Singer Elyanna says her Saudi debut at SOUNDSTORM festival to be biggest show yet

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Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna sat down with Al Arabiya English ahead of her first performance in Saudi Arabia to discuss her upcoming show in the Kingdom, showcasing the Arabic music scene, and what fans can expect to see next from the young international star.

Since starting off with singing covers of popular songs on social media, Elyanna has made waves globally with the release of her self-titled EP in 2020 and her hit single ‘Ana Lahale,’ which racked up 17 million Spotify streams and featured Lebanese-Canadian artist Massari.

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The young artist is now set to take the stage in Saudi Arabia for the very first time in front of thousands of eager fans at the Middle East’s biggest music festival SOUNDSTORM on December 3.

“I am so excited. This is the first time I’ll be in Saudi Arabia. It’s a new place for me and I love it. I’m super excited to be performing at SOUNDSTORM, also because we prepared a lot for it. This is also the first time I will be doing a 40-minute set. I never performed a show of this scale. I’m so happy I’ll be performing, and I can’t wait to see who else is performing as well,” Elyanna told Al Arabiya English at the XP Music Futures conference in Riyadh.

The 20-year-old rose to fame after landing on the radar of Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Nasri Atweh when she moved to the US at the age of 15. Impressed by her unique sound, Atweh introduced her to powerhouse music industry executive and manager Wassim Slaiby, better known as ‘Sal,’ and Massari.

Sal, who is best known for representing global artists The Weeknd and Doja Cat, took her under his wing when he heard her sing.

While she never thought of performing in Arabic, Elyanna came to realize that singing in her mother tongue would not only distinguish her from other up-and-coming artists in America, but it would also shed light on the beauty of Arabic culture.

“Arabic definitely could be an international sound with all the people who support it and work hard to showcase it at a global level. I listen to Spanish music a lot and I don’t really understand it, but at the end of the day it’s an exciting experience to listen to music in a different language and people listen to it even if they don’t really understand what is being said. I really think Arabic music has that potential to be global too,” Elyanna told Al Arabiya English.

“I never thought I would sing in Arabic, that was never the plan. I feel like I am introducing a new culture about Arabs, and about Palestine, about Arab women in general. I am introducing a new sound.”

Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna. (Supplied)
Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna. (Supplied)

Defining her signature sound as “Elyanna style,” the artist said she does not like to limit herself to one specific genre but rather looks for inspiration for her music from a variety of sources – including Jazz, RnB, and soul.

When asked what fans could expect next from the rising star, Elyanna said she was currently working on an album that will reveal new layers of herself to the world.

“I am so, so excited for this album because it’s going to really show who Elyanna is. It is the first time I will have so much control and input in an album. I’m just really experimenting with; I’m trying things and I’m going out of my comfort zone with this one. This album shows other layers of Elyanna that I don’t think anyone has seen before and I don’t think I thought I’m capable of doing,” she said.

“My fans can expect the unexpected. I’m doing something I didn’t expect I could do. It’s new to me. It’s different, I tried different things. It’s very experimental,” she told Al Arabiya English.

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