January ‘15
Insight Interview

January ‘15
Shady Sheha
Shady Sheha


    


Shady Sheha impressed everyone with his talent and charm, from the judges' panel to the studio audiences and even home viewers worldwide when he took part in 'The Voice of Germany'. With his blind audition and battle videos reaching more than 100,000 clicks on YouTube, Shady is more than happy to have reached that far on a program so popular. He opens up to Insight about his experience in 'The Voice', his favorite coaches and his aspirations for performing concerts, releasing an album and embarking on a singing career.

What can you tell us about yourself?

I was born in Cairo in 1977. I grew up between Cairo and Vienna. I graduated from the German School and studied to become a certified interpreter in German, English and Arabic languages. I also speak French and Italian fluently. In 2003 I participated in the talent show 'German Idol' where I made new experiences and advanced to the final 90 out of 19,500 contestants after several TV appearances. The same year I wrote and recorded a song called 'On The Ride' for the World Music / Fusion project album 'Eastenders', which was released a year later and was nominated as the Top 30 World Music Album of 2004. The song has already been licensed for several compilations in the USA and UK. Lately I have been a participant in 'The Voice of Germany' where I reached the TOP 16 round.


What encouraged you to participate in 'The Voice of Germany'?

I have been passionate about singing since I was six years old. Now at 37, I want to see how far my voice and my performance would take me if I entered a competition like this. Of course I had my doubts in the beginning and I didn't know if they would even pick me out of the thousands who applied for a spot on The Voice's big stage. It's a very long process until you know months later after many casting rounds if you will be invited to the big show. And I was. That was already a very big success and I was very proud. But it was just the beginning.


What did the experience add to you?

It was such an amazing experience on so many levels! First of all I met many wonderful people and amazing talents and I made lots of new friends. I had the pleasure of working with professional vocal coaches and meeting international stars. It was a great experience to be standing on a big stage in front of 2000 people in the audience and millions of viewers on TV screens and working with the best musicians in Germany!


During the blind auditions, did you already know which judge you were going to pick?

No, I didn't! Especially because I was standing behind a curtain during the audition and I couldn't see if any of them had turned around. The production team had asked me if I'd be willing to sing from behind the curtain, because they were amazed by the fact that I was an Egyptian guy with brown skin and dark hair, who was singing a country song with a perfect southern slang, while everyone would be expecting an American cowboy doing that. So they wanted to maximize this effect and not only let the coaches wonder what I looked like, but also the audience in the studio and the viewers at home. And it worked! Samu Haber and Rea Garvey were my favorite coaches from the beginning and I knew that I would pick one of them, if they both turned around.


What did you learn from your coach Samu Haber?

Samu is such a cool guy! He admired my performance and my stage presence from the first moment and the most important advice he gave me was to be myself on stage. He told me that my strength is how I communicate with the audience while I'm singing and that I should capitalize on it and keep doing it. Also Rea was very touched by my performance, especially at the battles. He said I was sexy and that I should use that!


Why did you choose 'The Voice' rather than any other talent program?

I chose 'The Voice' because it is a bit different from other shows. It mostly concentrates on featuring the talents for their musical ability and their performance and not because of their origin or ethnicity, their life stories, their looks or their skin color. Everyone who makes it to the big stage at 'The Voice' is a good singer, while there are other shows that invite people and show them on TV but they simply can't sing!


Who was your fiercest competitor?

My fiercest competitor was an Afro - American singer from Chicago who lives in Berlin. He has an amazingly strong voice and an incredible singing technique. When I was told that he would be my direct opponent in the battle round, I thought that would be the end and that I didn't stand a chance against him. I knew that technically he was stronger than me, so I had to try and play with my performance and my charm and use them together with my voice to my advantage. Anyone who has seen the battle video will know that I won. I actually needed a few hours to realize that I really made it against such a strong and professional singer. Both my blind audition and battle videos reached over 100,000 clicks on YouTube!


Who do you look up to as a singer?

My favourite singer is Garth Brooks. He is an American singer / songwriter. His first album was released in 1989 and peaked at number two in the US country album charts while climbing to number 13 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Brooks' integration of rock elements into his recordings and live performances earned him immense popularity. This progressive approach allowed him to dominate the country single and album charts while crossing over into the mainstream pop arena. So if I ever record an album and every Egyptian buys one copy, I will sell more than Garth Brooks. But that's just a wishful dream!


Being the first Egyptian to reach the finals, have you gotten a lot of support from the Egyptian and Middle Eastern media?

Not as much as I had hoped. I was invited to appear on the MBC program 'Yahdos Fi Masr' with Sherif Amer to be the main guest of the show and talk about my success on German television and sing a few songs, I was very honored. Apart from that there were a few articles about me on TNN and an online magazine called 'Dotmasr'.


What's next for Shady Sheha?

It's my dream to make a big concert in Cairo with a big crowd of at least 1000 people. I think this is one of the things missing in Cairo. I know there are nice places to go to and enjoy live music like the Cairo Jazz Club, The Riverside in Zamalek or Villa 55 in Maadi. But there are no concerts, where people can buy tickets in advance, where there are international artists, where there are promoters and sponsors. I'm sure there are good event organizers in Cairo who could pull off a concert like that. Apart from live appearances I'm hoping to get together with producers and songwriters and take my talent to the next level. I would love to record an album and put it out there. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky!


By Rania Ihab