When 26-year-old Moroccan singer Abir was negotiating to sign with Atlantic Records three years ago, she decided that her goal as an artist would be to bring Arab representation to mainstream music. Having surrounded herself with “diverse, strong women,” she strives to live her personal and professional life authentically.
Abir began singing around age six, imitating jazz artists in the backseat of her father’s limousine in her hometown of Fez. The artist practiced day and night, and over time, she found her own voice, learning new vocal techniques to make her sound unique. She started traveling to New York City, taking any gig that came her way. Today, she writes her own songs infused with Arab melodies and runs. “Sometimes I sing in Arabic just to give myself a different vibe, and then switch the lyrics to English,” she notes.
One of her latest singles, “Inferno,” features the line “I can’t be who you want / No, I don’t wanna play the part.” “It sums up how I feel about being a woman in 2020,” she states. “I’ve gotten a lot better at saying no to the things that don’t suit me. I can’t be someone I’m not just for someone else’s benefit. I refuse to.” To up-and-coming female artists, she offers, “Study the greats, learn to write your own music – the power is in the pen – and sing anywhere and everywhere that can help get your voice heard.”
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Originally published in the September 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia