The Iraqi R&B singer-songwriter is a fresh and much-needed voice on the music scene.
Sarah Shébani, known mononymously as Shébani, started out singing covers, sharing them on her YouTube channel and playing the occasional gig. She then ventured into writing original material, building up a portfolio to study at a music institute in the UK. Having completed a year of studies in London, she returned armed with the skills, perspective and confidence to kick-start her career in the Middle East.
Her lyrical songs tell stories; she wants to connect with her listeners on an emotional level and touch their lives. There’s a refreshing honesty in her lyrics and rawness in her music, best exemplified by her latest single.
Released on 26 April, In The Fire takes us through the singer’s own struggle to feel confident in her own skin, embrace her appearance, live unapologetically and attain inner peace. She says of this new chapter in her music, “I felt like I was transitioning to a more positive and self-loving phase in my life, and my new songs address that.. and so I decided that before I drop my next project, which was going to be a lot more uplifting, I wanted to share with the world the truth about the lows and not just skip everything only to celebrate the highs [...] we’re not perfect, and not all my days are going to be perfect either.”
In her early adolescence, she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: a common hormonal condition causing her to see certain changes and developments in her body during her teen years and beyond that seemed to diverge from the perceived norm.
To understand how she could practise self-love and body positivity in her own life, she learnt to look past the idealistic beauty standards imposed upon us as a measure of self-worth and show herself kindness, which ultimately led her to a healthy and peaceful mental state.
Now, the artist wants to help others experience the same personal growth. “It’s not always easy to be transparent about certain struggles that we, as humans, go through,” she confesses. “However, with music, and this song specifically, I found the courage to do so, and I’d like to shed some light on that and allow others to know that they can too!”
She thinks we should all practise self-love, spread positivity and instill confidence in one another. And it’s for everybody. “Self-love doesn’t always have to be about your appearance, but it also can be about loving who you are, understanding your purpose, accepting your flaws and working on them, treating yourself kindly and believing that you truly do deserve the best out of your life.”
As a public personality, she has a vibrant Instagram presence, documenting her effortless and eye-catching street style through the lens of her bold, neon-pink-infused aesthetic.
We’re definitely marking Shébani as one to watch.