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Saudi Singer TamTam’s New Song Steals Our Hearts

Always inspired by her own experiences, TamTam’s work is an exploration of her dual identity.

Even a pandemic won’t slow TamTam down when it comes to creating new tracks. After the quirky and playful “Strawberries,” the LA-based artist has come up with “Heartsick,” a song that’s bustling with energy and all about realising how connected all human beings are, especially at a time like this.

For her newest single, which is Co-Produced by Saüd, a fellow Saudi, the songstress has gone complete R&B. The single sees the Riyadh-born and raised singer and songwriter shift style and genre yet again, with the traditional R&B sounds lending to the dreamy and soulful mood. Additionally, TamTam, a nickname meaning African Drum, which was given to the versatile songbird by Kuwaiti music producer Zahed Sultan, is gearing up to release a new project. It is where she “embraces her identity as a bridge between the Middle East and the West more than ever before,” according to her website.

“I see my music and myself as that bridge between the Middle East and the West. Music is the only language everyone can speak,” the singer known for embracing many genres, an expressive, high-pitched voice and wild golden curls, says on the website.

A Career Based On Socially Mindful Music 
TamTam, who usually visits Saudi regularly, has had a passion for music since she was a young child. And it was probably thanks to the many hours of karaoke at home that she earned a standing ovation after her first live performance. The moment came during a school talent show, when she staged Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” And that was the instant she decided she wanted a career in music. Moving to LA, where there are so many opportunities in the industry, when she was 13, was the beginning of her journey.

The artist, who cites Michael Jackson and Fayrouz as inspirations, is known for her catchy melodies, whether contemporary classical, pop, alternative R&B or electro. TamTam also uses powerful autobiographical lyrics to empower women and champion understanding, with many of the bold words exploring the challenges she faces as an unapologetic Arab woman. The liberal and thought-provoking Saudi, who resonates with her country's youth, also tackles other aspects of life with her impressive vocals.

Her 2012 debut, “Little Girls,” was about a young girl who wants to be taken seriously. Seventeen at the time, TamTam appeared with a blurred face for the YouTube music video. The real launch of her career came in 2014, when she wrote and released her second single, “Gender Game.” The song that touches on gender equality and her story as a Saudi woman pursuing a music career particularly struck a chord with women in the Kingdom and the Middle East. After going viral, it caught the attention of Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis, who invited TamTam to perform at three different symposiums for See Jane, her non-profit organisation promoting gender-equality in media.

The positive and high-spirited singer’s third single, “We’ve Got Wings,” was released in late 2015. Inspired by her aunt, a breast cancer survivor, it’s about not giving up hope and beating the disease. The song even helped promote a non-profit Saudi Breast Cancer awareness organisation founded by Princess Reema bint Bandar. By 2017, TamTam who has performed at the Bridges of Understanding gala in New York honouring Lebanese fashion icon Reem Acra, had also released her EP “Identify Myself.” It is laced with lyrics that encourage us to recognise ourselves as human beings first. The following year, her defiant single “Rise,” which strikingly explores patriarchal traditions in the Kingdom and women’s resilience, was released. The music video, directed by Saudi director Meshal Al Jaser, garnered over 1 million Youtube views. Then in 2019, the singer, who is yet to record work in her mother tongue, released her EP “Rough Around the Edges,” which is dedicated to independent artists, and looks at vulnerability and accepting imperfections. 

Some of TamTam’s other memorable singles include “Drive,” an anthem to Saudi women’s right to drive, and “One Earth,” which she performed at the Global Goals World Cup in New York City. 

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