Music Without Borders: Q&A with Farah Siraj

Farah Siraj, Jordanian singer and songwriter, has performed at the United Nations, Nobel Prize Hall, and World Economic Forum and had a #1 hit song in India. She shares her unique style of worldly music, a delightful Eastern and Western fusion.

Farah Siraj at TEDMED 2014
Farah Siraj at TEDMED 2014

What motivated you to perform at TEDMED?

It was a true pleasure performing at TEDMED. Also, the fact that we got to take the stage at the John F. Kennedy Center was a dream come true! Above all, what I love about TEDMED is that it is a platform for innovative, out-of-box thinkers to come together and share their ideas and discoveries with one another. It was definitely an eye-opening experience! TEDMED talks make you think twice about things!

What were a few TEDMED 2014 talks or performances left an impression on you?

One of the highlights of TEDMED for me was Diana Nyad’s talk. I find her fascinating— Diana is the perfect example of someone who didn’t give up on her dream, and how something can look impossible until you make it possible. There were so many odds against her each time she set out to sea, and yet that didn’t stop her. Diana’s talk was inspiring, charismatic and uplifting. When we met, I just had to give her a huge hug and tell her what an inspiration she is to me!
Dominick Farinacci’s performance was very inspiring. Music has profound healing powers and Dominick’s music is an example of that. Also, it’s great when an artist walks you through the story of their music, it gives you an understanding of where they were in their life when they wrote it. Great performance and great artist! We got to join our bands and create music on stage at the evening celebration, an experience I will always cherish.
I really enjoyed Rosie King’s talk. She talked about how autism is never a one-size-fits-all thing. It is a reminder of how far we still have to go in the field of understanding autism and providing the best support for autistic children and their families. Rosie was also an example of the brilliant intellectual abilities that often come with autism and are often overlooked. In the Middle East, autism awareness is finally taking off and my music was used in the first video campaign in Arabic to raise awareness about autism in the Arab world. It’s a cause I support wholeheartedly.

What kind of meaningful or surprising connections did you make at TEDMED?

The fact that the majority of TEDMED attendees were in in the medical field led me to meet people so far out of my field. I loved it! I had lots of fun conversations with people and got to connect with some really inspiring people and make new friendships.

Farah Siraj at TEDMED 2014
Farah Siraj at TEDMED 2014

What is the legacy you want to leave?

I believe I was given the gift of music so that I could use it for the greater good: to help and heal others through music, and to inspire people to make a positive change in their lives and the lives of others. My hope is that fulfilling that mission will be my legacy, as well as to be remembered as someone who helped amplify the voices of others who needed to be heard.