Ashley Zarah’s “AWAKE” is a Cross-Cultural Pop Glimpse of a Better Tomorrow

Ashley Zarah, photo courtesy the artist

With “AWAKE,” Ashley Zarah has perfectly synthesized Western pop songcraft with traditional Iranian music and other cultural musical styles. Her vocal cadence is partly based on Iranian cha-cha which gives it a fluidity and flexibility in compound time that also gives it that entrancingly hypnotic quality. The broad arrange of instrumentation in the percussion and stringed instruments goes beyond giving the song an exotic edge as they are fully integrated into the songwriting and in the modern era when pop artists are pulling from so many sources through samples and working cross genre and cross method one would assume that there would be more cross-pollination of influence the way African rhythms and sounds were adopted even more directly by American and European artists in the 70s and the 80s. Sure, Eddie Vedder and Massive Attack worked with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the first international star of qawwali, on some brilliant pieces and “world music” may have been very much a thing for nearly four decades, but in Zarah’s songwriting you hear a sound of the future where all cultures can coexist and peacefully influence each other in a manner fruitful and edifying. As an advocate for mental health awareness, suicide prevention and gender and cultural representation, Ashley Zarah imbues her music with those perspectives as well. Watch the video and follow Zarah at the links below.