Russ (Russell Vitale)
This week, Saudi Arabia is celebrating yet another first as the Kingdom pushes for more mixed gender events: American hip-hop artist, singer, and songwriter Russ (real name Russell Vitale) has announced that he will be heading to the Kingdom this summer to host a rare concert in Jeddah that can be attended by both female and male fans. Russ announced the amazing news in a series of tweets, saying the event has been years in the making.
In a series of tweets, the 25-year-old artist explained that getting Saudi authorities to approve the event, as well as planning and negotiating the concert, has been ongoing for three years. “Can’t believe I’m finally doing a show in Saudi took so long to plan and there was a lotttttaa times where it didn’t even seem possible. 3 years in the making!! I love y’all!! July 12” read one of his tweets.
Russ is known for his singles “What They Want” and “Losin Control,” which peaked respectively at number 83 and 63 on the US Billboard Hot 100. His debut Columbia studio album “There’s Really A Wolf” was released in 2017 and this year in April it was certified Platinum.
The concert, which will see a rare mixing of genders in Saudi Arabia, falls under the Kingdom’s attempts at pushing for greater cultural and entertainment offerings. Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan to diversify its economy and transform its society, the Kingdom has opened its doors to the world and is working to enrich its arts, culture, heritage, and tourism sectors.
Over the past year, public concerts, cinemas, global forums, international conferences, and other entertainment options have been introduced in Saudi Arabia, to the excitement and support of many of the country’s citizens, particularly young Saudis.
In February last year, for instance, Saudi Arabia held its first concerts in years in different cities across the Kingdom. In April 2017, a mixed-gender Japanese orchestra was hosted in Riyadh and exactly a year later the country held another mixed-gender concert, which was headlined by Egyptian singer Nihad Fathy.