When Rouba Zeidan visited Portugal years ago, she witnessed live music like never before. When Fado — a 19th century Portuguese genre, often characterised by its mournful sound — is performed live, everything else stops.
“Nobody moves a fork,” said Zeidan.
It’s that reverential treatment of music that the Lebanese soul singer speaks of so wistfully as she prepares for her new gig: resident singer at Muze Lounge in Dubai, where she will perform every Wednesday night.
“I think people should miss and want and yearn for live music again, and be picky about it. It’s not about pop songs, it’s about listening to good musicians who can make you feel their music,” she said.
Zeidan, 40, who typically goes by her first name or ‘Roobz’, released her debut album Mama’s Back in 2013. If she’s not at her day job of communications consultant, she’s in the studio recording more songs. At Muze, she’ll play a mix of originals and covers with a full band: guitarist, keyboardist, drummer and bassist.
“These are all musicians that love to jam and love to play solos, and I encourage that a lot,” she said.
She told tabloid! exactly what people can expect, and why they won’t be inundated with more Top 40 hits.
Why did you decide to take this gig at Muze?
I’ve been given the reins to sing whatever genre and my original stuff. That’s the kind of freedom I like to have when I’m performing live. They’re very supportive and very open to new ideas.
What can people expect from the sets?
This is music for the ears and for the soul. You’re not going to come and hear commercial tracks. And even if you did hear songs that you know, they would be redone and revisited. There’s enough of that pop music stuff going around in town. This is for people who like to hear instrumentation, to hear solos, to see a band behind the scenes.
Can you give us a tease of some songs people will hear?
They would probably hear some Amy Winehouse. They might hear a touch of Nina Simone, for example.
What does soul mean to you?
My parents had, and still have, beautiful taste in music. Growing up, I always had music playing in the background, almost like my childhood had its own soundtrack. I was born in a golden year  when it comes to music. The ’70s music and all of the classics; a lot of soul in that era. It was part of my DNA structure of that time. All of these soul artists put themselves out there. They left it all on stage — they gave so much of themselves. Ultimately that’s what I identify with.
If you fast forward a few years, when I had the pleasure of meeting [Lebanese composer] Ziad Rahbani, who’s like an icon of jazz, I worked with him for several years. I was getting through college and I was interested in life in general, and he kept pulling me back into the studio [and saying] ‘Practice. Let’s do this.’ He spent so many hours making me listen to jazz and teaching me the sounds and why it’s so important. If anyone made me fall in love with jazz, it has to be Ziad.
*Rouba performs two one-hour sets at Muze, Souk Al Bahar, Dubai, starting at 8.30pm on Wednesdays. Doors open at 8pm. For reservations, required for selective seating, contact email@example.com, 04-4501037 or 04-4279672.