by James Stratton
In our ongoing series before each edition of Raise Her Voice, we reach out to former participant in the show and ask them about the experience and other questions about their artistry. For Volume 2, we're gonna publish interviews leading up to the sixth (!) edition of Austin's famous Raise Her Voice showcase, this Friday at Cheer Up Charlie's. Our first interview for y'all is with Shiela (link to website), who is a Raise Her Voice veteran, having performed this year at January's and February's Raise Her Voice showcases. Shiela and I corresponded over email and discussed musical inspiration, her growth as an artist, and where the future is leading her.
Human Influence: How did you get your start as a creative artist?
Shiela: I started writing poems as a little girl, but I would never show them to anyone. They were mostly about nature, my family, boys I had crushes on... that kind of thing. As a teenager I began singing in the choir, taking piano classes, and teaching myself how to play the guitar on YouTube. That was a really fun time in my life, and I appreciate the opportunity I had to learn the theory/exercises that I still use today. I decided to finally 'go for it' as a solo artist when I was on a study abroad trip in Barcelona, Spain. I think being in college and in a country where no one knew my name really reinforced my belief that anything was possible.
Human Influence: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Shiela: My musical influences range from Selena Quintanilla, Sade, Tracy Chapman, and Lauryn Hill to Kehlani, H.E.R., Kali Uchis, Drake, Daniel Ceasar, and a looot of others. I love listening to peoples work.
Human Influence: What has been your greatest challenge overcome as an artist?
Shiela: The greatest challenge I've had to overcome as an artist definitely has to be self-doubt. Staying motivated to put in years of work with little recognition/pay is a constant process. You gotta remind yourself why you're really doing this. Fame isn't what I'm looking for, and its for sure not gonna fuel me more than taking care of my family.
Human Influence: What does the future hold? Any exciting, new projects?
Shiela: ~tHe FuuuTUreeE~ hahaha, well I was an Official SXSW Artist in 2017, so this year I'm chillin' a lil bit. Gonna focus more on using the festival as a networking opportunity. I've just been keeping my head low, working on finishing this EP with my partner Jake Wigal. We're starting a duo called Pretty Strangers! I'm super excited about that. Keep an eye out for our single 'Somebody Else' and our EP dropping this summer.
Catch Shiela on all major music and social platforms as @shielamusic