Arts / Community

A music star says farewell to Dana Hall

“Leave me alone, Mr. Fraz! I’m not going to play with the Jug Band. Stop trying to remix my songs with Bob Dylan songs. Nobody knows who Bob Dylan is anymore!” Nora Panahi yelled out from the crowd in Waldo. In the middle of the faculty Jug Band morning meeting concert, Nora was called up on stage to sing her song “Stalker” as part of the band’s final performance of the year. She became an honorary member of the Jug Band and received a Jug Band t-shirt.

Thursday, May 14, Nora became an unofficial member of the faculty Jug Band in one of her final performances after a long music career at Dana Hall. Michael Frassinelli, Upper School art teacher and band member, explains why the band wanted to make Nora an honorary member:

“The band has been watching her development as a songwriter since she has been here at Dana. She has very clever lyrics and is pretty fearless in just churning out the songs. Stalker was her first ‘hit’ and we thought it would be fun to do a cover version in her senior year. She was willing to play along, and the performance of the mash-up of ‘Stalker’ and and Bob Dylan’s ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’ came out very well. So we made her an Honorary Member of the Jug Band for all of her working bringing music to the Dana Hall community. (Also, we figured if she becomes famous it will make us look very cool having played music with her ‘back in the day.’).”

Nora is a respected musician at Dana, and many of us can hum the lyrics to “Stalker” and “Hypotheticals” as well as other songs she has written and performed. She says, “I grew up in a musical household. Both of my parents are very musical.” Nora started playing piano at the age of four, which is when her passion for music began to take off. She also uses ukulele and guitar, as well as her voice, in her performances. In sixth grade Nora started writing her own music and continued through high school. Her performance in Dana’s musical, “Urinetown,” also shows that Nora can sing and act.

Between her Chamber Singers performances and playing some of her own compositions with the Jazz Band, Nora gets many opportunities to perform at Dana. She also performs outside of school. She created a YouTube channel a few years ago that has been a way for her to showcase her musical and comedic talent. Nora says that events in her daily life are the inspiration for many of her songs and videos. Her YouTube videos address topics ranging from her mom’s concussion to annoying boys she meets at Model U.N. conferences. The YouTube videos are something Nora says, “I plan to continue in college. It started as a way to show my music, but I realized I can show people how funny I am too.”

In terms of her music style, Nora says, “I want to say that my music is similar to the style of a great band like Green Day, but I would say it’s more like an early Taylor Swift crossed with the Smiths.” Nora explains that the inspiration for her songs from daily life experiences. Her song “Stalker” is about a boy she met in Iran who would not stop following her; it features lines such as “please stop following me.”

We all know Nora as a musician, actor, and all-school president, but what many people might not know is how she manages her time and balances her work. I asked Nora, “how do you do it all?” and she responded, “I prioritize. If I want to watch TV or do something fun, I take time to do it, but I know that my work has to get done. When I have too much to do, I try to find what is most important and make sure I can finish it.” One way that Nora deals with stress and her busy schedule is using meditation to “see what is important. Sometimes I give myself time to think about a problem or reason for stress and reflecting on it helps me determine if it’s something worth stressing about.” She shared her meditation practice and described its benefits at an X-block earlier this year.

Nora is also recognized for being a caring and supportive friend. Blair Bogle ’15 describes Nora in three words: “Confident, eccentric, and kindhearted.” Tiffany Lau ’15 comments, “Nora’s Monday morning writing prompts in Found Voices are the only reason I get out of bed for the week. They make the world a better place.”

What’s next for Nora is the release of her album, Come Whatever, on June 3, as well as upcoming performances, webcasts, and more. Nora will be missed for musical talent, leadership, and as a supportive member of the Dana Hall community, when she attends Boston University in the fall.

Image Source: Dana Hall School 

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