Arab American Singer/Songwriter, Leila Milki, Releases Her First Album
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Lebanese-American singer, songwriter, and pianist Leila Milki has released her debut album on March 24 called Promises. The budding artist recorded the album shortly after graduating from college, hoping to break into the music industry with her multi-lingual, Arab-inspired songs.
Milki is a solo artist, focusing on voice, classical and contemporary piano, and acoustic guitar. Her writing includes traditional/folk music fused with pop. The first single she released from the album is called Leil Ya Leil. Sung in both Arabic and English, the song is an endearing combination of her two worlds, Lebanon and America. The traditional Arabic music, paired with the energy of modern pop music, provides listeners with bone-chilling excitement as they listen to Milki’s story-based lyrics.
The rising singer told Arab America that the premise of the song came to her like a dream. “The melody had been floating in my head for several years, so I finally decided to write something out of it,” Milki said of Leil Ya Leil. “It’s a specific ode to Al Koura in Lebanon. I wanted to celebrate the beautiful rural scenery with its mountains, jasmine scents, and olive trees, and sought to embrace these visions of home in my verses. The Arabic choruses capture my longing for the warmth of those memories.”
Other songs on the album, such as Better Match incorporate Arabic elements, as well. Milki likes to mix her classical piano training with her cultural stylings inspired by famous artists, such as Fairuz and Dalida, and most recently Marwan Khoury and Michel Fadel.
In March, Milki released a music video paying tribute to what she describes as profoundly beautiful “East meets West elements.”The video is of a medley she arranged, combining the works of two artists: famed Lebanese singer, Fairuz, and French artist, Edith Piaf. Milki says she is grateful for having immersed herself in such cultural histories, because they’ve informed her writing of Leil Ya Leil and continue to enrich her original material.
“All my life I grew up listening to traditional Middle Eastern music… especially during summers in Lebanon, which has influenced my own music in the last 5-6 years,” Milki said of her musical inspiration. However, her trips to Lebanon have become less frequent in recent years, so she uses her nostalgia and the local Arab American community in Los Angeles, where she now lives, to stay connected to her heritage.
The Lebanese-American singer has Western influences, too, such as Stevie Wonder, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell. Milki drew from these timeless artists for her folk-pop themed album. She hopes the blend of Arabic sounds into her music can provide “emotional and cultural empowerment” to her listeners of all backgrounds.
Since releasing Promises, Milki has kicked off her tour with performances in New York and Los Angeles. She has upcoming shows in Santa Monica and Malibu, as well as other private events in California. Now that she has graduated, Milki is pursing her passion full-time, hoping to connect with audiences through her powerful vocals and gifted instrumentation.
Leila Milki’s music can be found on all mainstream platforms. Promises can be bought on iTunes and Amazon. It can also be streamed on Spotify or downloaded on CD Baby. The track Leil Ya Leil can also be found on Sound Cloud, as well as the Middle East streaming site, Anghami.