Rania Shaalan – On the Rise

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Rania Shaalan is the lead singer of a band, writes and composes most of her songs. With a unique simplicity she mesmerizes her audiences. Her lyrics are inspired and stem from the infamous Salah Jaheen’s “Rubeyat” and poet Ahmed Fouad Negm. Rania has been making music since her early childhood and is a graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts. She combines sculpturing and music excelling in both. Rania finds ultimate pleasure in singing to people, where she feels directly connected with them, being totally herself. Her singing teacher once told her, that when she sings it is as if a child is singing; very pure and totally from the heart.


Tell us how you started your career?

My career started to seriously take form and shape after I went through a lot of experiences in life, through which I found out what I really am and who I want to be. In 1995 Dr. Tarek Sharara heard me in a family gathering, sing and play my guitar, he decided instantly to host me in his program "Play on", FM radio station. At the time I thought it was a special experience, but did not really know what was to be done next. I was in my last years in college, studying fine arts majoring in sculpture. So, I had passion for the two things Music and Sculpture. I drifted away for some time. Then in 1997 I saw Fathy Salama perform, after which went to introduce myself to him asking him to hear me, so that I might get to sing with him as a feature in any of his concerts. He welcomed the idea, but I didn't hear from him for quite some time, then surprisingly he did call me and I went for the audition. In the same year I appeared as a guest with him in the small theater of the Cairo Opera House. I sang a song which I had written about Egypt, while he played his keyboards. I will never forget this day because I was shaking as if I were in Chicago in December! Singing with Fathy Salama was quite a challenge for me, for every time I asked to sing again with him, he would ask something different to be done in my music and songs, which caused me to work harder. I appeared with other bands and musicians. Until the day came in 2003 when I felt like a prisoner, having to wait for the "Yes you may sing in the next concert", as sometimes it was not possible to do so. Then, I decided to have my own set of songs and decided to perform alone. Simultaneously, I was working on my statues, without much of a target. In 1997 I was invited by Marmara University in Istanbul for an international art exhibition. In 2003 I participated in the Youth Salon of Arts as well as the Aswan International Symposium, which is lead by the wonderful sculptor Adam Henein. I spent two months in Aswan working everyday on a granite piece, which was an amazing experience for me. I learned through it that one can conquer his weaknesses if he decides to, as granite is a very difficult stone to deal with. End of March 2008 is the opening of an exhibition of the Festival of Creative Arts in the Egyptian Museum of Modern Arts, one of my statues is participating among other pieces of art. It was always tempting for me in my concerts to display my small statues around the stage as I sing and play my instruments, so that I can show people the other side of me, too, but was always too reluctant and shy.  Friday 7th March, will be my next concert at the Gomhouriya Theater, this theater is special to me as when I used to attend concerts there, I always whished to be up there one day singing.


What's your favorite music style?

Classical music is usually my first choice, as it allows one's imagination to expand and wander about. My favorite composers are many, some of them are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albinoni, Shubert, Chopin, Vivaldi, John Lennon, Sayed Darweesh, Kamal El    Taweel, El Sheikh Imam and others. I am very fond of Fouad Abdel Megeed, Abdel Haleem Hafez, Sting, Eric Clapton, Natalie Cole, Charles Aznavour, Phil Collins, Dalida, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Abba, Pink Floyd, Fayrouz, Angham, Sade, Vaya Con Dios, Air Supply an Egyptian Band in the 80's named "Al AsdiKaa", Jack Johnson, Ragaa Bilimlayh, Cindy Lauper, The Judds, James Taylor and many others, I don't think it ends!     

Do you write your own songs/music?

I do write my own songs as well as compose them and sometimes I use other writers' lyrics.

What/who inspires you?

In general situations, incidents, inner feelings that are unable to be expressed in a general conversation inspire me.


Who are your role models?

Waleed Shaalan (My brother and friend), Heba (my mother) and Mohammed Shaalan (my father).

What do you think about the current music scene for new coming musicians?

It is booming and we musicians are getting more opportunities to be heard and seen by different people. 

What has changed in the music scene since places like Sakia El Sawi for example?

It serves as a window for artists and musicians. 

Is it easy for women to survive in the music industry?

I believe it is not easy for women as much as it is for men.

You are very unique and non-commercial, is it difficult to maintain that?

This is a very intelligent question, and also not easy to answer. I am maintaining myself without much difficulty, however, I am wondering why I am not commercial, is it because I am as you said unique? Does this mean that unique equals non-commercial? If yes is the answer then I would rather not be unique.

What's your advice for struggling new comers?

My general advice is if anyone has passion for something is to do what it takes to make it grow. To keep carving the talent until it takes the shape and form that would make the person proud of it, then to share it with others. Don't stop and keep going. Don't let anything put you down. Don't let anything slow you down

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