“I told myself, Loulwa, you should have courage and be strong and start the first step.”

Blues singer Loulwa Al Sharif has just become the first Saudi woman to perform in public in the kingdom.

While private concerts have long been held in people’s homes, Al Sharif’s recent Jeddah performance was the first featuring a woman to be approved by the General Entertainment Authority.

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Under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, restrictions on public entertainment are loosening. Earlier in April, a public screening of Black Panther ended the kingdom’s 35-year ban on cinemas.

 

And in February, a jazz festival was held in the capital of Riyadh.

“The crown prince has taken a great step, as it is something that we have all been waiting for years,” Al Sharif told Gulf News. “Saudi Arabia has a crazy amount of self-taught talent in art, acting and singing. This will now give Saudis a chance to shine and show their talent to the world.”

Al Sharif has sung all her life, but first started playing with a band about four years ago, she told the Financial Times in March.

“When I started singing live, I told myself, Loulwa, you should have courage and be strong and start the first step!”

Since then, she’s performed in private compounds.

Performing songs by artists like Sade, Adele, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana, Al Sherif got a warm reception at her recent public performance, she told Gulf News.

“I am not doing anything wrong. I am just feeding souls with love and music,” she told the site.

“Singing takes me to another world, somewhere bright, beautiful and peaceful. When I see people swaying and smiling when I’m singing, I get more passionate and energetic.”

Earlier in April, Mohammed bin Salman signed a deal with the Paris Opera regarding an opera house in Jeddah.

Maybe that’s another stage for Al Sharif to conquer…

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Images: Loulwa Al Sharif/Soundcloud