Last month I had the opportunity to interview some great indie artist all around the United States. One of these artist was Shenna. Shenna is a 20 year old Indie-R&b/Pop singer-songwriter, actress, and model from Woodbridge, VA. She released her first major project "Dream In Color" on May 20, 2014 produced by Austin Bello from the band Forever The Sickest Kids. She is currently writing for other artists, is a reference singer in the industry, and gives vocal and music theory lessons. Shenna is also a proud member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity and currently attends Berklee College's Music Business Program online.
Shenna discovered her talents at a young age but started performing in showcases at the age of 7. She has performed in front of thousands of people across the United States at places such as The Show Place Arena, Open mics such as The Inspired Word at Bareburger, Love at the Sound Stage, Tammany Hall and in other countries Syria and Korea. She has also received radio airplay and blog reviews in several countries. Shenna is currently working on her album which will be released this Fall.
How did it all start?
I have been singing my whole life literally. My mom has cassette recordings of me as a toddler singing “I’ve been working on the railroad”. I can’t remember my life without having this dream of pursuing a music career.
What are your Passions ?
I have a passion for helping others and giving back. With my songs, I feel super happy when others tell me my music helped them get through a certain obstacle in their life. I have always had a passion for acting, taking photographs of nature, and writing lyrics.
Any advice to musicians or artists?
My advice to musicians/ artist is to always remember why you are doing what you love in the first place. Do not ever forget to have fun. You can take your career seriously and still enjoy what your doing at the same time. Also, never let words defeat you from being great. Stay true to you.
What are your favorite things about music?
My favorite thing about music is that it is a way of life. I feel like every individual has their own soundtrack to life. Music can bring back memories and be there for you when no one else is. It’s crazy how much a song can change your mood.
When you are not making music what are you doing for fun?
When I am not making music, I love to volunteer my time and help others obtain their dreams and goals. I also love to shop online and watch documentaries! It’s funny though, because everything I do always ends up tying into my career. Whether I’m inspired to create something because of a documentary I watched or come up with career goals while helping others (laughs).
Who are your influences?
I am influenced by the people I meet on a daily basis. Most of the time when I write a song, I write while observing what is around me which influences the directions I take my songs. I’m also influenced by singer-songwriters such as Corinne Bailey Rae and Usher who I feel both share their life stories with the fans.
If you had the opportunity to start over, what would you differently and why?
Honestly, I feel that all the events leading up to now in my life have happened for a reason and I would not be the strong person I am today without those both good and bad events happening.
Tell me about your new projects and which direction you are heading.
I released my EP “Dream In Color” late May and released my music video to my single “Me Vs. You” at the end of July! I am currently recording new records in the studio and I am also in the works of releasing something huge but Im going to keep that on the "hush hush" for now (laughs).
What are some of your greatest challenges in your business?
I believe one of the greatest challenges in the music industry is knowing what audience you want to captivate with your songs. It’s easy to drift into only writing what you as an artist likes. As an artist you always have to remember to stay true to yourself but make music others would actually like to hear without pressing the “skip button” (laughs).
When have you been most satisfied in your life?
Within the past year I have seen myself blossom. I am so happy my fans and supporters have really been there for me, it truly means the world to me.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
Definitely releasing my first EP this year was my proudest moment. I had basically gone into hiding for 2 years while in college as a music major. I knew I had to come back strong and get back on my grind. I couldn’t have done it without all my supporters because they motivated me to keep pushing. I promised myself the day I released “Dream In Color” that I will never fall off again.
What's your superpower, or what's your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is definitely a lion which is also the animal for Leo, my zodiac sign. I think I am a lion because I know what I want at all times and make sure I have control over the situations I end up making. Plus lions have big manes and my hairs fluffy and takes over my face too (laughs).
What does your latest E.P mean to you? In what state where you when you where putting it together?
“Dream In Color” stresses the point that life is too short and to appreciate the small things and "Take Yo Time, Take Yo Time!" (laughs) When I first started planning out my EP, I was going to go down my typical R&B route but than I started thinking bigger than just one genre. I wanted to be able to incorporate multiple genres and tell a story with each song. The whole time while creating the EP, I felt like my life was being reinvented and that the old "go getter" Shenna was finally back after being away in college for 2 years.
When it comes to connecting with your fans, is there a platform that you prefer?
I feel connecting with your fans comes naturally. I love meeting new people in general and feel that if someone takes the time to even listen to my song or tell me how they feel about my music they deserve individual attention. No matter what I always make sure I say thank you to each and every person. Without supporters creating music wouldn’t be the same. I feed off the crowds energy.
Do you play an instrument and if so, which is your favorite song to play on it?
I dabble in piano and picked up guitar. I actually produce some of my own music such as the song “Stranger” from the EP. My good friend Reggie aka Mr.Perclivitive and myself created that instrumental together. I told myself once I save up for a nice quality keyboard I’m going to practice non-stop (laughs).
Is your family musical?
Both my Mom and Dad do not sing at all, but my cousins on my Dad’s side love to sing and dance to Arabic music. People do not know this but my grandmother on my moms side used to sing background for Little Richard. I guess you can say that’s where I get it from, even though I never got to meet her because she passed away before I was born. I heard she had a lovely voice with a heart to match.
Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
Oh yes! I collect records and grew up on cassette tapes. I used to sit in my room for hours seriously listening to Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” album!
Do you teach music?
I am a vocal instructor/theory teacher! I taught independently and at The School of Rock for a while before I moved to New York. One of my close students is actually going to Berklee College of Music for College this year! They grow up so fast *sniffle sniffle* (laughs).
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
When I went to Howard University I had to study the art of “scatting” which is improvisation singing. I have incorporated scatting into some of my performances when I forget words or I just make up my own on stage. I don't react while on the stage. I just practice harder for the next show.
In your own words, how would you describe"Music From The Heart"
I would describe “Music From The Heart” as showcasing a vulnerable part of you to the world. "Music From The Heart" is something you have a strong connection with that you are pouring out in music and letting your listeners hear the different stages of your story. I feel that that type of music is the greatest because it is "you" at the end of the day.
You can connect with Shenna via:
Link to EP: