Published on February 27th, 2022 | by MuzikScribe


Sha’Leah Nikole: Sweet Songbird



Tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Sha’Leah Nikole?

Music was a part of me before I was even born. My grandfather sang in a quartet, my mom and my uncles sang in church, so it was always around. When I was a kid, my dad would play records on his record player. I remember Saturday mornings hearing anything from Prince to George Clinton and the Parliament to Walter Hawkins or Chaka Khan. So, it was being poured into me from the beginning. When I was 9 years old, my mother put my brother and I into AGC [Amazing Grace Conservatory], a theatrical training institute. It was there that my love for music and arts was cultivated. That’s where it began, I didn’t imagine it would bring me where I am now, but that is where it started.

Now you’re a native of South Central Los Angeles, correct? So growing up in the ‘City of Angels,’ who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?   

I am! Los Angeles is a hub for all kinds of music, and growing up I listened to all types of stuff. As an R&B singer from L.A., I was always super inspired by Brandy. Not only does she have one of the best voices in R&B, she paved the way for young girls everywhere. I mean Moesha, Cinderella, she is definitely a huge inspiration to me! Kendrick Lamar is also a huge inspiration. He is one of my favorite entertainers. His lyrical content and creative approach to telling his story is next level. Raphael Saadiq isn’t from Los Angeles, but he is from CA! He is another inspiration of mine. I could keep going, but I’ll just stop there.

That said, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style? 

My sound is a mashup of styles and artists that I loved and listened to growing up. I love the harmonies from Brandy’s music, the passion for people and uplifting of the culture from Lauryn Hill’s music, the spirit and faith of India.Arie’s music. Mix that with my sweet yet powerful tone, and you get Sha’Leah Nikole Music.

Now your latest single is entitled “King Me,” featuring D Smoke (out March 4th) — Tell me about this particular track? How did it even come to fruition?

King Me is about recognizing the power that lives within. It’s about recognizing who you are and whose you are and not accepting anything less than you deserve. I got to work with Grammy-nominated producer Seige Monstracity {one of my favorites!}, and when I heard the track I was like, “ohh, yeah, this is fire!!” I wrote the song in a matter of hours, and recorded it. When It was finished I thought it would be dope to feature a male perspective, so I reached out to my friend, D Smoke, and asked him if he would get on the record. I sent it to him, he said the song was dope, and the rest is history (in the making).

“King Me” comes courtesy of your upcoming Work of heART EP — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?

The definition of art is the expression of human creative skills and imagination. When I think of art, I think of creating a space where beauty and emotion collide. With this project, I have teamed up with some amazing producers and artists to do just that. There is beauty in sharing your emotions, sharing your heart. Work of heART is not only my personal work of art, but also an expression of the journey of emotions I have experienced over the past few years. My heart in song form. It’s special, it means a lot to me.

How then does Work of heART either differ and / or compare to that of your debut?

My last EP was released in 2017, which was 5 years ago. So much life has been lived in the past 5 years. So it will be different because I have experienced new things, I have grown as a woman, an artist and a songwriter. I think people will compare the vibe of this new project to my last one because it is still honest and has my signature sound.

From a songwriting standpoint, when you sit down to pen your lyrics where do you draw inspiration from? 

I draw inspiration from my real-life experiences. My music is somewhat therapeutic for me. I write what I am going through or what I have gone through. I draw inspiration from the world around me. People, family members, culture. The music or the tracks also inspire what I write. The way the track makes me feel, or what it reminds me of when I hear it, that all inspires the lyrics that I write.

Switching gears here…

Longevity, what do you feel it is that will continue to sustain you in music? 

I think my ability to be versatile will sustain my music. While I will always write my own music as an artist, I use my voice in many ways and that keeps me growing as an artist. Whether I am doing a musical, singing in a choir, learning classical music, or doing voiceovers I will use everything that I learn from these experiences and pour those skills into my music in some way. 9. What do you want people to get from your music? I want people to be inspired and encouraged. I want them to hear my music and connect with the lyrics and the stories. I want people to feel better and more confident after they listen to my music.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B? 

I think there is so much good R&B out there that people haven’t tapped into yet. Some of my favorite R&B is from friends and peers of mine. I have friends who are finally gaining recognition and respect in mainstream R&B; like Alex Isley and Kenyon Dixon. Seeing them soar gives me hope and makes me excited for the possibilities. There is a lot of R&B that I am not a fan of, but I think that is going to always be the case. Instead of dwelling on what’s wack about R&B, I continue to listen to my amazing friends and make my contribution to R&B by releasing more quality music.

Do you have any other outside / additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music? 

I definitely do. I began my journey with arts in the theatre. Theatre is a love of mine, and I will be on Broadway one day! Mark my words. I did my first film last year Remember Me, the story of Mahalia Jackson. I play Mahalia Jackson as a teen and young woman, and Ledisi plays her as an adult. I would love to do more film and even TV. I love working with youth, so I aspire to create programs that build the confidence and awareness in young people.

To date, what has been your greatest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?

Thus far, hmm…I would say playing Eden in the production of Witness Uganda at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. This show stretched me as an artist. I learned so much throughout the rehearsal process, and I gained so much confidence as an artist as well. The story was an inspiring wakeup call, and getting to share it night after night, 8 times a week to be exact, was a joy! So many amazing actors I look up to came to see this show; from Angela Bassett to Kerry Washington to Leslie Odom Jr., and they so graciously poured into me. It was the confirmation I needed to keep going, and to put in the work because it will pay off.

You also have your non-profit My FootPrints LA — What are your future goals and / or plans for the foundation?

I plan on doing more service events for the community. Our first event was in January. We provided about 100 men and women on Skid Row with toiletry items and blankets. It was such a blessing to see the smiles on their faces. I also want to do more mentorship with youth. I hosted a program with the youth at a middle school – before the pandemic – and I would love to get back into schools and host workshops and events that inspire and motivate young people.

In addition, you had the privilege of touring around the world as a member of Kanye West’s Sunday Service Collective — What exactly was that experience like for you?

It was incredible! Traveling the world with one of the most iconic artists of our time; sharing the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ is a feeling like no other. It’s definitely an experience that I will always hold close to my heart. Anytime you get to work with a creative of that magnitude, you must pay attention and soak up everything you can. I’ve been blessed to be (a) student and watch Kanye, Beyoncé and even Nipsey Hussle work firsthand. I don’t take those lessons for granted. But back to the question, Ye was absolutely amazing and treated us very well. My favorite part was being on the stage with people who became my family and singing and dancing our hearts out. The energy was next level, and you couldn’t help but feel the presence of God if you were in the room.

One track of yours that you think defines you and why?

At this moment in my life, I would say “King Me.” It is bold, confident and unapologetic. That’s where I am right now!

Lastly, what’s next for Sha’Leah Nikole?

There is so much in store! Up first is the new music, visuals, live performances. I am putting together a special experience for the release of the EP. I am very excited about that. You will definitely hear and see a lot more of me this year, whether it be through my music and visuals, or theatre or film and TV.

Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?

Nah, you did a pretty good job! You know what you’re doing over there.

Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers? 

Please take a moment to listen to a fresh new voice and perspective in R&B music. I appreciate and thank everyone who takes the time to listen. Remember who you are, you come from Royalty, never forget that.



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