Danny Fernandes
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Danny Fernandes

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | MAJOR

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | MAJOR
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Press


"Ottawa singer makes the 'impossible happen'"

Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Massari can't walk through an airport these days without being mobbed. The Ottawa singer whose smouldering green eyes have been in heavy rotation on MuchMusic all year caused a stir in a British Columbia airport the other day.
"I had people working at the airport leaving their stations, running up and asking for autographs," says Massari.
"There was a whole crowd of people around me. Security had to make sure things were kept in order. It was an amazing feeling."
And contrary to what you might expect, not only young women have fallen for Massari's sleek, sexy style of urban pop. "It's older women, younger women, kids, grandparents," he says. "It's basically everybody, not one culture or one age group. It's like everybody knows who Massari is. Everybody knows the songs."
No doubt about it, Massari has had a phenomenal year. He's had a string of hit videos and singles, and his independent debut disc has sold 50,000 copies. Distribution deals have been inked in Europe and Britain, and plans are in the works for a U.S. release.
Heading into the second and final night of the Urban Music Awards in Toronto tonight, the smooth-voiced Lebanese-Canadian is one of the year's big success stories in Canada's urban community. He is performing at the gala tonight and is nominated for two awards: best R&B/soul recording and best new artist. Competition is fierce -- Massari is up against Toronto darling Divine Brown in both categories, and Ottawa teenager Keshia Chante in the R&B category.
"I can't even begin to express how I feel because it's so many different mixed emotions," Massari says. "Pride and relief at the same time. I feel like they're acknowledging the work that I've done and that's reward enough for me."
Chante, who won three trophies last year, lost the songwriter's award to k-os last night during the first of two sold-out events in Canada's seventh annual celebration of urban music.
But it's Massari who's been impossible to ignore this year, and his accomplishments have made the urban music industry take notice.
"For an independent artist who has broken through at such a crossover level, reaching several age demographics and many ethnic demographics, it shows just how far urban music can reach," says Aisha Wickham, executive director of the Urban Music Association of Canada, the non-profit organization that administers the awards. "I had heard of him when he was a developing artist so it's been rewarding to see him develop to this level."
She points to his management team as one key to success.
"When we're advising artists, the number one thing is surrounding yourself with a good team," she says. "Certainly having a good team around him has been key to not only selling records, but also looking at the correct marketing opportunities and geographic areas where they've chosen to focus him."
Massari's manager, Manny Dion of Capital Prophet Management, was nominated for one of the insider awards that were handed out last night. Although he didn't win (the award went to Chris Smith), Massari is justifiably proud of Dion and the rest of his team, a tight-knit group of Ottawa friends who have known each other since elementary school.
From the start, their goal was to create a buzz at home for Massari's music, which weaves Arabic motifs into throbbing Western pop.
"We made the impossible happen," said Massari, whose name means "money" in Arabic. "We came out of a city that was so overlooked, people never really took it seriously. But we felt the most important thing was to be known in our city, to be popular and to be recognized in our city.
"I feel like we've accomplished that. A few guys from high school in Ottawa-city are now the leading guys in an industry that wouldn't even recognize their city."
They hit paydirt early this year with Massari's first single, Smile For Me, which features a duet with U.S. rapper Loon and a slick video that was quickly put into rotation. Next came Be Easy, which made it to the top of the video charts, and now Real Love and another lavish video.
Maple Music released Massari's debut disc on May 31.
With a U.S. deal imminent, Massari has already performed a couple of shows that prove the demand for his music extends south of the border. In San Diego last Friday, he says "it was as if I never left Canada.
"The crowd was more pumped than anything I've ever seen. They knew every single word to every one of my songs. They've downloaded the whole album," he says.
Born Sari Abboud in Beirut, Massari moved with his family to Montreal at the age of 10, then to Ottawa at 13. He speaks English, French and Arabic and lists musical influences including Steve Wonder, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and George Wassouf, a legendary Arabic singer.
Massari first made an impression in the nation's capital three years ago when Spitfire, a song he wrote with fellow Capital Prophet artist Belly, scored airplay on the hit-oriented radio station Hot 89.9.
He says word of mouth from fans has been his best advertising. "I love performing," Massari says. "When your fans see that, when they see that you're really into your live performance and the whole confidence vibe comes across and you get feedback from your fans, people go out there and spread the word.
"It's the whole package together, from the performance to the sales of the CD to the videos to the actual music. I feel like I really got attention that way."
Canadian Urban Music Awards Nominees in Major Categories:
R&B/Soul recording of the year: Jully Black feat. Demarco: Sweat of Your Brow; Divine Brown: Old Skool Love; Keshia Chante: Let the Music Take You; Shawn Desman: Let's Go; Massari feat. Loon: Smile for Me
Hip-Hop recording of the year: Kardinal Offishall: Head's Up; K'naan: Strugglin'; k-os: Crabbuckit; Maestro feat. Infinite & Gowan: Criminal Mind; Rochester aka Juice feat. Andreena Mill: I'm Ready
Dance/Electronic recording of the year: Aluna: All I Need is Time (Sluslik Luna Mix); Jully Black: Sweat of Your Brow (Trackheadz Remix); Jully Black: Sweat of Your Brow (Tricky Moreira Remix); Sherrie Lea: No Ordinary Love; Taras: I Love You (JJ Club Mix)
Reggae recording of the year: Jah Beng: Biggest Part of Me; Blessed: Reggae Time; Sonia Collymore feat. Chrome: No Cash Flow; Odel Johnston: Fire in the Hole; Korexion: It's All Bless
Jazz recording of the year: Jane Bunnett: Black is the Color; Ranee Lee & Oliver Jones: Just You, Just Me; Sophie Milman: I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby; PJ Perry & Doug Riley: Come Sunday; Brad Turner Trio: Question the Answer
New Artist of the year: Jully Black; Divine Brown; Massari; Rochester aka Juice - Lynn Saxberg, The Ottawa Citizen


Discography

Smile For Me - single (#11 MuchMusic Countdown, #18 BDS CHR)
Be Easy - single (#1 MuchMusic Countdown, #4 BDS CHR)
Real Love - single (#13 MuchMusic Countdown..., #16 BDS CHR...)

Massari - album (certified Gold in Canada)

Photos

Bio

MASSARI

It isn’t everyday that Canadian independent urban artists achieve Top 20 radio and video success on their initial offerings. For Ottawa-based R&B singer Massari and record label Capital Prophet Records, this achievement is the result of many years of hard work and perseverance.

The 24-year old Sagittarius, born in Beirut, Lebanon, moved to Montreal at the age of 10 and at 13 he moved to Ottawa where he currently resides. The trilingual artist – he speaks English, French and Arabic fluently – cites Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin as musical influences. However, growing up he has been exposed to various styles of music and because of that his biggest influence is legendary Arabic singer George Wassouf. “I sing from my heart and George Wassouf taught me to do that", says Massari about how this legendary singer has affected his music.

In 2002, Massari recorded and released “Spitfire” which garnered heavy rotation on Ottawa radio stations. Since then, Massari has been steadily writing and developing his sound. He returned in 2005 with his self-titled debut album release on May 31st, 2005 through MapleNationWide/Universal. For this record, Massari worked closely with Da Heala of the Capital Prophet Records production team. The album, with its upbeat club-style tracks, mid-tempo joints and smooth ballads draws influences from Massari’s middle-eastern origins. “Because of my background, my music is heavily influenced with middle-eastern melodies. Over the past few years so many artists are trying to bring Arabic styles into their music, but mine is authentic”, explains Massari.

Massari (pronounced Ma-Sar-ee) - whose Arabic name literally translated means ‘money’ - has taken the industry by surprise in Canada. A national indie phenomenon Massari's self-titled album debuted on the Top 40 SoundScan Chart at #29, and #6 on the R&B chart. The album sold out nationwide in its first couple days of release and has remained in the Top 100 on the Top 200 SoundScan Chart for 19 weeks. The lead off single, “Smile For Me” features former Bad Boy Entertainment recording artist Loon. “I’m definitely very selective about the records I get on. It didn’t matter if he was an established artist or not, it was just the quality of the record, the quality of the music that made me want to get involved”, says Loon about his involvement with Massari and Capital Prophet Records. The end result was a hit single that spent 24 weeks on the Top 40 chart, peaking at #18 (BDS CHR) in Canada. Canadian award-winning music video director RT! was responsible for making the “Smile For Me” video one of the hottest urban videos by a Canadian artist. The video was immediately added to heavy rotation at MuchMusic and MuchVibe and received two 2005 MuchMusic Video Award nominations for Best Independent Video and MuchVibe Best Rap Video.

His second single “Be Easy”, bettered his first outing and spent close to four months in the Top 10 (peaking at #4) on the Top 40 Chart (BDS CHR). The video, once again directed by music video director RT!, was instantly added to heavy rotation across the board on video outlets and peaked at the coveted #1 position on the MuchMusic Top 30 Countdown. Riding high on the success of “Be Easy” comes the much-anticipated third single “Real Love”. The romantic ballad shows a softer side to Massari with its beautifully innocent and heartfelt lyrics. The single is alreadu in the Top 20 at Canadian CHR/TOP 40 radio after only four weeks and the video was added into heavy rotation across the board at MuchMusic, MuchVibe, and MuchMoreMusic. The video directed by RT!, produced by John Nadalin and executive produced by Tony Sal (Capital Prophet Records) brings to life a fabulous story of love, fate and destiny.

Massari has been touring extensively since the release of his debut album and shows no signs of slowing down as he prepares to take his music international with upcoming tour dates in Australia, Germany and London later this year.

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For more on Massari, check out http://capitalprophetrecords.com or http://massarionline.com

Publicity:
Lu Bianco, National Publicity @ DMD Entertainment Inc, 905.405.8800 and/or lu@dmdpromo.com