US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 February 2024
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US singer China Moses wows Riyadh audience with jazz fusion

  • Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings

RIYADH: US singer China Moses wowed the audience when she took to the stage in Riyadh.

The musician’s performance was the third of cultural and creative hub Fenaa Alawwal’s Safar Nights concert series.

She was joined by band members Jerome Cornelis on guitar, bassist and musical director Lawrence Insula, Tom Lartigue on keyboards, and Ebow “Lox” Mensah on drums.

After the show Moses told Arab News: “The crowd was lovely and so warm and welcoming. You just never know how the music is going to connect, and I really felt at the end that it was a choir — we were a family at the end.

“That makes me very happy. I’m overjoyed actually right now,” she added.

The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments.

Raised in France, she sang several of her most popular tracks including “Etre la-bas” and had fans grooving to improvised tunes such as one she described as having a barbecue tempo.

Introducing “Disconnected,” she told the audience: “This song is about getting together just like we are and just feeling the vibe, just feeling alright. So, if your feet are moving, and if your head is grooving, then that means we’re doing our job.

“We want to take a moment to celebrate our roots. With this song we’re going to celebrate Tina Turner and Al Green,” she said, before performing a cover of “Let’s Stay Together.” 




The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)

She also paid tribute to other Black musicians with renditions of Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You,” written by Prince, and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Moses’ music tackles many subjects including life, love, social encounters, pain, loneliness, and even modern societal issues such as mass shootings.

Quoting the late American singer Nina Simone, she said: “It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times.” She then sang “Sirens,” a song that she noted helped to purge the feelings of disbelief and pain after the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, and the Colorado Springs’ Club Q bar shootings in 2022.

A storyteller by nature, she uses her voice to platform both tribulations and celebrations of the African American experience.

The daughter of American jazz singer and actress Dee Dee Bridgewater, Moses blends several genres into her repertoire including blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk.

“There are so many different kinds of jazz, and so many different layers. Some of the stuff I did tonight was not planned. It’s a music of freedom. It is the music of my Black American heritage but, more importantly, a music that was a gift from such a horrible period in humanity,” Moses added. 




The 46-year-old songstress captivated the Riyadh crowd with her vocals, original compositions, and heartfelt moments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)

She pointed out that she always aimed to send her audiences home with joy and hope in their hearts.

Jazz emerged in New Orleans, influenced by spirituals and the slave experience of the African Americans in the US, the sounds of which were also rooted in ragtime and blues incorporating improvisation and syncopated rhythms. It led to various subgenres such as bebop, cool jazz, and fusion.

Moses said: “Who separated the jazz and the blues? Because that’s the same people who made both, and all those people would go to church. And if you don’t explain it that way, you don’t understand Black American society.

“You can’t understand why Black American church is so important. You can’t understand why jazz can sound so warm and round and rugged and raw, like the blues. And you don’t understand why the blue sounds so simple.”

Saudi Arabia has recently hosted top artists including R and B and soul singer Alicia Keys, rapper Lauryn Hill in AlUla during Saudi Founding Day celebrations, and queen of funk Chaka Khan (a close friend of Moses’ mother) who performed at Riyadh’s first International Jazz Festival earlier this month.

“I’ve played in a lot of places in the world I never thought I would play because I do Black American music. I think that that’s a testament to the power and universality of it.

“Alicia Keys is a universal person. We have the same message, we just express it in different ways because we’re different people,” Moses added.

Starting her career at the age of 16, Moses said she had never imagined performing around the world, hosting two radio shows, and becoming a co-founder and artistic director to both the Tahiti Soul Jazz festival, and Paris Soul Fest.

On her advice to the rising talents on the Saudi music scene, Moses said: “Be yourself, and don’t be afraid to explain. The music is enough, of course. But don’t be afraid to talk to the audience.

“Whether you choose to express yourself through spoken word, sung word, or no words with your voice, you’re communicating. For me, the most important thing is to do the best with what you have. There’s beauty in all of us,” she added.


Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources

Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia did not participate in intercepting Iranian attacks on Israel – sources

  • Israeli news websites have alleged Kingdom participated in recent defense coalition that confronted Iranian attacks
  • Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel on Saturday evening into Sunday morning in response to Israeli strikes

RIYADH: Informed sources denied to Al Arabiya on Monday Saudi Arabia’s participation in intercepting Iranian drones during its attack on Israel on Saturday.

Israeli news websites had published statements attributed to an official Saudi website stating that the Kingdom participated in the recent defense coalition that confronted the Iranian attacks.

“There is no official website that published a statement about Saudi participation in intercepting attacks against Israel,” the sources told Al Arabiya.

Iran launched drones and missiles toward Israel on Saturday evening into Sunday morning and described the attack as a response to several crimes, including the strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1.

Tehran indicated that the attack targeted military targets, while the Israeli army announced that it intercepted 99 percent of the Iranian missiles.


Saudi king, crown prince send condolences to Sultan of Oman after flood deaths

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi king, crown prince send condolences to Sultan of Oman after flood deaths

  • A group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken

RIYADH: King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday sent cables of condolences to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq after 17 people died in flooding in several parts of Oman.

The Saudi leaders sent their sincerest condolences to the sultan, and the families of the deceased, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A group of school children and a driver died when their vehicle was overtaken, authorities said.
Civil defense officials gave the death toll for the rains, which saw Oman’s North Al Sharqiyah province hardest hit. The Royal Oman Police and the Omani military deployed to the province to transport citizens out of flooded areas

Heavy rainfall often causes flash flooding in the sultanate, drawing the curious from their homes to nearby dry riverbeds, known in Arabic as “wadi.” In flooding, they can quickly fill and wash away people and vehicles.

— with input from The Associated Press

 


Saudi independent musician takes road less traveled

Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi independent musician takes road less traveled

  • Artist SOVL speaks on the challenges and joys of making music independently

RIYADH: As the music scene diversifies in Saudi Arabia, from psychedelic rock to electronic dance, young artist SOVL is bringing a new flavor to the mix.

SOVL is a self-taught independent musician who was on a quest to create a top-notch, industry-standard album on his own that reflected his personal artistry and carried a meaningful narrative. He platformed a distinct blend of alternative, modern, and indie rock, all rooted in the DNA of guitar music.

“As an independent musician, it’s a harder process than someone, say, signed to a label. But I try to take advantage of what I have,” he said.

SOVL visually represents the theme of ‘Too Much Is Not Enough’ on the album’s cover with the image of the artist pouring water into an already large and abundant sea. (Supplied)

The Saudi rockstar, 22, debuted his first album “Too Much Is Not Enough” last December. The album represented a bold artistic leap as SOVL, a producer, songwriter, and singer, ventured into the captivating realm of full-length storytelling through his music.

The 10-track work is an emotional odyssey. Open to interpretation, the songs become a canvas upon which the listener’s own feelings are painted.

In a world where the pursuit of “too much” often takes center stage, “Too Much Is Not Enough” offers a message that resonates with all: In the pursuit of everything, we must not forget to preserve the most essential part of our being — ourselves.

I firmly believe that you can write and record music right from your own bedroom and doing so can make the final product more genuine, presenting your art exactly as you envision it.

SOVL, Saudi music artist

But before the full body of work came along, his journey was nothing but relentless.

“When I laid my hands on my first electric guitar in 2019, I was taking a different approach in learning the instrument,” he said. His technique was more makeshift than anything: placing his fingers wherever they landed or strumming whatever sounded right until he began learning some basics of guitar chord theory.

SOVL, Saudi music artist

He later began recording his music on the beginner-friendly GarageBand before moving on to using the Logic Pro software and experimenting with different sounds.

SOVL released his single “What’s Going On?” in 2021, his first official launch into the local music scene as an indie alternative artist. The refreshing sound brings listeners back to the rock gems of the 70s like The Who and The Clash, who inspired much of his music.

He also tries to infuse a bit of Arabic spirit into his music; the oud instrument makes an appearance in some of his songs, including “Ana.”

While making music is the easy part, some other aspects of the industry like marketing and distribution can be difficult to tackle.

A record label, for example, would handle cover art, music video production, and music distribution. “It (would have) been much easier to sign with a record label so they could get all that sorted,” he said.

Regardless of the challenges, SOVL expressed his joy in having the freedom of creative direction: “I’m a strong advocate for the do-it-yourself approach. I firmly believe that you can write and record music right from your own bedroom and doing so can make the final product more genuine, presenting your art exactly as you envision it.

“Don’t get me wrong; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with signing to a major label,” he noted. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for those who have it. However, in a world flooded with too much music content, it can be challenging to stand out and get your unique sound heard.”

For his first album’s cover art, he enlisted the help of his friends. They took an impromptu one-day trip to the Eastern Province for the makeshift photoshoot and ended up filming one of his music videos there as well.

“It takes a whole lot of belief, and my friends have had my back since the get-go,” he said about the experience.

Many independent artists now are utilizing social media platforms like TikTok to promote their music, but SOVL says their approach is a bit “cliche” for his persona.

Personifying a rather mysterious image, hence the anonymous stage name, and presenting a style that is much more nuanced than generic pop, he allows his sound and lyrics to speak for themselves.

His album, although niche in genre, presents an exploration of a rather universal experience. He narrates the battle within to settle for what we already have. The theme is encapsulated in the album cover, which features the artist pouring water into an already plentiful and vast sea.

What distinguishes SOVL is his continuous pursuit to diversify not just genres but the very composition of albums in the novel Saudi music industry. Concept albums, which can tell a larger story than what could be contained in a single track, enhance the listeners’ experience of various notions.

SOVL is adamant about making and releasing music that is authenticated by genuine and soulful feelings, and his name serves as a reminder of that.

He said: “The album is super focused lyrically, on the theme, the sound, and some of the listeners criticized me on that point. Because it was my first album, (they believe) it should be a showcase of what you’re capable of, but on a broader aspect.

“With the Extended Edition, going forward, I’m going to broaden the sound, experiment a bit, but still with the same themes … It’s also to compel the story.”

While the writing and producing process is personal and self-centric, the product may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he said. Pop sensibility is not the artist’s goal, but he understands that broadening the scope of his work, even slightly, will create a more palatable experience for listeners to get into more psychedelic and grunge alternative rock.

“What I’m trying to do here is get people interested in different colors of music,” he said. “This is one that hasn’t been targeted yet here (in Saudi Arabia), but I’m really glad to try and start it.

“The scene here and the talents are still developing their musical identities … If you’re interested in music, just go for it. Once you start and find it’s really interesting, you’re maybe gifted, so try to invest more time on that,” he added.  

SOVL’s goal is to prove, not only to himself but also to his friends and aspiring musicians, that artists can take an indie approach and still achieve their dreams in the world of music.

His album is out now on all popular streaming platforms.

 

 


King Salman Royal Reserve — an ecological haven

Updated 15 April 2024
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King Salman Royal Reserve — an ecological haven

  • Fahd Al-Shawaier told Arab News: “The diverse wildlife inhabiting the area is huge … Arabian oryx groups were recently released, and plans are underway to reintroduce species formerly present in the area”

JEDDAH: In the northern part of the Kingdom, the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve, which is recognized by BirdLife International, has strengthened its standing as one of the biggest and most important bird regions in the world through recent expansions.

The additions to the global bird sites within the reserve include the At-Turaif area, Harrat crater, Hail area, and Tabarjal. These areas, situated on major bird migration paths, are considered important protection areas.

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including rocky environments, mountain slopes, and dunes, provides habitat for resident and migratory wildlife species. (Supplied)

Within the expansive boundaries of the reserve, a remarkable 290 species of wild birds have been recorded. An astonishing 88 percent of these are migratory, making a stop in the reserve, while 12 percent are resident.

FASTFACTS

• 58 percent of the total birds recorded in all regions of the Kingdom find refuge within the King Salman Royal Reserve, underscoring its importance for avian conservation efforts.

• The additions to the global bird sites within the reserve include the At-Turaif area, Harrat crater, Hail area, and Tabarjal.

Notably, 58 percent of the total birds recorded in all regions of the Kingdom find refuge within the reserve, underscoring its importance for avian conservation efforts. Alarmingly, 25 species among them are listed on the Red List of Threatened Species.

A jewel in the crown

At the heart of the reserve lies Al-Khunfah Natural Reserve, spanning more than 20,000 sq km on the edge of the Nafud desert. Designated as a natural reserve in 1987, Al-Khunfah boasts a natural landscape characterized by sedimentary formations and sandstone, displaying a diverse color palette ranging from dark brown to white, with shades of gray and light brown.

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including rocky environments, mountain slopes, and dunes, provides habitat for resident and migratory wildlife species. (Supplied)

The biodiversity within Al-Khunfah is spectacular, encompassing a variety of fungal, animal and plant species. Resident and migratory birds, including the houbara bustard and cranes, find sanctuary here, alongside trees such as arfaj, athel, arta, talh, harmal and lavender.

Fahd Al-Shawaier, director of communication and public relations at the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve Development Authority, told Arab News: “The diverse wildlife inhabiting the area is huge … Arabian oryx groups were recently released, and plans are underway to reintroduce species formerly present in the area.”

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including rocky environments, mountain slopes, and dunes, provides habitat for resident and migratory wildlife species. (Supplied)

These efforts aim to restore degraded ecosystems.

Al-Khunfah does not merely house avian wonders; it hosts various reptile species, as well as rabbits and foxes. From the majestic Arabian wolf, sand cat, wild cat, and the false cobra to the elusive desert warbler, wild rabbit and desert hedgehog, the reserve is home to many species.

NUMBER

290

A remarkable 290 species of wild birds have been recorded within the expansive boundaries of the King Salman Royal Reserve.

The area is also inhabited by many resident bird species such as the Arabian partridge, greater hoopoe-lark, owl and long-legged buzzard, and migratory birds such as the steppe eagle, eastern imperial eagle, vulture and saker falcon.

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including rocky environments, mountain slopes, and dunes, provides habitat for resident and migratory wildlife species. (Supplied)

Al-Khunfah hosts a variety of habitats for reptile species such as the desert warbler, lizard, frog-headed lizard and fringed-toed lizard, among others.

There is one rabbit species in Al-Khunfah, the cape hare, and two fox species, the red fox and Ruppell’s fox, Al-Shawaier said.

Al-Khunfah’s mountains and highlands showcase nature’s splendor across areas such as Bagheith, Al-Asmar, Anz, Abu Talihat, Dhaea, Al-Dhahakiya, and valleys such as Al-Fater, Niyal, Al-Saileh, Al-Aqeelah, Abu Mataya and Wadi Al-Mawrida. Seasonal rains, ranging from 50 to 100 mm, sustain the land, plants, trees and wildlife habitats.

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including rocky environments, mountain slopes, and dunes, provides habitat for resident and migratory wildlife species. (Supplied)

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including sandy and rocky environments, plains, mountain slopes and dunes, provides habitats for resident and migratory wildlife species.

While seasonal rains are crucial for plant growth and diversity, flooding resulting from these rains can pose challenges to certain plant species.

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including rocky environments, mountain slopes, and dunes, provides habitat for resident and migratory wildlife species. (SPA)

The rains work to rejuvenate soil fertility and improve its composition, contributing to the creation of an ideal environment for the growth of plant species, including annual herbs (which are aided by the rains to complete their life cycle), as well as the flourishing of trees, shrubs and perennial herbs during the rainy season, which enhances plant diversity in the area, Al-Shawaier said.

“However, it should be noted that floods resulting from these rains can negatively affect plants, especially those that do not tolerate continuous water immersion,” he said.

The reserve’s diverse terrain, including rocky environments, mountain slopes, and dunes, provides habitat for resident and migratory wildlife species. (Supplied)

Temporary basins are formed, supplying resident and migratory wildlife with their water needs while the basins last.

Al-Shawaier said that the reserve has implemented various programs, initiatives and projects, including surveying and monitoring wildlife, reintroduction programs, post-release monitoring, and initiatives to maintain vegetation cover and habitats.

These efforts are crucial for meeting conservation targets and ensuring the long-term sustainability of this ecological haven.

 

 


Saudi Shoura speaker visits Jordan to strengthen ties

Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi Shoura speaker visits Jordan to strengthen ties

  • Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh emphasized that the leaderships of both countries are keen to strengthen and consolidate bilateral relations to meet the aspirations of their brotherly peoples

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council Speaker Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh arrived in Jordan on Monday for an official visit.

Al-Asheikh leads a delegation from the council who were officially invited by Ahmed Safadi, the speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives.

Upon his arrival at Queen Alia International Airport in the capital Amman, he was received by Safadi, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Jordan Nayef bin Bandar Al-Sudairi, and several senior officials of the Jordanian House of Representatives.

In a statement, Al-Asheikh commended the progress and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Jordan in various fields. He emphasized that the leaderships of both countries are keen to strengthen and consolidate bilateral relations to meet the aspirations of their brotherly peoples.

He praised the Shoura Council’s use of parliamentary diplomacy to promote relations between Saudi Arabia and other countries, through which the council seeks to build bridges that consolidate relations, share views, and highlight the Kingdom’s positions on various issues and events.

During the visit, Al-Asheikh will hold talks with Safadi, focusing on enhancing cooperation in parliamentary fields, unifying efforts by coordinating common positions and visions in regional and international forums and platforms, and strengthening mechanisms of dialogue and parliamentary cooperation. He will also meet with Senate President Faisal Al-Fayez, Senate officials and other senior officials in Jordan.