing it out loud.  And I can see myself still in elementary school standing in front of the full length mirror at the house and bellydancing to some song or another that struck a chord inside of me that I had to express it with the moves that I put together.  I spent hours daily listening to different songs, singing them over and over again till that one trill came out exactly the way I wanted to hear it. 

For the next several years, through teenage-hood and all, in a song and a dance, I always expressed something inside and got such joy in doing so......

The funny thing though is, in spite how all this came so naturally to me and how huge of a part it played in my daily life, I never once thought of it as 'a destiny' kind of thing--something that I would not want to live without for the rest of my life.....it was always just something fun that I was doing at the time because I was good at it.....something when I was old enough would very easily be put aside for good to make room for college and the architecture career that I always wanted to have and dreamed of......

Yes, Architecture.....for as early as I sang and danced, I also knew and always made the declaration that I wanted to become an architect (have a kid's magazine clipping of an interview I did in third grade to prove it :-))  I was so clear on this destiny that I got mad even when my dad joked about 'if the family ever goes broke, we can always fall back on Zein's music and dance to pull us out' because "I WANTED TO BE AN ARCHITECT; I AM NOT GOING TO BE A SINGER OR A DANCER"......

So I did.....I graduated from UT, Austin with an undergraduate degree in Architecture in the Summer of 1988 with a two months old little boy in my arm and a two year old one holding the other one (my greatest accomplishment in life, my kids:  Jamil and Kareem :-).  A couple of years later, I also went back to school for a graduate degree in Urban Design as I wanted to work with Low Income Housing and eventually be off somewhere remote and underdeveloped to build homes for the poor--a vision I will, at some point in my life, still do......

I am not sure if it was the fact that Architecture in the end turned out to NOT be what I was meant to do in my life, the 'hardship' of the circumstances of my life at the time or a combination of both but somehow, something was missing......something seemed to not completely fit and I found myself on so many occasions unmotivated to do what it would have taken to get to what I had set myself out to do with my Architectural degree.....maybe it was really not that I was not meant to be an architect building homes for the poor, but 'me not singing' not being the right thing to do either.......however, the possibility of 'singing...music and dance' at the time I was going to school never crossed my mind; I really had put it out of my sight and my life for good when I moved to the US from Syria.  No one in my new US life knew I even sang a note in my life......no one knew I ever performed (singing, dancing, acting or any of the performing arts  I did on regular basis growing up).  I never talked about it not even to my children and, in a strange way, that part of my life was so long gone that I never thought of it myself .....sad but true, I almost forgot that I ever did any of that myself.......all I wanted to do was figure out how to tackle the business world, start my career in Architecture--the part of my life I had yet but needed to figure out (in looking at the full picture, dealing with life's unexpected twists and turns and being an 'on hands' kind of mom to my kids was at times not easy but tackled successfully :)

We have a saying in Arabic that translates into 'don't hate something as it may turn out to be a blessing for you' (la takrahou shay'an, a'asa an yakouna khayron lakom).......the 'something' for me turned out to be a car accident at the time I was finishing my Urban Design degree, which  forced me then to put 'architecture' on the back burner till I recovered from the injuries I sustained and got in the way of finishing my degree and launching my architecture career.

Long story short (it's long enough already :-) it took a car accident and being temporarily physically debilitated (and all that entailed) to realize that music (and dance) is a passion in me that never died but had laid dormant for a long time (about 18 years to be exact)......and erupted with no permission at some of the darkest moments, bringing the joy with it that made life lighter and brighter......it took a lot of trusting in one's instincts/walking through the doors that open in one's life by some heavenly intervention to get here.....now......Zein, the owner of The Arabic Bazaar, teacher of Middle Eastern dance and......for five years now, singer of Arabic music, writing about the recording of her first CD......

To be continued......

 

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