Klein student ‘Zhariah’ promotes individuality through music

Jade Yates, whose stage name is Zhariah, released her first single last August.

Junior media and studies production Jade Yates is an alternative singer-songwriter, who goes by her middle name, "Zharia". | COURTESY / ERIC OCKIMEY

From performing at a crowded Student Center to taking the stage at a sold-out Fillmore near Washington, D.C., Zhariah hopes to be the idol she wished she had growing up. 

“I just wanted an artist who looked like me,” Zhariah said. “Being alternative and Black is really hard.”

Jade Yates, who uses her middle name Zhariah as her stage name, is a junior media studies and production major beginning a career as a singer-songwriter. 

Zhariah released her debut single, “Yass Siss” last August and performed at the Mic Drop talent show hosted by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Shangela at the Student Center last November. 

Zhariah transferred to Temple University from Lincoln University in Fall 2018. 

“It was my first time performing at Temple,” Zhariah said. “Part of me knew the crowd will be more accepting, but I didn’t expect them to be in the crowd singing along.”

In addition to her success on Main Campus, Zhariah opened for rapper CupcakKe’s show in December at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, a venue the Washington, D.C. native used to attend regularly.

Aliyah Kimmey, a freshman journalism major, attended Zhariah’s performance at the Student Center and was intrigued by her unusual sound. Zhariah incorporates a variety of different styles in her music, including rock, pop and hip-hop. 

“When she was performing, she brought something to the crowd that uplifted them,” Kimmey said. “I like how she’s mixing punk and hip-hop. It makes her unique, and I appreciate that.”

As her music career begins to take off, Zhariah plans to release an EP titled “House of Zhariah” and hopes to collaborate with other female rappers like Rico Nasty. 

On top of not conforming to traditional music genres, Zhariah curated her own “weird glam” fashion sense through a mixture of gothic and alternative styles with lots of glitter.

“It’s everything that’s different and all types of weird but glamorous, every person or group of people that have been shunned, seen as weird or a freak,” Zhariah said. “The ability to be yourself is glamorous, and that’s what my music is.” 

Zhariah said Lady Gaga’s 2009 MTV Video Music Awards performance of “Paparazzi” inspired her to become a musician and creative director. Her other influences are Kurt Cobain and Tyler, The Creator, who motivated her to create her own style of music, think creatively and be herself, Zhariah said.

“When I see my dreams, I think, ‘What would 15-year-old Zhariah want? What would she want her idol to say or do at this time?’” Zhariah said. “I’m being the person I wish I had. It makes me proud thinking about how far I’ve come.”

Stephanie Dalce, a 2015 English alumna, discovered Zhariah during one of her performances at Creep Records on Hancock Street near Germantown Avenue in Northern Liberties and became the artist’s manager in December. 

Zhariah’s performance was “like a firestorm” and unlike anything she’d seen before, Dalce said.

“It made me empowered in a space I hadn’t recognized before,” Dalce added. “She is very versatile, and her aesthetic varies like you would not believe. Sometimes goth, sometimes beauty queen, always super cute.”

Zhariah hopes her fans feel similarly empowered by her music. 

“I want you to be badder and better than the person you were before society told you to grow up or called you weird,” she said. “I want listeners to feel joyous and free, free enough that you can stand on a table and stand up to people who are intimidating you.” 

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