Arab Women’s Fashion Week returns with international programming

JEDDAH: Some of Saudi Arabia’s most talented young musicians presented their work to Hayy Jameel on Tuesday as part of a project to promote emerging artists in the Kingdom.

The musical experiment was a collaboration between Jeddah-based creative hub Middle Tennessee State University and Grammy-nominated sound engineer John Merchant.

Dr. Sean Foley, a professor at the university specializing in Saudi arts and culture, attended the musical experience, with Merchant handling the sound.

Performers who serenaded the crowd were Ghada Sheri, Hamza Hawsawi, Ahmed Amin and Moe Abdo.

Sara Al-Omran, deputy manager of Hayy Jameel, told Arab News that their goal with the concert was to promote new artists. “We really wanted to amplify and highlight emerging artists who are doing something exciting and trying to explore music as an art form…that’s why we chose these singers.”

Ghada Sheri, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter, performed some of her own innovative Arab-Indian songs. “I thought it would be a great experience because Hayy Jameel is a beautiful place with a beautiful community. It was also Women’s Day so everything went perfectly,” she told Arab News.

Sheri wore a pink costume while performing songs she had written herself. She said that after years of singing alone in her bedroom, she has found a place to belong and a platform through which she can deliver her messages. “I want Saudi musicians and artists to know that there is always a place for them and that they should stick to their dreams.”

Abdo, a 30-something with many musical talents, performed his own composition at the start of the concert and then played bass and guitar for the rest of the evening with other musicians. Abdo, a Sudanese artist, born and raised in Saudi Arabia, said he has seen how audiences have changed in the country as well as changes in the music scene.

Amin performed many of his own soulful R&B songs, then jammed with other performers with beautiful drum beats. Hawsawi, who won the X-Factor Middle East competition in 2015, ended the night performing a catchy song that left the crowd buzzing with energy and eager for more.

Hawsawi told Arab News, “These events mean a lot to artists like us because they put us in the spotlight, especially today. This concert allowed us to interact with people on a semi-personal level because of the intimate setting.

Rakan Farhan, the event’s project manager, hoped the concert would help promote the Saudi music industry, meet international standards and create a space where local and Western sounds could meet.

“We have a mentality here in our community that if one of us succeeds, we all succeed, that’s why we support each other. The songs we (compose) show our cultural perspective as musicians to the world,” Farhan told Arab News.

Speaking to Arab News as the performers strutted their stuff, Foley said he was impressed with the performers. “My only goal from tonight was for people to see how strong the independent music scene is in the Kingdom. I look at the artistic and cultural community with a sense of admiration. The artists I spoke with m opened my eyes to things I had never seen before.

Foley said he came from a family of writers, poets and performers, but sought to collaborate with Merchant for his deep understanding of the music industry.

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