By Ashley Alleluya
Carol Souki has a presence that is anything but demure. You know the minute she’s walked into a room. You will feel the energy level in a social setting rise, simply because she’s chosen to attend. You hear her before you see her – her greetings are melodious, her laughs are loud and deep and her sentences have the tendency to end in song. But speak with her for more than two minutes and another layer of Carol emerges. Underneath the carefree, two-steps-away-from-a-hippie personality, lies a character that reminds me of everything strong and purposeful.
“My parents used to sing to me when I was a kid, but nobody in my family was particularly musical,” she tells me. “My mother, however, was a dancer and actor, so I probably got some elements of that from her.” Which, if you watch any of her live performances you know is true – they are definitely performative.
She credits her music teacher at her elementary school and her band and choir experience at her high school in Kuwait with bringing her musical talent to the forefront. It was a school journey that allowed her to travel to countries like Bahrain and Cyprus to perform, and propelled her admission into the Berklee College of Music in Boston, the United States.
“Berklee was a slap in the face,” she laughs. “Imagine going from Kuwait, thinking you have a good voice, you’ve had some solo sections with the choir, you play the flute, and then find yourself among thousands of people from around the world – Tanzania, India, Pakistan. You feel like a tiny little dot who has nothing to offer.”
It was during this period that she stumbled upon Music Therapy.
“I felt like I now had a career path in front of me,” she tells me. “I always wanted to make my own music, but if needed a Plan B, then music therapy would let me work with people, especially children, and give me the opportunity to help out and make it a rewarding experience overall.”
“When I returned back to Kuwait, I started taking up gigs at the Starbucks at Fanar mall through Mike Hayat, a friend. I also met Daffy and the rest of Army of One, with whom I continue working – he, in, fact, is a producer on my tracks. The rest were events at restaurants, shows wherever possible, store openings, performances between Lebanon and Kuwait; whatever works to support my music therapy job and the eventual goal of releasing the album.”
Working on her album was a long, sometimes testing process for Carol.
“This album was supposed to be ready three years ago, but I had to learn how to be patient and have everything come together perfectly.”
The first track from the album that’s been making the rounds on Kuwaiti FM stations and social media, “I Want You”, is written from personal experience. And to bring this track to the public, she needed a music video.
It speaks of Carol’s assertiveness that she found a way to incorporate water into the video as she had originally planned.
“I wanted the beach to be featured somehow, but then we found these lakes by our new location and I knew I had to use them.” It was the same with a background in the video. “I knew the coloring of it would work perfectly with my aesthetic. Some of the most positive comments for my video were about that background, thanks to Ayda and her fabulous editing, and the help of Adel El- Assaad, my sister Sara, and Moe Al Saeed” she smiles.
As we speak and raise our coffee mugs to an album with potential, she tells me she still hasn’t found a title for it yet.
“Maybe during this, we’ll come up with something,” she laughs (we don’t). And this is Carol’s way with those around her. She engages with every person she meets, draws them into her life through deceptively futile interactions, and etches herself into your memory.
“For me, being happy is important. I dream big. But realistically, I look for what it takes for me to be happy. I knew I would be happy if I released my own album. Now that I have, I’ll see what dream comes after that.”
For more on Carol Souki, follow @carolsoukimusic on Instagram or visit www.carolsoukimusic.com. Originally published on www.kingdome.co. You can follow Kingdome on Facebook and Soundcloud @KingdomeMagazine, Instagram @Kingdome.co, Twitter @KingdomeCo and on YouTube: Kingdome Magazine. Photography by Sara Souki & Mohammad Chehimi. Art Direction by Adel El-Assaad // A.EL.A Communications @aela.communications.