Freshman Gaia Fakhoury Connects to Culture Through Music

by Samantha Walla

Staff Writer

Gaia Fakhoury is no stranger to performing arts. After singing for fourteen years, the freshman biochemistry major and Spanish minor is involved in both Music Ministry and Manhattan Singers, which perform at many functions on campus.

After being accepted to Manhattan College, Fakhoury applied and auditioned for the Performing Arts Scholarship as a vocalist, enabling her to continue her passion while receiving an education.

Fakhoury brings much more than a gifted voice to the program, as she sang the communion hymn at Manhattan College’s 7:30 p.m. Mass on Sunday, Oct. 22. The communion hymn Fakhoury chose was titled “The Spirit of God,” which she sang in Arabic.

For Fakhoury, this song was more than a refreshing addition to Music Ministry’s program.

“I sang a song about the spirit of Jesus and how he’s going to protect us: pray for us, pray for our hearts, pray for our faith. It was nice to pray in my language and not only English. I like this song because it’s very emotional, and I used to sing it at my old church.”

To say Fakhoury’s old church is off-campus is an understatement. Originally from Lebanon, Fakhoury moved to the United States only three years ago.

Andy Bauer, director of Music Ministry and Singers, was thrilled to work with Fakhoury in diversifying the program’s selections.

“I was delighted when Gaia approached me about singing a Christian song in Arabic. Not only did her selection meld musically with our contemporary stylistic vision for the Manhattan College Music Ministry, but it was a lovely artistic celebration of our diversity as God’s people. Gaia is one of our Performing Arts Scholarship recipients, and she also sings with the Manhattan College Singers. I very much look forward working with her over the next four years, and anticipate that she will add much to our music program here at the college.”

Fakhoury’s introduction to music was through her faith, making her involvement in Music Ministry all the more special.

“My parents are very religious, they go to church every Sunday, and I started singing there. I used to sing back in my country, so when we came here, we found a Lebanese church so I continued singing here.”

Fakhoury’s emotional rendition of the song touched not only parishioners, but her family.

“My family was so excited and proud. It was a very affectionate song for them because it reminded them when I sang the same song back in Lebanon. They also liked that I had the chance to sing it in the United States. I’m so lucky!”

Although Fakhoury’s main concern is concentrating on biochemistry, singing is her favorite way to spend her free time, as it gives her a break from her studies. Despite being unsure whether her biochemistry major will bring her to medical school or work in labs, Fakhoury knows that singing will always be a part of her life.

“I love singing so much and I would love to continue. It’s my passion.”

Fakhoury aims to continue developing this passion through singing at church. She is not stopping at Arabic, as she hopes to sing her next hymn in French, her second language. Ultimately, Fakhoury’s singing not only enhances mass for churchgoers, but it brings her closer to her faith and homeland.

“It meant a lot to me when I sang in Arabic, it reminded me of Lebanon, and it made me feel so happy that I had the opportunity to sing it at Manhattan College. I felt so proud.”