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Love Letter To A Record: SAYAH On Amy Winehouse’s ‘Frank’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become. 

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

SAYAH – Amy Winehouse, Frank (2003)

I remember being at school and all my friends would be singing the lyrics to the latest pop song
whilst I kinda mumbled along pretending to know the words. The truth was, I had no idea what the
hell they were on about.

Being first-generation Lebanese, my childhood was different. I didn’t grow up listening to the radio
or classics like the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac. Instead, my parents brought me up to the sounds of
Fairuz and Sabah – powerhouse Lebanese singers.

In hindsight, my magnetism to a strong female voice probably began there. 

As I started to discover pop and western music, it wasn’t long until I was completely bewildered
with the greats like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Donny Hathaway and my all-time favourite –
Billie Holiday. Man, there was something about Billie.

Fast forward a few years, I started singing lessons and learnt and listened to a lot of pop music. I loved singing it, but nothing quite hit me like this older sound did. Frank, you were the first time I’d heard something come out in a ‘pop world’ that was so heavily jazz-influenced. I listened to you from start to finish and kept you on repeat for months. Your lyrics and melodies.. your chords and production.. my mind was blown. I instantly felt connected to you, like we had so much in common. 

The honesty in your lyric, how brutal you could be – I’d never heard anything like it – and if you don’t know what I mean, look up the lyrics to ‘I heard love is blind’. 

I specifically remember the first time I heard your little melodic & lyrical ode to Sarah Vaughn in the track ‘October Song’. That was the moment I knew I wanted to write too, not just sing. You opened my mind and expanded my world to the idea that I too could also be an artist. 

I wouldn’t describe my sound now so much as similar to you, but you are definitely where my journey began. You literally drew the writer out of me and you will always be my favourite because of that.

SAYAH’s new single ‘Fruit’ is the first new music in two years. Listen to it below. The artist is touring with Cosmo’s Midnight throughout 2021 as their lead vocalist. SAYAH will also play a headlining show at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory this May as part of the ‘Women in Pop Live’ series. Tickets here.

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