Moving The Performing Landscape Into A New Era – Introducing Shargeeya

Saudi artist Sarah Saihati is the talk of the town in the KSA. Known to her fans as Shargeeya, her identity as an artist has managed to cross borders and even mediums. Shargeeya’s artistic journey was kindled on the bustling streets of Los Angeles. At the tender age of seven, she found solace and purpose in the power of dance classes. It was here that her innate talent for art to transcend boundaries and inspire began to bloom, and the rhythm of her heart found its first beat. We sit down with the performer and find out exactly what makes her tick and how she’d like to see the creative landscape evolve in the KSA for female performers.

Who is “Shargeeya” as an artist?

In the simplest of terms, a visionary. A lover of everything performance and an advocate for artistic expression.

You’re a Saudi Arabian artist but have spent time in LA and now live in NYC. Can you tell us more about your background and how it has influenced your art?

I moved around a lot growing up. I started my creative journey in LA at the age of 8, as a dancer. The resources for it were truly endless. Coming back to Saudi was difficult at first because I no longer had that accessibility. I’m also half Lebanese so I spent some time there during my upbringing and I’m currently studying in NYC to complete my undergrad where I study Communication Design. Being able to grow up in these different parts of the world truly had an impact on the way I express myself. I’m proud of my roots and see so much beauty in my culture, so I try to weave it into all of my creative pieces, such as my first single Forbidden Fruit. I had the intention of including a more oriental track while adding in Arabic lyrics, we have a beautiful sound and I really wanted that to be portrayed.

“I want to show the world that Saudi women are so capable of creating something impactful.’’

We know you come from a background of dance – what inspired you to pivot into music?

It was the most natural occurrence and shift. Songwriting, in general, was something I used as an outlet, being able to put a mess of thoughts into a moving structure calmed my mind, but it was never something I considered sharing. With the support of family and friends, it gave me the ability to be brave and essentially share a piece of myself with the world. I tend to write music based on personal experiences, and being able to verbally express something with the inclusion of visually portraying it, creates a more impactful message. I decided to combine the two things I loved most and create something bigger and better. It’s the start of something much grander than I would have imagined for myself.

What has dance and music taught you – and how did you find the overlaps of combining music and dance as a performance piece?

Dance and music have both made me truly understand my personality and have seriously tested it. What’s beautiful about both of them is that they force you to feel, they bring things to the surface, and they encourage you to confront your subconscious in a way. They taught me to connect, to express and to heal. Dance and music come hand in hand. Music is an auditory performance, so I thought, why not enhance the experience with a visual one?

“What’s beautiful about both of “them is that they force you to feel, they bring things to the surface, and they encourage you to confront your subconscious in a way.”

Tell us about your first release, Forbidden Fruit.

Forbidden Fruit was inspired by the concept of Deen versus Dunya. Moving to New York, and diving into a new culture, it’s completely normal to lose yourself and stray from what you know. I wrote the song to share my thought process when navigating certain decisions. We all indulge in things we know we shouldn’t. That’s part of the human experience; in a way, it unites us. The song has so much relatability which is why I chose to release it as the first one, I wanted to create a strong connection with my audience from the beginning of my journey and hopefully carry it all the way. Writing the song was the easy part, perfecting it took a toll on me. The process of refining showed me a lot about my personality, my creation in a way became my teacher.

What societal changes would you like to see towards dancers and female artists?

Female creatives are very vulnerable when creating their pieces. Our artwork is an extension of who we are, and we are bravely putting it out into the world, despite what society may preach is right and wrong. I hope to see a safer space provided for women to freely express themselves. I want to see Arab women being able to be a part of performances such as Cirque du Soleil. We can be a part of something so grand and beautiful.

What’s your view on the evolving performance landscape in KSA?

The fact that there are now spaces for performances at all is such a huge improvement. I couldn’t be prouder to be an artist from the KSA. There are so many different emerging talents from Saudi Arabia, and it’s beautiful to see people come together within the region and support one another. Now is our time

What is next for you as an artist, what can we expect?

You can expect a new performer on the rise. I don’t just dance. I don’t just make music. I am in the process of creating stories, auditory and visual ones. “Lafena” is the next song I will be releasing and the goal is to finish this year with an EP. I’m going to create art worth watching.

What do you want your impact to be?

I want to show the world that Saudi women are so capable of creating something impactful. We can create beautiful artistic movements and I want to show my community that with determination and resilience, we can truly accomplish anything. I want them to believe a dream doesn’t need to stay a dream, but can most definitely become reality.

What is authenticity to you?

Authenticity to me, means being raw, being vulnerable, and being able to be 100% yourself in every situation. As people, we are all so different and so unique, and there is so much beauty in that. If you allow yourself to grow into your individuality and carry it with you in everything you say and do, you will always be authentic.

Less is more or more is more?

Both. Where more is more, it should be your dreams, your goals, your desires in the world and the work you put into achieving them. There is no limitation and there doesn’t need to be one. If you put more work into something you will surely receive more from it. Where less is more, I view it as quality over quantity. This includes the people around you, the number of things you choose to focus on… I agree with both in different contexts.

What is style to you?

It’s a way to visualize, personify and embody your personality. Style to me is bringing the inside out – it’s another form of expression. The way you represent yourself to the world is completely in your control when it comes to style. I just hope that people can appreciate mine and come to see facets of themselves within it.