Sayed Sabrina is a singer, a mother, a survivor, and a self-described supernatural songstress who is using her voice in more ways than one.
Although she has made a name for herself internationally through her soulful, powerful vocals — think Shakira meets Janice Joplin — it is the message behind her music that really makes an impact.
Sayed Sabrina’s latest album, Thou Art That, was released in August 2019 and represents a culmination of her journey to self-empowerment, persevering, and staying positive in the midst of adversity.
The album also expresses Sayed’s no-holds barred approach to music (and life) — she played piano on all tracks, composed the music and lyrics on every song, and produced the entire album.
That’s not to say she didn’t have some help. The line-up on Thou Art That features an impressive list of musicians including Bobby Watson, Sarah Morrow (Dr. John, Ray Charles), Gary Herbig (Elvis, Tower of Power), Carlos De La Paz (Cid, Mandrels), Mitch Manker (Ray Charles), and Bryan Head (Dick Dale, Roger Hodgson).
So how did this woman who once lived on the streets get to where she is today?
Homegirl Talk caught up with Sayed Sabrina to talk about the power of music, her struggles to overcome painful experiences, and what she has to say to other women who might be facing serious challenges.
Hi Sayed. Tell us about the reasons why you sing. When did you first realize you could sing and what has that journey been like?
I sing because I am supposed to. I know that I have been given the gift of a voice that can carry a tune. As long as I can remember, I have been singing.
I sang to get my words out when I was very young and learning how to speak — I stuttered my words and that was debilitating.
I was so shy and embarrassed about how I sounded, and not being able to say things properly. When I sang it all went away and I could say anything as long as I was using my singing voice.
I see colors when I sing and hear music. I feel closer to whom I am meant to be when I sing. My higher self — it fills my soul to share my voice and uplift others.
What do you want to achieve with your singing?
I am blessed to have the ability to write the music I have in my heart and to put it out into the world. Therefore, I choose to be a force of love and happiness with a touch of enlightenment. I believe in kindness and hope I exhibit that with my music.
You’ve had some serious struggles growing up, particularly during adolescence. How did you get through those tough times?
My father passed away right before my 13th birthday, and because my mother had some personal and mental issues, I was no longer welcomed.
I found solace in the punk rock music scene, with its powerful political views and camaraderie.
I lived on the streets of Hollywood spending my days panhandling, stealing food from the grocery store, and going to as many punk rock shows as I could.
I wound up in juvenile hall (a few times) and eventually a group home. Off and on I would return home only to have to fight for my right to be welcomed. I was unwanted and unloved and completely confused as to why. I only ever wanted to sing.
Through all of my life experiences, all I ever dreamed about was to sing —even if that meant only to keep myself company when I felt so alone. That is how my songwriting came about. It was a form of me working through my shit.
How have you used the painful experiences you’ve had for something positive?
I hope that through the years of making music that my recordings and live performances have given back some of what music has given me.
I am grateful for my life experiences. They have always only been lessons and reminders for me to stay the path. We all have the power of choice. Free consciousness to think as we please.
Even in the darkest of emotional discomfort we can choose to forgive and be kind. We all make mistakes. Ignorance is not a personality flaw. Your thoughts really do create your reality.
What has been your spiritual journey both personally and professionally?
My spiritual journey has been a life lesson of acceptance and understanding.
I was born into a life with a non-practicing Catholic mother and a Muslim father. I was lucky my brain is wired differently. I retained some of my birth knowledge — I know this sounds weird but …. Mostly I am on a constant quest for knowledge about the ancients and philosophies and the sciences.
I read different religious, metaphysical, and mystical writings and how those teachings can be used in understanding today’s world.
I don’t know much, but what I do know is that spiritual awareness or not, we are reflections of each other. We are all that which we already are.
We are all spiritual beings simply having a human experience. In my life I live this experience and in my music I express it.
Like so many other women, you are a working mom. How do you balance motherhood and career?
Music comes easily to me whereas motherhood I take much more seriously. Honesty and communication is important — and difficult.
Children are the most aware of us humans. They know when they’re being lied to. Children need to know they’re loved unconditionally and respected so that they can develop into aware adults that make good decisions.
I was a homeless single mother of a newborn for a short period of time. I know what it’s like to fight to survive. I know what it’s like to be hungry. I am successful because of my children. They are my reason for everything I do in this life. They are my biggest cheerleaders.
I’ve made many mistakes and have failed. I take those experiences, bless them, and keep going — each time learning a little more and doing a little better. Motherhood is the craziest, most fulfilling experience ever.
You were shy, insecure, and even a homeless mother to a newborn at one point. How did you become empowered? Where did that inner strength come from?
I became empowered as a woman when I came to the realization that I am my child’s role model.
It was empowering because it felt powerful to tell my daughter things like, “Let them tell you you’re bossy but don’t believe them when they say it’s a bad thing. To be a girl who is labeled ‘bossy’ is a girl that is a natural-born leader and world changer.”
As women, we are like mother Gaia, our planet. We birth, create, and give of ourselves. We have been treated unfairly and with unkindness at times in our history of womanhood.
We are mighty and powerful and the winds of change are upon us. Like the earth needs to heal her oceans and heal her lands by the human inhabitants learning to change old behaviors.
We need to heal our hearts and accept each other without learned behavior that has for centuries taught us to judge our sisters and helped to keep us down.
In other words, it’s time we females acknowledge each other in more positive ways than how we have in the past.
We are powerful beings, us ladies, and now is the time to reclaim our place of leadership and channel our ancient grandmothers voices to help heal earth and each other.
Would you mind sharing more about your mind-over body ideas and philosophies?
I believe whole-heartedly that our thoughts manifest reality. I am living proof of that. I have overcome great obstacles both physically and mentally. Belief in things becomes reality.
Look at all the negative and false realities some people live daily. They believe they’ve been handed a rotten deal somehow yet cannot accept that they had some role in it. It’s believed to be manifested by some outside force, when all along it was their negative reality.
Being positive and optimistic doesn’t mean the outcome will be different — it means that the experience will be different.
I’d rather be happy and broke then pissed off and broke. When you’re smiling in the face of fear it has no power over you.
What sort of role do you think food and physical health plays in empowerment?
I use food as medicine and sometimes like a bad habit. I use food to heal my aches and pains and for nourishment. I have a few food allergies and can do great harm by eating certain items. I’ll do it on occasion anyway and am still learning how to be kinder to myself with that.
It is empowering to have eaten a healthy meal and continue through the day feeling good physically. I love to walk. I love to eat. I love the feeling of healthy skin and not having tummy trouble! Each day I tell myself, ”You got this stuff, dude” and some days I have to forgive myself and continue on the path.
What are five things that are priorities for you as a woman, mother, singer, wife, and spiritual being?
Five things that are important to me in this life are being good to my family, learning about my humaneness, awareness of others, being kind, and listening.
What techniques would you like to share that have helped you become a stronger and happier woman?
I think the techniques I could teach other women that might help them to be stronger would be something along the lines of being kinder to yourself.
Erase those old damaging beliefs continuously running through your head that aren’t the truth of who you are. That goes for any person.
I continue to battle demons that like to hang around my person. I face those demons head on and don’t always win, but I do not ever give up.
It’s a daily routine of mine to start my day off with meditation. I end my day with at least three things I am grateful for that occurred that day. I feel it’s been helpful and has given me some clarity and strength.
Things in my life changed rapidly when I made those simple adjustments.