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ZouZou Mansour: “What we believe or don’t believe”

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic was followed by the Flapper period, and Roaring 20’s. That’s super hopeful to me, because any time a rubber band is pulled back, it lashes forward with an urgency and passion of really launching far into the air ☺ That’s my way of saying all this staying in will be […]

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The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic was followed by the Flapper period, and Roaring 20’s. That’s super hopeful to me, because any time a rubber band is pulled back, it lashes forward with an urgency and passion of really launching far into the air ☺ That’s my way of saying all this staying in will be followed by a great prosperous time in art, literature, going out, new businesses, revamping older ones, and a whole new style and excitement for life. When you lose some of your freedoms, you’re almost destined to venerate each one more than before, and tend to be more grateful for them. Even if it’s only for a few months. The first time I got to go eat sushi after the pandemic had begun was late May, and I almost cried. I love sushi, but I never knew how much I’d grown accustomed to having it whenever I wanted until I couldn’t have it for 3+ months. It may seem like a little luxury thing, but it’s not to me. It was symbolic of something much more than that. The idea that something would always be there for you, whether you wanted it or not. Those tears were about epiphany and loss, not just sushi. I’m sure you’ve had them for something you thought was simple, too.


As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing ZouZou Mansour.

ZouZou is the lead singer and co-songwriter for Philadelphia-based rock band, Soraia, signed with Wicked Cool Records since 2016. Soraia is her baby. Together, they’ve released two full length albums and two singles since signing with Wicked Cool, and have toured extensively throughout the US and parts of Europe. They are a strong rock band who keep growing with each release and continue growing in solid steps. Soraia is particularly known for their intense live performances that have become their calling card. ZouZou has shared co-writing accolades with Songwriters’ Hall-of-Famer Jon Bon Jovi, Steven Van Zandt, Billy Falcon, as well as sharing a number of significant achievements with her writing partner, Travis Smith. She takes her artistry and leadership roles very seriously, and does all she can to partner with people who have a similar mode of ethics, discipline, and professionalism in their crafts.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/d9b56bf0ce0cebf9b92ad0f2ef31607f


Thank you so much for doing this with us again ZouZou! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Yes. All of my life since I can remember I’ve wanted to sing. No one in my family (that I know of) was involved in the arts as a career path — I come from a family of doctors, bankers, engineers, and although I know my family LOVES to write, they never pursued it for a career. So there was no role model there within my early years. I really believe it was an innate thing — I believe it is a God-given gift and desire.

I feel great about what I do, and am consistently working on my voice with a vocal coach I adore and have been working with for 19 years. I want to grow in my writing and singing because that’s where my heart is, and my gift is.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There’s several that affected me, and even more, poetry has changed my perceptions about so many things. But if I had to pick one book, I’d definitely say it has to be “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton.

That book was the first book I just couldn’t put down. There was a friendship and loyalty in this group of friends that I desired for myself and wanted in my life. They were underdogs in society, but still did the right thing. They were like dark heroes. I fell in love with those characters and learned what it was to be pulled into another world of the mind that was an escape, but also, a vital part of living in the now, too. A vital part of creating a life of your own.

It also afforded me the opportunity start using my mind to create alternate scenarios and outcomes for these characters when I didn’t like where the story brought them. I think that’s the first time I realized, or at least started using my mind in a way to create and problem solve by imagining other scenarios built upon a character, and also, relationships between characters. It’s a beautiful element I’ve used to write songs and imagine great things for myself and others.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

I’d love to do that. It absolutely reminds me there’s plenty to be grateful for aside from what I may immediately see on the outside.

Here’s my “Five Reasons To Be Hopeful” during our current Coronavirus Crisis:

1 . It gives you the opportunity for true alone time — to see what you love about yourself and what you’d like to change. I think it’s been a long enough time that people aren’t able to just think, “This is a nice vacation”, or “I can get some projects finished at home now” kind of thing. It’s gone beyond that; we’ve been confronted with ourselves.

What we believe or don’t believe; what really attracts us; what really matters to us. For myself, I’ve realized I’m not just some good Samaritan that I always thought I was. I’ve had to face my own force of will in demanding too much of myself, and also, not enough of myself. I’ve been able to look at where my fears of abandonment are keeping me stuck. In relationships, in my lyrics, in my life. Patterns that have become habit, but not necessarily useful — just routine.

I think if you’ve found a way to survive the pandemic mentally and emotionally, aside from physically, then you’ve had to face yourself on some level. Otherwise, your behaviors have gotten worse. Which is also good because you’re likely heading for a bottom, then. That’s the only alternative. And we can’t hide from who we are forever. And truly, we’re all made up of some good, some not-so-good. But all of that is a matter of what you value, and what calls to your heart.

I’ve changed a lot of the self-talk and behaviors that kept me stuck in complaining of my circumstances into doing something about them. Finding alternate ways of asking for what I want rather than manipulating my way into getting it. And being willing to hear “no” instead of torturing myself for weeks and not asking for what I want.

2 . I know things are going to get better. It’s inevitable. Listen, it’s always darkest before the dawn — and that’s the truth. And you don’t come out of this the same person you were going into it. It’s impossible. You’re tired of dealing with toxic relationships and willing to give them up. You’re questioning what you really want to do with your life — from little things to big things. My daily routines have changed. My meditation time is beyond important to me now. It’s not “if I have the time”, it’s “I’m making the time”. I’ve had the opportunity to really look at what I want, why I want it, and have taken steps to achieve it (as the pandemic has allowed me the time to explore more). I’ve stopped blaming others for not having what I want. No one’s in charge of what I want to do with my life, and I also realized that that blame is my own will to nothing. It’s easier to blame someone else for me not having something than it is for me to go after it, consequences be damned. Again, my fears of abandonment were and still are huge. But I’m learning how to navigate them and face them in a way that wasn’t afforded me before the pandemic began.

3 . The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic was followed by the Flapper period, and Roaring 20’s. That’s super hopeful to me, because any time a rubber band is pulled back, it lashes forward with an urgency and passion of really launching far into the air ☺ That’s my way of saying all this staying in will be followed by a great prosperous time in art, literature, going out, new businesses, revamping older ones, and a whole new style and excitement for life. When you lose some of your freedoms, you’re almost destined to venerate each one more than before, and tend to be more grateful for them. Even if it’s only for a few months. The first time I got to go eat sushi after the pandemic had begun was late May, and I almost cried. I love sushi, but I never knew how much I’d grown accustomed to having it whenever I wanted until I couldn’t have it for 3+ months. It may seem like a little luxury thing, but it’s not to me. It was symbolic of something much more than that. The idea that something would always be there for you, whether you wanted it or not. Those tears were about epiphany and loss, not just sushi. I’m sure you’ve had them for something you thought was simple, too.

4 . Also, I think art and music and theater shows will be attended more because people won’t question whether it’s “worth the money” or not — it’ll be more about wanting to have the experience — and that’s what makes up a life, in my opinion.

A period of growth and prosperity will follow these times of stagnation and loss. My best example is when I read that gatherings would be left to 10 people or less the day before coming home from our west coast tour and starting to tour behind the release of our new album, Dig Your Roots, which released on March 13, 2020. I knew then — in that moment — that all those months of working to get a tour together and making the plans and promotions was over in one statement read. Our tour would be canceled. I was heartbroken. I was fearful. I was teetering on hopelessness. I got into the shower and my friend’s words echoed in my head: ”This is happening for a reason”. I chose to believe that, and from that, ideas came like never before on how to promote the album and ourselves differently. How to connect with our fans differently. How to bring to them instead of just hoping they’d come to our shows. It allowed for a more real connection. And some fear, too. All of which contributes to a greater period of growth. I became more creative, and opportunities showed themselves like never before.

5 . Lastly, I’d say the thing to be hopeful about is the end of all of these restrictions and the embracing of a new way of life. That comes with loss and grief. We were truly all in this together whether or not we agreed about the specifics of key issues — we are all a part of history like no other time before us. You can’t deny anyone that. I don’t have to agree with you to love you, even if you’re atrociously wrong in my eyes. I had to come to grips with that when some good friends had completely conflicting beliefs about social issues I felt particularly strongly about. I was like, “How could I have been so wrong about this person?” But then I had to take it further and say, “Am I willing to see their point so we can talk about this?” For myself, I’ve been so easily stimulated by some topics that that answer is still, “Not yet. But I will love you from over here until that times comes. And it will.” Things will get better. We’ve had to face some ugly truths about ourselves and the society in which we live. I don’t think that could’ve happened at any other time than this.

Addendum: I got to watch “Hannibal” the tv series and be as affected by that story as I was when I was a kid reading “The Outsiders”. I am grateful for that experience, and that leaves me hopeful.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Just stay connected. Send a text if you don’t have the time to talk. Let them know they’re on your mind.

  1. When you start thinking of yourself or your problems too much, pick up the phone and call someone and see how they’re doing. I always can get out of myself when I’m talking with someone else.
  2. Take a walk or workout — start a new hobby. Try something new. It gets you out of routine and that gets you out of routine thought patterns that are debilitating, too.
  3. Take a day or two off from reading the news and social media. Your world won’t crash and you will feel better. Especially do this when you are feeling particularly anxious or fearful.
  4. Never underestimate the power of a good book, radio show, or tv show to get you out of your own life problems. I spent so much time thinking about what I’d just read or watched that I got creative from it and wrote from that. Lose yourself in a good summer flick to read. It is still summer, after all. I get great comfort from that.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

Connecting via the phone to someone you trust, and getting off of social media. The world will open up when you do one or both of those things. If you can’t feel your way into picking up the phone, then pick up your journal and start writing out your feelings. Getting them outside of yourself is the key.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Have fun, even if it’s not the same kind of fun everyone else is having.” — C.S. Lewis

I think there’s no single story I can relate here, but rather an entire life journey of stories. I’ve always felt a little left of center in how I emotionally and mentally handle things, and the sensitivity I have, the things that speak to me aren’t exactly what I think is the popular thing, and I’d genuinely rather spend time one-on-one or alone. I always thought that made me a weird person or too different to have a “happy” life. But — full circle — I find these are the things that bring me energy. And I’m always changing. I’m that woman who wants to get dressed up and go to the party and ten minutes later, wants to head home and watch a movie and fall asleep. I suppose that makes me boring to some, but to me, that’s what kind of fun I like having. So, there’s that. I can’t force myself to be someone else. There’s also the me that wants to stay out all night and dance. And then sleep. I have no idea what this woman wants except for in the moments as I live them, and that’s ok with me!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Watch a tv series together — any tv series that makes you think and carries the story beyond the entertainment of the show itself, and talk to people about it. Like a book club, but a tv club. It will bring together people sharing ideas and passions rather than arguing about right or wrong in a non-constructive way. I think that will allow people to communicate in a safe, honest way — which can lead to greater things. My movement would be called, “Just Watch TV With Me”.

What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?

www.soraia.com

@Soraiarocks on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you so much! This was a lot of fun!

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