Listening to Sabriel’s sophisticated, soulful voice, it’s strange to think she spent her Las Vegas Academy days majoring in dance. Blame Simon Cowell. “I watched a lot of American Idol as a kid, and I think that scared the crap out of me,” she says. “I’d always secretly wished I could sing, but I wasn’t confident.”
That’s changed, clearly. The Vegas native’s Life Is Beautiful set last October had a flighty festival crowd on lockdown, as Sabriel mixed original material and covers—one by the woman her stylized singing most recalls, Erykah Badu—at the head of a veteran band anchored by members of local crew Rhyme N Rhythm. And she’d just turned 19 one month earlier.
Before she officially bids goodbye to her teenage years this September, Sabriel (pronounced “Shaw-briel”) hopes to record a debut album and begin broadening her audience to include more fans in her age range. “One of my biggest pet peeves about Las Vegas is that there’s really nowhere for young musicians to play … and no young people can accidentally hear me sing,” she says. Sabriel sees the Internet as a potential solution, and on New Year’s Day, she released a new, live video for her song “Fifth” on YouTube.
And if young fans don’t flock to her work on the web, might she reconsider her feelings about Idol and take the reality-show plunge? “I’d rather put in the work,” she says. “But if that takes me nowhere, maybe …”