SHAB – A REFUGEE OF THE REVOLUTION TO INTERNATIONAL SINGING SENSATION
Captivating fans across the world, the music video of SHAB’s latest single, “Spell On Me”, has received more than two million hits. SHAB speaks with Sue Smart about her music, upcoming album and her inspirational journey.
The concept for the single came to SHAB when she started transforming her poems into songs, alongside conversations with producer Damon Sharp, who has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grande. “He’s super talented and we work so well together,” explains SHAB, who is a Persian-American crossover artist.
“I wanted the song to capture something beautiful and meaningful,” she says. “The result is a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean, sexy belly dancing vibe. It’s magical – it just worked.” The music video, which alternates between surreal and playful, was filmed in the stunning Californian desert.
Fans will have to wait for the new album, which has been pushed back to later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There are eight beautiful songs on the new album; each has a meaning and they are all intricately connected to the other and telling a story,” says SHAB.
“Damon and I worked on four songs together, and one is a super cool remix. Spell On Me is the only song on the album with a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean vibe; the other songs have a more EDM (electronic dance music), dance-pop and R&B feel,” she says.
The Musical Journey Begins
Born during the revolution in Iran, SHAB was the youngest of 13 children (she also has five siblings from her father’s previous marriage). Times were hard for her family but she was fortunate to have a strong mother.
To keep their spirits up, music played a big part in their lives and frequently they held impromptu dance parties. One of SHAB’s brothers would break dance and another brother, Shahab, would sing (he is now a well-known singer). “I admired him so much, and I was a bit shy (believe it or not) even though I was loved by many and spoiled with love,” she laughs.
“If we cleaned the house, we’d put on music, then we’d eat and all start dancing afterwards. We also watched western movies, which I thought were cool, and I loved them,” says SHAB. “It didn’t matter what was going on in the outside world because inside the home, everything was perfect.”
As a child, SHAB listened to Abba, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson; and as she got a little older, she enjoyed listening to Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion. “I just love music. Depending on my mood: if I’m working out I listen to dance or EDM; if relaxing, I listen to classical music; or if I’m cooking it’s Diana Krall and Frank Sinatra. I also like Ed Sheeran.”
A New Life in America
The family wanted to escape the country to begin a new life in America, and over time they accomplished this. “I had to go to Turkey and live there for a year, before I went to boarding school in Germany for almost four years, because I didn’t have the right paperwork to leave (we always did it the right way).” At 14, SHAB was granted a Green Card and was finally able to join her family in the US, where they have remained.
Once SHAB discovered her voice, she really wanted to sing and her family supported her, especially her brother Shahab, and she has been singing ever since. Over the past few years, she has been gaining an ever-growing loyal fan-base around the world.
Having the right support system around her has always been important to SHAB. “I’ve found great mentors throughout my life but it took time. I was imagining finding them, and one by one, they showed up, which was great. We can fall into the default zone and things will happen to us, instead of us making what we truly want to happen.”
SHAB’s mission in life is to love and be loved. “Love is the only thing; everything else is an illusion,” she says, adding she is a mother of two young children. “They make me want to be a better person. When they give me their little kisses and I hear their giggles, they really bring me back to life. They inspire me so much.”
“It’s important to keep imagining good things happening for us”
With the pandemic’s devastating impact on so many people’s lives across the world, SHAB says: “It’s important to keep imagining good things happening for us, which is so difficult at times, but we just have to get in that state and surround ourselves with good people, positivity, love, go into nature, talk to God, pray or meditate. It’s a work in progress but we are made completely complex.”
Ultimately, SHAB believes we are here to serve, to help, to love and to respect each other. “It’s so much easier to be nice and kind than to be mean; and it takes so much energy to be angry.”
SHAB’s positivity and joy are wonderfully contagious. “I choose to be happy and I believe the best is yet to come,” she says. “And music is so healing,” she adds, smiling brightly. I too, am captivated.