Farah Fersi is a Tunisian-Turkish musician who went viral after her unique Game of Thrones cover on the kanun.
The beating waves of technology have constantly influenced the world of music. In an age dominated by the digital; from digital instruments to digital streams, 21-year-old Farah Fersi has hung onto the authenticity of live music through playing the kanun.
The kanun is a string instrument known in the Middle East, West Africa, Central Asia and Southeastern regions of Europe. It is widely considered as a descendant of the old Egyptian harp and Farah has dedicated 7 years so far to master it.
Farah’s Tunisian and Turkish roots allowed her to be exposed to the sounds of the kanun from an early age. Speaking to MangoBaaz, she expressed why she chose to learn this instrument in particular.
“I wanted to learn it because people said it is so hard and that actually encouraged me even more. I love challenges and believe that we have to always try new things and never be afraid. It doesn’t matter whether we succeed or whether we fail- at least we learn something. I always admired listening to the kanun as a child so I tried it, despite the fact that people said it would be too difficult.”
Farah’s commitment to learning the kanun, in spite of people discouraging her, is admirable. Her hard work has certainly paid off, too as she filled us in on some of the exciting concerts that she has played across North Africa and the Middle-East.
“I’ve played in concerts in Tunisia, Turkey, Kuwait, and Algeria. I’ve been lucky enough to play alongside some Arabic stars like Sherine, Ragheb Alama, Goksel Baktagir and Aytac Doğan. The best sensation I had was when I played in the Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage in Tunisia. It was really special because it’s the most famous historical theatre in Tunisia. There was a huge crowd too that was just amazing.”
Here she is receiving praise from Lebanese superstar singer Ragheb Alama and playing from the heart on stage at the Carthage Theatre.
Despite being in high-demand on big stages, Farah still finds time to experiment with the kanun and re-create familiar sounds for her audience.
A recent cover of the Game of Thrones soundtrack got her 2 million views on Twitter in just 2 days! “I’ve done many covers and many types of music. I love doing them! The music of Game of Thrones is fantastic and it was exciting when people all over the world shared it.”
Farah has also impressively recorded her own music videos covering some of her favorite music artists like Dalida, a famous French singer.
In a divided world, where we tend to focus on our differences as human beings, rather than our similarities, some may say that music is an art form that has the capacity to bring people together. Farah clearly feels passionate about such an idea and can be seen using her platform and talent to encourage both social and political change.
Farah believes that “music is a common language.”
“For example, in my Game of Thrones video, when I read the comments, I realized that people all over the world saw it and admired it. The comments were in all different languages and sometimes I don’t understand them but I know that they are positive thoughts. With music, we don’t need to speak. People can understand you with a simple sound or by the way you look when you’re playing it on camera. Music can definitely bring people together. When we listen, we forget about our language, our religion, our country, and our problems. Music brings people together for love and for peace. If all people speak music, then we can certainly forget about racism and war.”
Farah had some refreshing comments about being a successful female musician in North Africa and the Middle-East.
“As a woman, I feel so proud about what I’m doing and I continuously try to develop my skills. I don’t feel that I struggled because of my gender at all – society is much more open-minded and educated now. Of course, there were problems but I just tried to view everything in a positive light in order to carry on.”
“I’m a human being before my gender and I have the right to do what I love. Everybody has the right to do this – everybody is free.”
For anyone thinking about turning their passion for playing an instrument into a career, Farah suggested that “before starting anything, you have to believe in yourself and be confident. If you are not, you will give up as soon as you face the first hurdle. Work, patience and confidence are key.”
“Everyone has to accept you for who you are. You can’t continue to be afraid of people and society – that will never change your life for the better. We grow up so fast and don’t always achieve our purpose. You have to take the first step and initiate the change.”
Whatever age or stage we are at in our lives, or whatever, class, color or creed we belong to, it’s safe to say that Farah’s words here can resonate with all of us. She reminded us of what is truly important when going after our dreams, particularly when we feel unsupported in the pursuit of them.
Farah also wanted to communicate her delight at being interviewed for the “beautiful country and people of Pakistan.”
Check out Farah’s Instagram and YouTube pages for more stunning videos of her playing the kanun and let us know what you think in the comments below – you’ll be missing out if you don’t!
Cover image via Farah Fersi/ @farahfersi