Newcomer Shelea (shuh-LAY-uh) is definitely someone you should pay attention to. The singer, songwriter, and pianist embody all the skills of a budding superstar: looks, voice, musicality, personality and presence. Inspired by the late Whitney Houston and a Mentee of the great Stevie Wonder, Shelea, who wrote the theme song to the film Jumping The Broom, has a gift that will call on hearts and raise spirits. She released her debut album, Love Fell On Me, last month (June 2013), led by the soulful single, "Love The Way You Love Me," which premiered on Singersroom back in February (2013). The set features production and appearances from Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross), Brian McKnight and Stevie Wonder (played Harmonica on the title track, "Love Fell On Me," which was selected as the musical theme song for the "Jumping the Broom" film.)
We recently chopped it up with Shelea on a plethora of topics including majoring in Music, Stevie Wonder, performing at The White House, and more. Watch the video below or read on…
Music As a Profession … Being in college, I was in a girls group…The girls group didn't necessarily work out but just being in the studio and writing… That was my first time really being immersed in music culture like that; late nights in the studio, writing, producing, that's when I felt like, 'I think I want to do this on my own'.
College Education & Music … I graduated with a BA in Music, emphasis piano; I play piano too. I'm playing on everything on the album, except one song, my brother-in-law Justin Wilson is playing. I just think all those life experiences in college, it just makes you stronger as a person. Faith plays a really big part in my life, in my career; I believe that God has a plan for me, and he's been with me this whole time.
Debut Album, 'Love Fell On Me' … It's a collection of songs that kind of show the ins and outs of love. I actually had a version of this album that I released a little bit earlier, and we decided to revamp it a little bit; make it more focused musically. It still has the same essence, it tells a story, and I think no matter where you are in life, whether you're going through a breakup or you're just madly in love with someone or just trying to put the pieces together, I think that you're going to find something on this album that's going to resonate with you.
The single "Love The Way You Love Me" … I actually wrote this song many many years before, I had the chorus [so] when I started to revamp the album, that melody came back to me…I ended up writing some verses and a bridge.
Opinion on Love … Love comes in a lot of different forms. When it comes to a relationship, you just have to meet the person that you can have your needs and their needs met at the same time.
Creative Process … Sometimes it's based on experience or maybe a conversation I had with someone or something I've read…Even if we were talking and you said something, I would write it down, cause that might be a lyric. I just get my inspiration from a lot of different places.
Inspiration and Influences … I definitely have a very close connection with Whitney Houston, I think most people do so I'm not different in that, but I've gotten so much from her, her phrasing, the way she approaches music, how the lyric is so important, so I definitely feel that I was inspired by that. Of course Stevie Wonder, who has become my mentor, he's just an incredible songwriter; the way he looks at life…is very inspiring.
Working With Stevie Wonder … He's incredible, he's magical, he's everything you think he is. He just has a good heart, that's what I love most about him. He's obviously a musical genius, we all know that, he's been the soundtrack to all our lives, but he has a good heart…He's actually playing the harmonica on Love Fell On Me, which is the name of the album, which is also the theme song for Jumping the Broom, the motion picture…
Meeting Stevie Wonder … I met him four years ago. I was on this album called The Standard with Take 6 and I sang the song "Something to Watch Over Me," he heard it, and he wanted to meet me. That's just kind of when the relationship started, and we just connected immediately, musically, and spiritually, and we just over the years became friends. Our relationship kind of picked up a year and a half ago, he was very influential in getting me to perform at The White House.
The White House … I was in The White House, and I'm like, 'I'm up in the piece, [laughs] I can't believe I'm walking through these halls.' It was historic, just not even meeting President Obama and Michelle, that was of course what I was most looking forward to because they're just such incredible people…there spirit was just exactly what you see, so warm and welcoming to me.
Hardships As a New Artist … As a new artist, you have to realize that you have to prove yourself over and over and over again. Right when you think there is nothing left to prove, there is always something else to prove. I'm at a place now where I'm in it for the long haul, I know there's going to be a lot of NOs, a lot of rejections, but I know that God has given me a gift, and I believe that I have something special to offer this industry and I'm in it for the long haul.
Founder and Creator of Singersroom.com and IncredibleWork.com. Follow me on Instagram at @gary.gentles.