For some, seeing an artist of your ethnicity perform at one of the biggest festivals in the world is no surprise but, for others, it's cathartic. Elyanna is revolutionising Arab culture by becoming the first Arabic artist to perform totally in Arabic at this year's Coachella.
International recognition is a power that the dynamic Palestinian-Chilean singer now holds. “I feel so proud and recognised as an artist, I can finally share my art and who I am with the world. I feel we are being heard.” Elyanna is paving the way so others like her can have the chance to thrive in the industry, “a lot of people are talking about this, not just Arabs, but non-Arabs. I can't wait to do more, and I can't wait to see other Arab artists around the world share their art too. This is our time.”
The 21-year-old is doing the region's rich and diverse culture justice, she debuted her new single titled ‘Janeme Orr’ and performed many of her crowd-pleasing hits, “when I was performing, I could see more and more people coming, the crowd kept getting bigger. It was so exciting and beautiful to see. I got to connect with the crowd and make eye contact, it was so interesting to see the mixture of cultures in the crowd, a lot of the audience was not necessarily Arab.” Elyanna could see and feel the non-Arab audience captivated by the discovery of a culture they found themselves immersed in.
Elyanna praises the Arab artists before her who she grew up in awe of, “they walked, so one day we could run. We are now in a time where we are heard, we are on another level of creativity, and we’re open. I want to explore what these amazing artists haven't had the chance to do.” Being embraced both inside and outside the Arab world is not a common occurrence for Arab artists, which is why what Elyanna is doing now is breaking ground for other Arab artists.
Imagine the first time your mother watched you perform live at one of the most prestigious festivals in the world, Elyanna tells us how it felt to see her family, friends, and team in the crowd watching her make history. “It was crazy and beautiful to see them in the crowd. It felt surreal to be living my dream, and performing on a set that I made with my brother and thanks to him he made me feel like a rockstar.”
We ask Elyanna: What would you say to aspiring Arab artists trying to break through the industry? “Be you and don't be afraid to do something that wasn't out there before because I think that is what makes you unique and beautiful. Don't shy away from who you are and where you come from. Bring something new to the table and share your story that no one has heard before.”
“Never settle. A lot of people expect us to settle because we are Arabs or you're an immigrant. People underestimate us and I would say be picky, don't be afraid to say no. Trust your guts and how you feel. Of course, take advice from people and listen, life is about learning and experiencing stuff but sometimes no one can know better than you know.”
This performance marks a new era for the region and an even newer one for the world. The virtuosity that Arab culture exudes is becoming globally recognised. Elyanna represented the best of Arab culture in her performance, from her sensational voice and dancing to waving the Palestinian keffiyeh as she walked off stage. The world is now having a cultural awakening and it is thanks to avant-garde artists like Elyanna.