Fafa

  • WordsAmira Asad
  • PhotographerNarisa Ladak
  • Assistant photographerMohamed Abdel Waheb
  • VideographerAqib Anwar
  • StylistMashael Alsaie

Fafa is an open book. In first five minutes of meeting her, we’re already knees deep in discussion about her battles with mental health and her frustrations with its lack of visibility, or the lack of discussion around it, in today’s society. I’ve learned that she makes a killer vegan mac n’ cheese dish and has an instagram account dedicated to her herbivore creations. Everything about the Emirati-Honduran singer and songwriter is loud. Her curly black hair that climbs and tangles and bounces with each breath, loud. Her opinions, loud. ‘I was always one of those people with big dreams,’ she smiles.

To the public eye, Fafa’s musical career may seem to have just begun, with just a selection of her content available online through YouTube and snippets of live performances and studio visits posted to her Instagram.

Her soothing voice –– powerful in its range –– often dancing over the sounds of acoustics. However, music has been an integral element of Fafa’s life since the age of eight, when her substitute piano teacher caught on to her singing potential during one of her lessons. ‘The substitute happened to be a singing teacher and when I would play piano, she told me that I wasn’t saying the notes i was singing them –– that I had or tone or something,’ she says, remembering her as the first person to push that she pursue singing lessons. So from there I just started singing all the time, anywhere I could sing. People would be like do that little song you were doing in the living room,’ she jokes.

Now performing on stages at Manarat al Saadiyat and Warehouse 421 in Abu Dhabi, as well as on radio stations in Dubai and Sharjah, Fafa speaks comfortably about the obstacles and failures that she’s met, and continues to face, along the way. At 15 years old, she met with people in the music industry and was told that she wasn’t ready yet, and in the following years she was rejected by judges of The Voice and American Idol. ‘There were a lot of failures that are inevitable if you’re in this industry, but it’s those that keep pushing for it that are successful – even if not on a global scale, but within themself there’s still an accomplishment.’

It’s exactly this mindset, to break away from comfort and delve into the nitty gritty, even if its taboo, that makes Fafa’s music likeable. For her, she says, writing music and singing has been integral to her own healing processes as someone who struggles with depression. In her song ‘The Sky Cries With Me’, for example, she opens up about this, and over the years the response from friends and listeners has been rewarding. ‘I’d receive messages and phone calls from people who would be like “this is what I’m going through right now and I’m so glad there’s someone else out there going through this.”’

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