With a Lebanese father, Canadian mother and Italian wife to go along with childhood impressions he gleaned from multi-cultural Toronto, Mark Masri has compiled diverse influences throughout his life.
The romance-emanating tenor does not try to hide his upbringing; he belts his multilingual lyrics on stages across the globe and relies on religious roots to guide him from one door to the next that has been unlocked with his graceful voice.
His career nascent, the 38-year-old Masri will walk through another threshold for the first time at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 when he steps onto the stage at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.
“What do I expect from Louisiana? I expect it to be warmer,” Masri, a singer/songwriter/pianist, said from Canada. “I expect good food and great people.”
A pianist and guitarist/cellist will join Masri on stage in Morgan City for a performance he promises will be laden with soul and romanticism.
The singer, who speaks Arabic, French and English fluently, said the audience would be able to feel emotion through tempo and pitch, even when he sings in a foreign language, and he hopes to polarize the crowd’s sensibilities so that “they laugh and they cry.”
Masri’s career started to blossom with his release “La Voce” in 2010. The album features 16 classical tracks, which he sings in six different languages: Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Italian and Spanish. The singer wrote or co-wrote each song.
“La Voce,” meaning “The Voice,” commanded three awards from Gospel Music Association of Canada.
“Time,” a song he co-wrote with Amy Sky, won traditional song of the year; “Hold On,” a song he co-wrote with Adam Crossley and John Acosta, won inspirational song of the year; and the album was awarded traditional album of the year.
He followed the success by adapting a collection of Christmas songs, and last year released “Intimo,” 13 Italian love songs.
Thus far, Masri has focused on adult contemporary, romance, gospel and pop genres, and he hopes to further his crossover appeal with his current project, an album he described as “more palatable to the masses.”
It’s been a long journey for Masri, who “could carry a melody before I could talk,” his mother tells him. He began singing at a young age in choir at his father’s Pentecostal church.
Although vocally gifted, Masri didn’t immediately pursue a musician’s career. It was while studying health sciences at a university when someone close to him died, and he decided to take away the message that he needed to live in the moment.
“I decided to reprioritize my life,” he said.
Critics celebrate the singer’s stage presence and he’s known for his heartthrob appeal. He has traveled the world, shared a stage with the likes of David Foster and Jim Brickman and appeared in PBS’ “Beautiful World.”
Still, he said, his fondest memory is from inside the recording booth. Separated from a full orchestra by a soundproof pane of glass at a Las Vegas studio, Masri began to sing, but he couldn’t help pausing as he heard the music playing through his headphones. “It was so satisfying and humbling,” Masri recalled.
Masri is one of three acts remaining in the Community Concert Association of Morgan City’s 2011-12 season.
Tickets cost $45 for adults and $10 for students (K-12). They are available at the door, or people can reserve tickets by calling (985) 385-2307.
Mark Masri and his sweet, romantic tunes come to a Morgan City
stage this month.