Alumna Mayssa Karaa Sings a Stirring Cover for 'American Hustle'

Kimberly Ashton
February 25, 2014

A week after singing an audition into her iPhone from Lebanon, Berklee alumna Mayssa Karaa '12 was in Los Angeles cutting a song for what would become one of the biggest films of the year, American Hustle.

The movie's music supervisor, Susan Jacobs, says she wanted to use Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" in the film but couldn't find a way to make it work. After writer and record producer Mark Batson said that nothing comparable exists in English, the idea came about to do a cover in Arabic, Jacobs told the Huffington Post. Eventually, they found Karaa through her manager, Dawn Elder. Beirut native Karaa was finishing a tour in Lebanon when she sang the song a cappella into her phone for the audition. 

"We knew immediately from her iPhone demo that she was going to be great," Jacobs told the Huffington Post. Edler, Batson, and Hanin Omar put together an Arabic arrangement of the song, and Karaa cut a stirring version of it in L.A. a week after her audition. 

Karaa was honored this month by Lebanon’s Cultural Minister Gaby Layoun for the performance.