Shontelle: Music Professional

Parents try to shield their children from making bad decisions but when a child has a dream they momentarily heed their parent’s advice before continuing to strive for the dream. SRC Bajan talent Shontelle created a master plan, taking what was going to lead her into the music business as an executive or artist to reach her ambitious goal. Thus far in her career Shontelle has been featured on Barack Obama’s sampler ‘Yes We Can: Voices of Movement,’ wrote Alison Hinds’ 2006 hit “Roll It Gal” and is a step closer in her dream to stardom with her current single “T-Shirt.” Besides Rihanna, Shontelle is the second singer from Barbados to have a hit song, on a world renowned record label …learn more about Shontelle.

Singersroom: So, you went from law school, which is a different mindset, to becoming an artist?

Shontelle: Growing up as a child I always wanted to be in music. I always wanted to be a singer. I always wanted to be a songwriter. But my parents growing up in Barbados were old fashion and they weren’t really having it. They were like “music, that is not a real career, it is a very fickle industry, you need something more solid.” They always encouraged me to go to school. So I had a master plan, I was gonna try to juggle both while I was in school. While in school, I was gonna try to write songs and sing but I decided to study abroad because at least that way I could do entertainment law. That means I would still be able to be in the industry one way or the other. I knew that was where I wanted to be.

Singersroom: Your master plan was like sneaking out to meet a boyfriend in high school.

Shontelle: Exactly. The thing is I used to be sneaking out the house to go to the studio. I used to lie to my mom saying I am going to a friend’s house or I’m just going to a party and I would be in the studio.

Singersroom: Usually you hear new artist having trouble with business contracts, which lead to troubles like the infamous TLC bankruptcy. Does having the entertainment background help your business IQ?

Shontelle: It really helped. Two maybe three things that really helped were my parents. [They] are business people in Barbados; they always taught us to be business minded. When my manager Sonia Mullins, from Barbados, started working with me, she realize that most new artist like you said get really excited and you can be swindled really easily. She always use to pull me back and guide me and make sure I understood the administrative aspect of music and not just all the glitz and glamour of it. She would always make me focus, paying attention to certain clauses in contracts and teaching me tricky things people say. And then from studying that in school, it compounded everything. I’m so aware of these things, so it definitely helps.

Singersroom: As soon I read your biography it talks about how you and Rihanna were in the same cadet school and you are both from Barbados. What differentiate you from Rihanna?

Shontelle: Ri and I are supportive of each other [and] huge fans of each others music. We really get along but we are such different artist. Her style and vocal styling are so different and our music is very different…We know that as soon people hear our music y’all kind of see the difference immediately. The one thing that separates me from a lot of artist is that I bring a lot more of my West Indian background to my music. Not only are there songs sung to Reggae tracks I did collaboration with Reggae artist like Collie Buddz, Sizzla and Beenie Man. I would most compare myself to someone like Wyclef. He can really flip it or somebody like Lauryn Hill where they know how to flip it. They can sing but they can rap at the same time and then Wyclef is so versatile he can rap, he can do the more West Indian dancehall style singing or chanting as we call it; and then he can also rap and sing. I am very edgy in that way.

Singersroom: So are you about to start rapping?

Shontelle: (laugh) If the song calls for it, I will do it.

Singersroom: Your first single “T-Shirt” sounds like something you wrote as you were remembering the beginning of your relationship in college with your boyfriend.

Bajan singer ShontelleShontelle: (laugh) “T-Shirt} [is a song] every girl can relate to it. It’s such a girl anthem because every girl can tell [you] about it, and it almost doesn’t matter how old they are. They can all tell you about some experience when they were missing their boyfriend or husband or whoever the guy in their life is. We all know what it feels like to still want to feel close to the person even though there not there.

“I would say the t-shirt is the best thing to have because you can cuddle up with it and pretend it’s them or wear it. It will usually smell like the person so then you feel much closer to them. That is why I had to do that song.”

Singersroom: Pillows capture the same smells.

Shontelle: Yea, but it is kind of hard to take somebody’s pillow. (laugh) The funny thing is a lot guys, which I didn’t expect, would come up to me saying “Oh my gosh I love ‘T-Shirt'” and when I say why? They say “Because it’s such an ego booster.” The guys feel so good because a girl wears their shirt; that makes them feel really good. I didn’t even think about that when I was doing it, I was doing it for the girls but then I realized guys can relate to it too.

Singersroom: Your song “Battle Cry” was featured on Obama’s ‘Yes We Can: Voices of Movement’ sampler, how did that feel?

Shontelle: Being on the Obama compilation is incredible for me in a number of ways, first of all I get to be on a compilation with some of my favorite artist and living legends like Stevie Wonder, the Winans and people like that. Then there artist like Kanye [West] and Adam Levine that I love so much and I get to be on an album with them. But then what is even cooler to me is that I’m not even America, I can’t vote. I still get to be a part of one of the most historical political events of all time in America. I’m really glad that my song “Battle Cry” is on that compilation because to me the state of affairs right now calls for songs like that. The economy is in a mess, there are all these wars going on and general speaking for all over the world there is horrible air of depression. People are so sad and depressed and you kind of need a song like “Battle Cry” to just unite people and give them some sort of hope. That is what that song is all about, so I’m really glad that song is on there because I think it is an excellent forum to spread that song.

Singersroom: What is the full concept on your album ‘SHONTELLIGENCE’?

Shontelle: I did most of the writing on it so it is definitely a lot of personal experiences; it is almost like a sneak peek into my life. If you listen to songs like “Life Is Not An Easy Road,” that song [it describe where I come from]. I come from the Barbados and [the] first song is done to a Reggae track done by Black Chiney. I woke up in the middle of the night, it was 2a.m. and that song was in my head. It was really bothering me. So I called a friend of mine who is a producer and begged them to open up the studio [so]I can come over. The song is really just about all the poverty and stuff that I see being in that environment. It felt like every time I turn on the TV it was a lot of violence and depression, so I felt it was necessary to write songs like that to motivate and encourage people to overcome all these things. The album really represents what I’m feeling, me being a storyteller and trying to reach people and actually have substance and messages. So on ‘Shontelligence’ you’re gonna get a fusion of Pop, Hip Hop, R&B and Reggae.

Singersroom: Why do you love R&B?

Shontelle: What I love about R&B is how emotional it usually is; it really connects to people’s emotions. R&B is a very melodic type of music and I love melody; I love colorful music. R&B is really colorful but at the same time very rhythmic. I connect with R&B a lot because as someone from the Caribbean, rhythm is really important to us so it’s really cool in that you get to blend rhythm plus soul and a lot of musicality. —— By: Interview By Adeniyi Omisore


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