Bedouine Mesmerizes DC

Nov. 15 Performance @ DC9

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Azniv Korkejian, who performs under the name Bedouine, brought her exquisite voice and thoughtful folk presence to the intimate stage of the DC9 Nightclub on Nov. 15. Now living in Los Angeles, California, this native of Aleppo, Syria stunned the small but appreciative weeknight crowd by singing through most of her recently released eponymous debut album.

Minimalist by nature and design, Bedouine proved that in a world overrun by flash and glitz, there is still space for the satisfying simplicity of an elegant voice offering lyrical wisdom, accompanied by a lone guitar.

After all isn’t it
the fear that we face
And all the bitterness
we try and erase
All of the reasons
to keep me at bay
are the same reasons
that I should stay

Nice and Quiet was the show opener, delivered with a powerful clarity that belied its hushed sound. Bedouine’s self-assured presence continued throughout her performance, even when punctuated with moments of self-effacing awkwardness, as when she engaged the audience. Sharing a new song publicly for the first time, she confessed to having no idea what to name it, and happily listened to and responded to audience suggestions, as if conversing with friends over drinks. She is warm, endearing, and sincere.

Influenced by both the Arabic music played around her house and later by American folk stalwarts, such as Joni Mitchel and Leonard Cohen, Bedouine writes and performs songs that reach a personal depth beyond what she has inherited. “I don’t need the sunlight/My curtains don’t draw/I don’t need objects/to keep or to pawn/ I don’t want your pity/ Concern or your scorn,” she tells us in the haunting Solitary Daughter. She is an artist who knows who she is and what she is doing. The confidence contained in her quiet is mesmerizing.

Azniv Korkejian’s performance invoked an almost hypnotic stillness that is rare on DC9 Nightclub’s upper floor. She invited her listeners to reflect on the inner landscape we all traverse from day to day. In just about an hour, Bedouine showed us her heart and captured ours. Indeed, as her gorgeous love song Skyline asserts,

you’re still in my skyline/
and I think I’m in yours

Leanne Tankel studied poetry writing as a UC Berkeley undergraduate and was fortunate enough to work with the inimitable Thom Gunn. She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing at Boston University, where she held a teaching fellowship. Currently, she is writing prose, and her manuscript, Broken Hallelujah: notes from a marriage, was a 2011 short-list finalist for the Santa Fe Literary Awards program. Leanne lives with her husband, three sons, and two pugs in Northern Virginia.