Meet the Staff Monday: Ali I. Fadlallah, Harvard Doctoral Resident & Program Advisor

*Ali is pictured above with his young sister

What is your favorite instrument and why?

The Oud! The Oud is a beautiful 11-string instrument with a deep, emotional, and mysterious sound. It is indigenous to the Middle East (where my roots are) and one of the oldest instruments in the world. The soul of the East is expressed through its mesmerizing sounds and vibratos. Since the Oud is the central instrument of the East but largely unknown to the West, one of my dreams is to popularize it in the West by singing songs in English over my Oud, thus blending my two worlds as an Arab-American.


If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?  

Janelle Monae! I had Janelle’s debut album, The ArchAndroid, on repeat during the most difficult storm of my life, and it served as my shield and my steroids… helping me to confront and conquer my demons, grow spiritually and evolve as a man and as an artist. Her voice brings me closer to my core, and in my heart of hearts I just know we’re going to make at least one hit together in this life.



What do you hope to accomplish in your time at Music Forward?

I hope to build upon Music Forward’s wonderful assets – especially its people and programs – to create job opportunities within Live Entertainment for alumni of our programs. Music Forward’s promise to “connect passions to professions” is near and dear to my heart, and my responsibility for building that bridge is a challenge I take personally. The scars I have from fighting to pursue my dream serve as my reminder that it is so worth it. However, many of my peers and many of the young people in the communities we serve are still tending to open wounds – the pain, hurt, and frustration that stems from being failed by schools and local systems in formative years when many of us were given neither the tools to identify a dream, nor the skills and access to pursue it. My hope is to help set us up to support students along their career trajectory so that those barriers will not be a part of their story.


Do you remember the first music you purchased? If yes, what was it?

P Diddy & The Fam’s No Way Out Album. I was 9, turning 10. You would’ve had to cut me open to see the show of fireworks in my brain/heart to understand how captivated I was! I would pop the CD into my Discman, try and cover my big ears with little headphones, and then lie in bed and close my eyes so that my imagination could escort me to another world! What an experience!


Favorite artist and why?

I am my favorite artist, but one of my other faves is Sade.

Do you know Sade? If I tried to ride a bike and listen to Sade at the same time, I’d forget I was peddling and break my arm. Her raw emotion, sorcerous voice, piercing lyrics, and impeccable taste for instrumentation is out of this world. She is music’s Mermaid… and though I’m a sober soul, Sade keeps me knowing what intoxicated feels like! Shouts to Lashowna & Joy who put me on in college and still make fun of me today for pronouncing her name like it rhymes with “Jade.” (HA!)


Favorite genre and why?

My favorite genre hasn’t been invented quite yet but it’s called Spirit, and it combines soul, folk, hip-hop, and pop into a magical blend designed to exterminate self-doubt and selfishness and liberate us into a spiritual state of collective consciousness and pure love. It has elements of more genres too, like gospel, reggae, and the blues. It’s going to hypnotize the USA then spread across the world, just like Reggae captivated Jamaica before reaching us. I spend my free time in the lab inventing it and cooking up its many divine ingredients, and I often see sparks of magic and taste the love… but I’m still finding the perfect recipe! It will arrive at its appointed time, but I know it’s coming!