Aaliyah Jackson
Sophomore Aaliyah Jackson put together the music playlists for the MENA Special Olympics event at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Winning Playlist

She was the maestro of background music for the MENA Special Olympics events at NYU Abu Dhabi

You might say that making the perfect playlist is both an art and a science.

Aaliyah Jackson — a music technology major at NYU Steinhardt who’s studying away at NYUAD this semester —  jumped at the chance to be the maestro of background music for athletes, fans, and volunteers at this month’s Special Olympics MENA Games held at NYUAD.

“Someone reached out to my professor asking for students to put together music playlists for the Special Olympics and he sent us all an email. So, I stepped up.”

 

“I love making playlists. There’s something about seeing people cheer and dance to music that you made  — it just gives me so much pride.”

Aaliyah Jackson, NYU Class of 2020

Carefully selected music, she says, stirs emotion and excitement at large-scale sporting events, particularly during the award ceremonies, celebratory times, downtime between events, and helps to build hype for athletes before they compete.

“I love making playlists. There’s something about making a specific flow to emotions via music. It’s so powerful. I like to start out with music everyone typically knows that’s upbeat so that everyone can get on the same page and then start a journey through emotions between tempo, feel, and lyrical content. That way, you can create emotional waves that flow through time taking each person on a sonic adventure!”

“When it came to choosing songs in Arabic, I looked up popular music in the Gulf region as well as the Middle East. I looked up the lyrics and translated them to English to make sure they fit into the category of clean pop/hype music, celebration music, or national anthems (not the formal ones but songs that speak to generations in certain nations). I did the same with popular western music.”

It’s really special to me to have made the playlists for these games. There’s something about seeing people cheer and dance to music that you made and they have no idea the person who made it is standing right next to them. It’s so special on a personal level — it just gives me so much pride.”

Jackson is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA.

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