“Music is the mirror to how we feel. How we touch. How we see. How we dream. They reveal our true colors. They share our story. But our emotions aren’t really who we are… No one’s emotions are. They’re merely a moment. A peek into the way we perceive. But my music… That’s exactly who I am. Sometimes I’m a storm. Sometimes I’m a quiet sea. But this is me. Layered. Raw. Real. My music is me… All of me.”
For Dearborn native Zaina Berri, music is inherently who she is, all the way down to her soul. Between working seven days a week and learning two new languages, the singer-songwriter has been busy trying to record and release her debut album.
“I think the only thing that bothered me was trying to get the music out to share it with others because that’s what art is meant to be, it’s meant to be shared,” said Berri. “It’s very crucial for someone who’s creative to express their art, as well as share it.”
She released her first single “Goodbye Lie” back in 2014, and then the raw and real “Me & My Mind” in 2015. Her soulful voice and honest lyrics will move through your earbuds and hit you right in the feels.
Her song “Mama” is a personal one she released in 2016. “I didn’t know if I wanted to share such an unfiltered, honest story since it’s about my private childhood struggles,” she wrote on her Soundcloud. “But I’d be disrespecting my soul if I didn’t share what it wanted to scream out for so long.”
The song “Little Man” is about a guy who hides behind his ego, “On the surface he’s a smooth talkin ladies’ man, but all that attention just feeds his ego and not his lonely, insecure soul.”
The 28-year-old describes her music as a mixture of who she is, “I would say it’s pop, but it is its own kind of pop and it takes inspiration from different genres [like jazz and R&B].”
When Berri started writing songs at only 11 years old, it came very naturally to her as a way to express herself and process her emotions. “I never thought of it as something like ‘Oh I want to do this,’ it was just a part of who I am,” she said. “It was more of a necessity than anything else.”
Then when she was 15, she picked up the guitar and piano for the first time, and has been making music ever since. Musical inspiration comes to her in many forms and comes very sporadically.
“Sometimes songs will be inspired by a conversation, or I’ll have a word pop into my head and the entire song will revolve around what that word relates to,” Berri said. “Sometimes it flows out by itself, but the only thing that is common between every single song I’ve written is that the lyrics and the melody are always together. Usually it’s more of a marriage between the melody and the word, and then trying to find the music to go with it.”
“If there are things on my mind or this song is stuck in my head and I’m trying to get it out, it oozes out by itself.”
When it comes to musical influences, Berri says Camila Cabello and Alessia Cara are her top two idols because of their style of music, their songwriting and even the way they carry themselves. (She’s also a big fan of K-pop!)
“You can just tell the people that make music for the right reasons and the artists who are just there for the corporate side of everything,” Berri said. “You can tell because of the way their mind works when they talk about music and how they write a song, it’s very much the way I think of it–in a way where it takes up 90 percent of your brain, and anything and everything inspires you. That’s what a songwriter should be. And they take it very seriously because it’s who they are and I respect that a lot.”
While trying to find the time and resources to record her album, Berri has stayed busy working at a senior center in the activities department during the week and at a Korean cafe on the weekends, all while also learning Korean and Spanish, as well as taking dance classes.
But the desire to release the music she’s been sitting on is increasing, and becoming increasingly difficult to keep to herself. She already has 40 to 50 songs ready and waiting to be picked.
“The overall goal is and always will be to reach as many people with my music as possible,” said Berri. “But as long as I record and release the album this year I think I will feel that sense of release that I’ve been needing to feel… There’s a lot of emotion and anxiety that needs to be released just by completing this body of work that I’ve been working hard on for many many years.”
You can check out Zaina Berri’s music on Soundcloud, Spotify or iTunes and stay tuned for the release of her debut album!