Marie-Ange Zoghaib shares her journey from fledgling opera singer to leading an emerging pop/rock trio.
For some, opera is the be-all and end-all when it comes to vocal prowess and musical expression. If you can make it as an opera singer, you’ll forever be known for your voice and your onstage presence. Marie-Ange Zoghaib has always loved to sing and perform and at the age of 16 she began training to be an opera singer.
“It was my entire life for a while, and I seriously considered pursuing it professionally,” she said.
But the more time she spent learning overtures and arias, the more she began to realize the harsh limitations so closely associated with singing’s high water mark.
“Opera was an interesting field to be in. It was easy to impress a crowd for a quick moment, but it was hard to emotionally connect with them,” she said. “I had so many stories I felt I needed to tell and singing someone else’s words exactly how they wanted them sung wasn’t going to do it.”
That’s basically how Marie-Ange ended up playing music in Fredericton. After finishing a degree in computer science at UNB, she found herself trying her hardest to find comfort in a life without performing because at the time, that’s what she thought she needed to do. As she put it, she was “trying to live a normal life with a normal job” and failing to feel fulfilled.
“That didn’t last long,” she said. “Last February I began performing again, but this time I was playing my own music. I can’t tell you how terrified I was, and I definitely don’t want to tell you how much I sweated through my first gig, but for the first time in years, I felt alive, and I needed more.
“For most of 2019, I played around Fredericton as a solo performer. It was just me and my piano for a while. Eventually, I came to a similar conclusion I had come to with my opera career. I wasn’t connecting with my audience enough. It’s hard for a girl and a dinky keyboard to cut through a room and grab everyone’s attention, and I felt I had more I needed to share and I just couldn’t do it on my own. That’s when I decided I needed to get a band together.”
After playing a handful of solo shows around the city, her need for more resulted in the addition of drummer Cam Corey and guitarist Glen Love. That’s when Marie-Ange became Marie-Ange feat. Not Now, Madame!
“It was a difficult process, kind of worse than dating, if you can imagine such a thing,” she said. “Eventually, I found Cam Corey and Glen Love, a couple of the best musicians I know. I’ve known Glen for a bit as he and I used to regularly go to open mic nights at The Capital, and Cam and I randomly met, funnily enough, at The Capital as well. Once we had our first jam, the rest seemed to fall together, and before we knew it, we were playing our first gig at the same place where we all met.”
On January 10, Marie-Ange feat. Not Now, Madame! released their debut single, Cigarettes, recorded as a live performance during the 2019 Fest Forward event organized by the Charlotte Street Arts Centre.
“Cigarettes is my most recent song, written a couple months ago,” said Zoghaib. “I was in Ottawa and just happened to run into Motherhood at a show. While they were playing, I stepped outside and in a cloud of inspiration, wrote the lyrics to Cigarettes. A week later I had the rest of the song written.
“It’s a song about craving to numb emotions,” she said. “It’s about needing a vice – any vice – to keep you from thinking for just a moment.”
Zoghaib, Corey and Love are currently working on their debut release with Stephen Lewis and Jay Merle at Marshall Studios.
“I find that now that I am in a band, I write a bit differently,” said Zoghaib. “When I was solo, I would often be disappointed with my writing because I could hear all the parts to the song in my head, but there was only so much I could do with my keyboard. Now that I have two amazing musicians working with me, I feel like the sky’s the limit. I can write anything, and I know Glen and Cam can help make it happen.”
Marie-Ange feat. Not Now, Madame! are planning to release their debut album Crying but Rhythmic later this year.
“This album will be a journey – an introspective story of loss, grief, and the ordinary misery of life that makes us human. It will push you to the deepest corner of your mind and swaddle you in rhythm and bliss. Close your eyes, hear the words, and bop your head. All will be fine for a while.”
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