Shady Sheha is indeed Egypt’s Jack of all Trades, but this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s master of none. Shady’s crooning country voice has gotten him all the way to the finals on Germany’s The Voice! Shady lived his childhood between Cairo and Vienna. He studied in German Schools and moved on to graduate from Alsun College. Although greatly talented, he has done many other than his work as an artist. Shady worked as a tour leader before and now works in marketing and translating.
After joining Alsun, Shady began his first job in Hurghada. He sang in a Four Stars hotel, “I made a lot of money for an 18 year old”, he says, “I did this for two years then I got bored”.
Fortunately, at that point he received an offer to work as a tour leader. His fluency in Arabic, English, German, and French made him a strong candidate. Still, it also meant he worked harder than most. After 3 years and lots of promotions, it was time for Shady to move on again. That’s when he met his former boss by pure chance and was offered a job in Frankfurt.
Shady has done all those things, but his true passion lies in music, “if I had the choice I would only sing and do nothing else, but bills have to be paid”, he tells.
In this day and age, it seems a lot easier to get exposure for your talent thanks to the Internet. However, it can be a double-edged sword, “anyone could record something and put it up online and get 7 million clicks. It’s really hard to make it as an artist when there are so many out there”, he says. Still, if done right, YouTube can help, “it doesn’t come without help. You have to be really skilled online, and you need a good camera and lighting. As well as a huge social network”, he concludes.
Competition differences don’t only exist in talent shows. The independent music scene in Egypt is said to be easier than that of Europe and the US. Shady agrees, “it’s more competitive because there are so many who do the same thing. Here in Egypt there are new directions and bands like Cairokee and West El Balad”, he says, “in Germany and Europe it’s all pop music. You’re one out of 3,000”.
Although he admits it is easier to make it in Egypt, Shady insists he can’t compete here, “I don’t belong into the competition here because if you really want to make it in Egypt you have to sing in Arabic”, he tells, “or be like Screwdriver, Crash Boom Bang or Riff Band, who have their own thing, but if you want to become a star you have to sing in Arabic, and I don’t know how to do that”.
Despite that, Shady does keep up with the independent music scene, and has plenty of friends in it, “I’m really happy that this is happening, and that there are people who accept it and are following those bands”.
Even though Shady didn’t win, we’re certain The Voice is only the beginning for his musical career. Shady confirmed that it did get him attention, “I didn’t get any direct offers. The most promising thing from my point of view is this lady who kept commenting on my videos in English, and I found out she’s a famous country singer”, he tells, “she asked me to upload videos on YouTube and said she would show them to the right people in Nashville”.
every single thing I did has taught me a lot
Singing country and wanting to perform in Nashville isn’t exactly an Egyptian, or German, dream! The genre isn’t very popular in both countries. Shady’s passion for country started since he was a kid, “I’d just come back from Austria and it was late 1990 during the Gulf War. I was in Hurghada, and there was a US Navy warship there”, he tells, “my aunt’s husband was singing there. And once I went on stage and sang Ache-y, Break-y Heart. So, one of the officers gave me a Garth Brooks double CD. I heard it and got gooseflesh”, he says. This was how Shady was introduced to the genre.
Now, we had to wonder if he plans on bringing his talent – and passion for country music – to a Middle Eastern talent show, “I don’t think so, because even if I make it in the first stages, eventually they’ll ask me to sing in Arabic which I can’t do”, he explains.
We had to remind Shady that he does have his fair share of skills, even if they don’t involve singing in Arabic. And he did have something to say about being a Jack of all trades, “the rest of the phrase says ‘master of none’”, he comments, “but I did do different things. Sometimes you’re forced to do something else if what was doing wasn’t working for you, if it was boring or if you weren’t making enough money”, he elaborates.
At the end of the day, each experience counts, “every single thing I did has taught me a lot”, he says, “I don’t think I’d be the man that I am now if I hadn’t done all those different things”, he concludes.