Shekhinah Reveals Music As Her Ultimate Dwelling Place In This Exclusive Chat With Vibe.NG

Shekhinah Donnell
Shekhinah Donnell |Source

Of all the incredible talents that have so far been eagle-eyed and swooped by Sony Music Entertainment- particularly on the African radar-, Shekhinah’s resume has got to be one of the most interesting.
As at the time the press release of her Sony Music deal circulated the media in February 2017, Shekhinah had:

  • Taken her first shot at MNET’s popular reality music game show (SA Idols season 7, 2011),

  • Revisited the cause the next year to peak at 6th position as the youngest participant for that year’s show who I must add, was in the middle of her school exams (SA Idols Season 8, 2012)
Source
  • And she had jointly received a precious plaque for her collaboration with Kyle Deutsch on Back to The Beach at the MTV Africa Music Awards (Best Pop & Alternative, 2016).

She had also appeared on Coke Studio S.A with Heavy K, including a plethora of performances in and around the southern part of the African continent and all without an album or even an official single.
By July 2017, Shekhinah and her entire team (which I later learned is halfway made up of her family members) decided that the time had come for her to not just take the bull by the horn, but to swirl it around earth’s axis with her well befitting and long overdue debut tagged “Suited”.

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I first heard Shekhinah on Suited and it caused me to dig her music crates a little deeper. Whether it was her contribution to DJ Sliqe’s “On it” or teaming up with the usual suspect Kyle, or her piercing repetition on Black Coffee’s  Your Eyes, one of the many things that left me pleasantly surprised was her ability to subtly own the music. Another wowza was her very uncomplicated, yet deep and uncommon lyrical strength.
In a chat with Sony’s West African Rep Michael Ugwu for more information on her, he confirmed she’s currently Sony Music Africa’s focus project; adding that based on her prospects, her chances of thriving universally were impressively high.

Upon finally being able to fix an interview time slot around Shekhinah’s work clock (and one reschedule later), I was able to get an even clearer perspective of Shekhinah in her capacity as an artistic force and an easy-going 22-year-old. Before our in-depth conversation, she sent a cute little introductory video after which she gave answers to questions that touched on her music and music background, her education, family, her album which is just around the corner, cultural experiences and a host of other matters.

Vibe.ng: Music officially started for you at the South African Idols Show. What events influenced your decision to participate?
Shekhinah: Um, I was actually encouraged by my sister. My sister said to me that I should try, I’d never know what could happen if I tried. I did and it changed my whole life. I’ll never forget when she encouraged me to do that. You know, I did not want to go because it was early in the morning and she really pushed me to do something that ended up changing my whole life.

What’s on your playlist right now?
At the moment, I’m listening to SZA’s new CTRL album, I’m listening to Olamide’s WO, I’m listening to Sounds From The Other Side, the new Miguel that just came out, everything.

Your rendition of Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice on the Feel Good Live Sessions was very creative and quite awesome.
Yeahh Thank yooouu! I really love Snoop Dogg.

You obviously grew up listening to some Hiphop. Who are you feeling right now?
Definitely Lil Uzi, Travis Scott is my favourite, Anderson Paak is dope, who else? those are my top 3 right now.

I am aware that you are a priority act for Sony Music Africa. How has the engagement with the label been like so far?
The engagement has been very good. I’m happy that they chose me. I think I really worked hard on the song and it deserves all the push that it is getting so thank you for helping me.

Anything for good music ?.
Yaay! Thank You.

‘Music is all I do. I can’t do anything else babe. I promise you…’

Shekhinah
Shekhinah | Source: Artiste’s management

I really love Suited. Tell me about it and the entire process of production.
Thank youu! So Suited; I got sent the beat by email, and it was one of those special songs that comes easily to the artiste. I heard the song and I immediately knew what I wanted to sing about, I immediately had the melody, so from then on it was just a case of finishing the writing. When I finished writing, I thought that there was something lacking. It didn’t have the energy that it needed so we ended up going to DJ Maphorisa’s place. We gave him the song and he ended up adding his flavor to it so it was beautiful that it had a lot of good people work on it. The song became a product of everybody’s hardwork.

Are you working on a follow up or is it already set to drop?
I’m so ready. I wish I could drop the next single today but you know how it is. There is a whole lot planned but I am ready for the next season. The music is ready.

So are you going to share the name of your album with me?
Noo! It’s still a secret. I’ll tell you but not right now. I want everything to be super special.

I already know a song that will be on it though. Different ft Mariechan. You also performed it at the Feel Good Live Sessions.
Yeahh… It is number 6 or 7 on the album and it is wayyyy different from the one I did at Feel Good Live Sessions.

What spurs your lyrics?
For me, it is definitely experience and I’d say people. I usually have to catch an organic feeling. If it is a love song, I have to pick an aspect of this love that I can explain more. So, suited for each other is obviously the whole notion of being paired well. I can never just write something that is not personal. For it to be a good song, I have to experience it or feel it. I can’t possibly sing about money or chains or Louis Vuitton bags ‘cos that’s not really what I have experienced.

Who else is going to be on this secret album?
I have a few collaborations. They are all female and they are all very underrated musicians that deserve the exposure. I have Rouge on the album and she is a well known South African artiste but other than that, it is a showcase of all me, you know, my body of work. I haven’t really involved a lot of people.

But are you looking to working with more people eventually now that your music is on a global scale?
I would love to. For me it is important to kind of explain and introduce myself to everyone so that’s what I feel like this album is really about. It’s a debut album where I get to expose myself to people truthfully then after that, I’m hoping to collaborate with people and people will want to collaborate with me. I’ve done so many collaborations in the past that I needed to put out something that defines who I am as an artiste.

‘I usually have to catch an organic feeling. For it to be a good song, I have to experience it or feel it.’

Shekhinah

How do you juggle music with personal and family time?
I like to incorporate them all so I kinda work with my family closely. My family forms a part of the team. My dad helps, my sister in-law helps, my sister helps, my boyfriend makes a lot of my clothes so we kind of all work together. That has brought us all close actually. Everyone helping has brought us to one space.

Are you living your dream right now?
(Gasps) Yes! Definitely! Without a doubt. I’m beyond grateful. It’s all beyond what I anticipated. I did not expect any of this… I’m living my dream and I hope it never stops. I’m willing to push as hard as I can and work as hard as I can and be forever grateful and forever in the presence of this good feeling.

What drives you?
What drives me is the gift of life. I am really grateful to be alive. I am grateful for my talent and my gift. I’m always motivated by all the blessings and lessons learnt and all the people around me. I love my life and I’m excited about life so I always try to live it to the fullest and music is a big part of my life.

Are you interested in anything besides the music?

Nothing else. Music is all I do. I can’t do anything else babe. I promise you. I would be useless with anything else. (We laugh)

Are you still at AFDA (Africa Film Drama Art School) and what did you study?
I graduated in March. I studied live performances.

It’s quite obvious from how comfortable and calculated you are in your performances.
(Laughs) Thank you…thank you…

Have you been to Nigeria before?
No I have never been to Nigeria before. I wish I did but the cool thing that I can tell you is that I got quite exposed to Nigeria when I did Coke Studio in Kenya. I got to work with Falz and I also got to do a Christmas Carol with Olamide so I got to experience Nigeria a little bit.

When you eventually come, Vibe.ng will be at the airport waiting for you!
Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah!! Thank you so much!

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