In 2007, Vancouverborn Nadeen Lingawi’ secretly’ started a career on SoundCloud. Due to cultural change in Saudi Arabia, 28-year-olds are now providing “roaring performances” at music festivals.
After posting her music online for the first time anonymously more than ten years ago, a Saudi architect who is currently in practice is flourishing as an independent musician in the country. She attributes her success to the kingdom’s quick cultural change.
Last December, Nadine Lingawi, better known by her stage name Fulana (which is Arabic for “Anonymous Woman”), put up a thunderous performance at XP Music Futures in Riyadh and Balad Beast in Jeddah.
I gave a performance not far from the hotel my family ran.
It’s intriguing to introduce music to a location where my family has deep connections.
She remarked that it felt like coming full circle and was the finest sensation ever.
The Jeddah singer writes songs about ordinary life, heartache, loss, and love.
They have so many layers—like it’s 1,000 talks in one track—that they are rich in emotion. Lingawi, 28, told Arab News: What I’m singing about isn’t just about me; it’s about a topic and a feeling that everyone can identify with. Our collective story is told in Fulana.
Born in Vancouver, Canada, Lingawi has been writing expressive, mature songs, primarily in English, since 2010, inspired by a variety of musicians including Metric, Bob Moses, BANKS, SOHN, Bonbo, Fakear and even Lady Gaga. She has also created many songs in Arabic to connect with her community.
Lingawi wants her audience to feel happy and good inside and out when she performs live. I really want to humanize it, so when I’m on stage I try to make it.. I don’t want to say it’s dancing, it’s much more alive, just to make people emotional with me, she said. The passionate singer’s journey began in 2007 when she decided to unleash her talent anonymously as Fulana on SoundCloud, the online platform for aspiring musicians.
Start of the song
I started out by doing it in complete secrecy. I uploaded it to SoundCloud. Perhaps because it was more therapeutic when I first started making music, I didn’t want anyone to identify it with me. For me, it served as a form of therapy. Lingawi didn’t start performing in public until the kingdom’s recent cultural transformation, joining the countless other artists who gained prominence in Saudi Arabia. Lingawi earned a record deal with Wall of Sound in 2021, a company in the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s
independent music scene. With musicians like El Waili, Dirty Backseat, Idreesi, Samar Tarik, Skeleton Crowd, and Klinsh, among others, the label transcends national boundaries in the area.
Wall of Sound had signed and launched the careers of more than 20 artists who have released more than 80 songs on music platforms and performed in more than 40 gigs in the Kingdom and wider region since 2021.
“I never found the safe space, but in Wall of Sound, they had no expectations of me but to be myself … they are home to me, and my godfather, truly the person who saved me, is Ahmed Shawly.”
According to Lingawai, her primary occupation as an architect has also influenced her music and creativity. This is best exemplified by the song “Minarets,” which is about hardship, salvation, and the rise and fall of faith and hope.
An instructor of mine once told me that, in essence, architecture is frozen music.
I gained a lot of understanding of the structure and weight of music via my study of architecture.
You’d discover that there’s always a sense of spaciousness in some tracks