Never stop feeding your creative appetite

Elsy Makhlouf

Two years ago, I had a well-established music career in Beirut, Lebanon as a singer and guitarist. I had great connections in the music industry and a lot of musicians and professionals who I worked with. On my graduation day, I wished everyone goodbye with a special performance, looked at the beautiful crowd and hoped that my music career wouldn’t end then. A few weeks later, I moved to Halifax, N.S. and had to start everything from the bottom up.

At the beginning, I used to sit alone sadly thinking about the beautiful moments I had when performing at home … But nothing could heal my pain like the moment when I picked up my guitar again and started strumming. I knew I wanted to study public relations and this is the reason I came to Canada, but at the same time I didn’t want to stop what I used to do in my everyday life. Practicing my passion added flavour to my daily routine: I started teaching guitar and vocal lessons for students – just like me, and that’s what made me happy and relaxed after a long day at school.

Although I came from Lebanon with no connections in Canada, I was able through many societies, to perform at the Casino of Nova Scotia, as well as travel to Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island for concerts.

Even far away from home, I always made sure to build new music expertise, and grow my unique talent through following critical notions that helped me succeed:

  • Building connections

I began by extending my circle of networks through cooperating with groups and societies that influence me to practice what I love. Being Lebanese, I reached out to the Lebanese community in Halifax and was part of most of their occasions. They helped me book performances in events such as the Lebanese Cedar Festival and they even had me in their special celebration parties and restaurants.

  • Contributing to MSVU volunteer activities

 We are MSVU students; our main purpose is to study but we should also make the best of our university experience, and benefit from it to practice what we love to do. A lot of events are hosted at the Mount and you can become part of them. I started volunteering in music events such as multicultural nights and karaoke parties. Then, President Ramona Lumpkin noticed me and asked the university to contact me for the possibility to sing at the Board of Governors Holiday dinner. The news was a big surprise but I knew then that no hard work and no contribution could go to waste.

Through volunteering at the Mount I was able to get back on track with my professional music career – you never know … things can turn out to be greater than you thought!

  •  Keep in contact with your hometown

I always made sure to keep contact with my past co-workers, musicians, and producers in Lebanon. The internet makes the distances shorter and the people closer. That is how I cooperated with a Lebanese producer in the writing and recording of our first song release. From my own tiny studio in Halifax, I was sending recordings over to Lebanon. In the end, the song went viral and ended up on the radio stations in Lebanon, and I enjoyed the success here all the way from Halifax.

It is a great accomplishment to continue in Canada what I started in Lebanon. Without passion and persistence, nothing would have happened the way I planned. It is definitely not easy to step out of your comfort zone and start all over again, but here I am, and you can do it too. If you are a painter, musician, dancer, writer, or any artist, those are your talents and your skills and you should cherish them forever.

It’s our time to complete ourselves and treasure what we love in life. Let’s do it now!