DUBAI: British singer Jade Thirlwall recently held a question-and-answer session with fans on her Instagram Stories, discussing a range of subjects from what books she read to how she explored her Arab identity.
The 29-year-old songstress’ maternal grandfather was Yemeni and maternal grandmother Egyptian.
During the Q and A, the Little Mix band member revealed that she would be practicing her Arabic on the girl group’s upcoming Confetti tour of the UK, set to kick off in April or May.
One fan asked her: “As a fellow mixed race Yemeni living in the UK, how have you explored your identity?”
Thirlwall said: “The more I explore and educate myself the more I feel at peace with myself and the more confidence I feel within myself, which has been and will continue to be a beautiful journey for me. I love cooking Yemeni food, discovering Yemeni artists and creatives, and I will be continuing to learn Arabic on tour.”
She wrote her response alongside a pile of black-and-white photographs of her grandparents and a form her grandfather, Mohammed Ahmed Saleh Badwi, filled out for his national insurance card in the 1950s.
The English songwriter previously showcased her Arabic-speaking skills in a video with the UN children’s fund, Unicef.
She revealed that she learned the language as a child and one of the phrases she could say was how to ask for a cup of tea.
She spoke with Somaya, from Yemen, the country her grandfather lived in before moving to the UK in 1943.
“I have really fond memories of my grandfather going to the mosque and cooking me Yemeni food and telling me all these stories about living in Yemen.
“You know, as I’ve got older, I feel like once my grandfather passed away when I was 13, I sort of lost a lot of my Yemeni identity because he was the main person in my life who would really champion my Yemeni heritage and encourage me to acknowledge it all the time,” Thirlwall added.
In an interview with Vogue Arabia in 2020, she explained how, when growing up, she was bullied into suppressing and being ashamed of her Arab heritage, something she regretted.
Thirlwall said she now wanted to do more to represent the Arab world, adding that her reluctance to embrace her roots had been due to lack of representation for her culture while growing up.
In addition to preparing for the upcoming tour, the “Woman Like Me” singer was reported to be signing a major solo deal with RCA as she looked ahead to her future after Little Mix, the band last year taking a break after 10 years.
Little Mix originally formed on “The X Factor” UK talent show in 2011, a contest the group went on to win.
Thirlwall joined alongside Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Perrie Edwards.
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