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Standout Track: No. 6, “Here Again,” a gentle waltz carried by lithe piano. Simultaneously contrasting with and complementing that delicacy is Seikaly’s robust, throaty voice, leaping effortlessly across rich chords with a sentimental soliloquy: “This is where old stories end, and the new ones begin/to feel so out of place, they hide in pictures I erase/but something in the air reminds me of home.”
Musical Motivation: “Here Again” is about “going back to a physical place that meant something to you at some point in your life,” says Seikaly, “and it’s totally different, but you’re still reminded of all your memories.” She was inspired by nostalgia for the woods that once surrounded her childhood home in Falls Church, Va., where she would go as a teenager to write poetry.
Sopra-no: Seikaly is a classically trained singer, taking voice lessons since her teenage years. By the time she graduated from University of Maryland with a degree in vocal performance, she was already an accomplished mezzo-soprano with a substantial and growing operatic repertoire. There was only one problem: “I didn’t really want to be an opera singer,” she says. “I didn’t think I could keep up with the demands of a classical career—drinking tea all day and wearing scarves all day to protect your voice. I wasn’t passionate enough about it to make that sacrifice; my passion was in jazz.”
Lena Seikaly performs Feb. 19 at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival.