Originally published on Turnstylenews.com, a digital information service surfacing emerging stories in news, entertainment, art and culture; powered by award-winning journalists.
By: Seher Sikandar
Photo Credit: Seher Sikandar/Turnstyle NewsHindi Zahra Plays Hiro Ballroom for CMJ
Singer-songwriter Hindi Zahra is not for the faint of heart. Her debut album, Handmade, is a true labor of love with years in the making. The Parisian-Moroccan artist creates exceptionally honest and palpable music, fusing East and West to birth something almost spiritual. Parts of her may be reminiscent of Norah Jones, Sade and Billie Holiday, but still not quite - Hindi stands in a space all her own.
An eager crowd hummed in anticipation, smiling, squirming, preemptively bouncing about. But a sudden flare of lights, and the creep of smoke upon the stage, was all it took to create an excited hush.
A dark-haired lady adorned in rings across both hands, and a flowy, flowery tunic smiled softly, floating into the dimly lit smoke. The house yelped and cheered in a unified glow. It was Hindi Zahra. She immediately entered into song in the form of a whispery murmur turned into a seemingly wordless prayer.
"Beautiful Tango," her popular single, came next. Inevitably, hips began to move to the irresistible folky string-ridden tune.
Throughout the night, Hindi compelled a reverent audience with her understated, yet incredibly magnetic, charm and her textured, soulful music.
She continued on, lulling the crowd with the beautiful "Fascination" and "Oursoul" with enchanting energy and an inexplicable allure.
As energy continued to rise, Hindi expertly disturbed the quiet with fervency, and set the stage ablaze with rock and roll panache on "Set Me Free" and "Music." She traversed the platform, whipping her long black hair all around, and jammed on her guitar like there was no tomorrow.
There was not a moment in the night where Zahra's passion and emotion couldn't be read all over her face.
And like some sort of magician, she coyly brought the audience back down with a sly smirk as she knowingly teased on "Imik Si Mik," sung in her native Berber tongue.
The singer gave thanks in both French and English, concluding the evening with "Stand Up" as a spirited crowd jumped and chanted in ecstasy.
Check out Turnstyle's photo gallery here.