AROUND THE WORLD IN 11 SONGS
Rebecca Fanya is a New York-bred, Brooklyn-based Human Rights activist, Backup Singer to the Stars, and Songwriter. She is about to release her debut, self-titled album, Rebecca Fanya.
In between continent-hopping human rights trips with Paul Simon to East Timor, addressing HIV/AIDS in the Congo with Youssou N'Dour, setting up a soccer game on the Lower East Side for Bolivian President Evo Morales or working for Peter Gabriel’s human rights organization WITNESS, Rebecca stole moments here and there to craft the subtle, open-ended folk songs collected on her stunning debut album.
Rebecca worked with a cross section of the friends she’s gathered over the years: Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls), Mark Stewart (Paul Simon, Bang On A Can All-Stars), Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird) and Jenny Scheinman (Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams) among others. Each brings their unique talent to bear on Fanya’s generous compositions.
Rebecca has a habit of ending up in the right place at the right time. Bright-eyed and fresh-faced from college, she found herself assisting Paul Simon on his Broadway production of The Capeman. This led her to studying privately at Julliard, and a stint singing with members of The Lion King (in Zulu, naturally). A few months later, Rebecca was singing backup for Marc Anthony. In Spanish.
Oh, and did we mention that her voice graces a Harry Belafonte tune? Or that she led a trip to the Burmese border with Ani DiFranco and Damien Rice? This followed their participation in the much-heralded For The Lady benefit compilation (featuring everyone from Paul McCartney to Bright Eyes to Rebecca herself) for Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel laureate. You might have even caught Rebecca singing back-up on “Love Shack” live with the B52’s.
The line isn’t straight, but it all makes some kind of sense, because one of the best words to describe Rebecca’s life is borderless. And while Rebecca’s travels and human rights work seep into her music, her album is not a political manifesto, nor a world-beat hodgepodge. Her songs are concise and unsparing accounts of loss and resolve, of imagined vacations to nonexistent islands and the familiar creak of her apartment building’s staircase. Taken together, they offer an intimate look into the life and mind of a bright voice.