Siilawy: The reluctant singer selling out concerts

Singer and songwriter Hossam Al-Siilawy is pictured at his most recent concert, on September 24, 2021, in Amman. (Photo: Handout from Hossam Al-Siilawy)
AMMAN — With his beautiful voice, peaceful music, and meaningful lyrics, 20-year-old Jordanian singer and songwriter Hossam Al-Siilawy has managed to garner 100,000 subscribers, and about 12 million views on his YouTube channel, all in about a year.اضافة اعلان

The young singer — who goes by his last name, Siilawy — started singing and uploading his songs about a year ago when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The musician said that he never planned on singing and it all “happened by coincidence.” 

“I remember I was with friends at a place where everyone was singing, and I got excited and sang some lyrics I wrote for Palestine, a friend of mine took a video and uploaded it to Tiktok; it went viral and after I read people’s reactions I wanted to write lyrics and sing more,” he said. 

It helped that the artist has always loved writing; he said he confided in writing as a way to express his emotions and thoughts, “when I am in a dark place, I do not know how to share my thoughts with anyone; I guess it is kind of a cliché but for real, my music is my way to vent,” he told Jordan News in an interview. 

According to the artist, sometimes his songs can be very “personal and bold,” because of the details he shares about his personal life, family, and even relationships. “I have a song about my mom, who left me when I was an infant, basically people were surprised when they heard it because of how personal it is,” he explained.  

“That song, ‘leish trouhi,’ (why did you leave in Arabic) is now deleted from my YouTube channel, I did not want people to pity me when they heard it, however you can still find it on SoundCloud,” Siilawy said.

The artist’s other song about one of his parents, “Yaba,” (dad in Arabic) tells the other side of his familial relationship. “My father did not know I sang until he heard that song, he supports what I do, especially since now he sees how much people love my songs,” he said. 

Despite this, Siilawy is critical of his own work, and said that he does “not like them because they remind me of hard times, it’s because I usually write lyrics when I am feeling down.”

A song called “Leali,” (night in Arabic) proved especially hard for the artist to film and produce a music video for; however, the song became a hit on YouTube.

“The funny part is even though I did not like the song, one of its lines went viral literally everywhere, it has more than 3 million views on YouTube now,” Siilawy said. “Famous people and influencers sang along to it on TikTok, and people started listening to my songs after it, I even have the line on merchandise in cooperation with Kees.” 

“Amer Al-Haj, the owner of Kees, is one of the few people who has supported me since the beginning, he approached me with the idea to put my lyrics on merchandise, I am very grateful to Kees.” 

Another song to gain traction, “Wenak” (where are you in Arabic), has gained more than 2.5 million views on YouTube.

“It is a song about love and by far it is my favorite because of how light and delightful it is; it has its own vibe, in addition to the fact that when this song went viral on TikTok, more people started looking me up, so they can listen to my other songs,” Siilawy said.

Despite the success, the singer said that he thought about quitting earlier this year because of the stress and expectations that come with putting out music. He even released a farewell song, “but before quitting I wanted to try performing live; it was the one thing I haven’t done yet and I wanted to live and enjoy the experience,” he said. 

That is when he announced his first concert, and the tickets sold out in three days. “I did not see that coming at all,” he said. 

“Once I stepped foot on stage and saw the audience’s reactions, I completely forgot about the idea of quitting, I saw some of them cry, a lot of them came up to me to say hi; it was all so surreal, and I felt motivated to continue.” 

The singer also performed at another concert last month, alongside Jordanian rappers Bilal Shabib, Karam Shrideh, Saleh Zamel, and musicians Ahmad Alawar and Zaidoon. 

The artist said that his goal is to leave an impact on his listeners. “Hopefully a long time from now, people will still remember my songs, I want my name to be remembered,” Siilawy said.

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