In The Mix
Singer and rapper Shea Rose takes center stage
It was the afro that I saw first, and then the slim build of Shea Rose appeared in the doorway, leading to the entrance to Café 939. She was coming from one of her part-time jobs and luckily we were able to meet before she headed on to her next job at (the store) Free People.
The self-described “female Lenny Kravitz meets Lauryn Hill” still works a “regular job” as she juggles her music career and other duties. She was one of five up-and-coming musicians that were hand-picked by Queen Latifah to appear in a national campaign on “America’s Next Female Rapper” presented by the CoverGirl Queen Collection.
During the interview, we strolled over to the Prudential for a brief chat, where the Dorchester native spoke about winning a Boston Music Award, her musical journey and her future plans.
Congratulations on winning the award at the Boston Music Awards. [Best RandB/Soul/Urban Contemporary Artist of the Year]. It must be exciting and thrilling.
Thank you. I never thought it would happen. I was kind of numb the night of. It’s so interesting. I’ve watched my mentors and people accepting awards at the Grammys or Oscars. You get so involved in the work and the journey and when you get to that moment, you’re like, “oh, oh … it’s actually working.” You don’t know what to think. It was a wonderful celebration. My family was there and my friends. It’s just so nice to be honored and acknowledged in that way.
Boston hasn’t been quite the nurturing ground for African American artists. Your category encapsulates several different genres. As an artist, does that bother you or box you in?
My music has rock and soul and hip hop in it. I kind of push a whole bunch of genres into one as an artist. I just try to do what I do and people are going to say what they’re going to say. They’re going to try to label you on what makes them feel comfortable.
Sometimes, I get “oh, she’s a rapper” because people kind of know me more as rapping, but I started off singing. I used to be very caught up in what I was and now not so much. Good artists are able to draw from inspiration.
Has it been a challenge to stay grounded with so many things happening quickly in the last few years? Does it seem real to you at times?
There are opportunities that I learned so much from. I kind of grew up musically at Berklee. The talent pool [there] is out of this world. I can’t help but be humbled by the process, admire the people who come before me. I admire my peers, those that have done music before me, those who are just so overwhelmingly gifted.
And it’s not always those people that are recognized or in the spotlight, and not all those people are looking to be out there, in front of the cameras, wanting the Grammy. I realize that and I’m happy I have that perspective.
You’ve worked with [drummer] Cindy Blackman and you released the Little Warriors mixtape. What’s the next step for you? Is there thought behind it or is it more organic for you?
I think the last few years were more organic in terms of my approach because I was going to school and I couldn’t really pull out. And, I wanted to finish Berklee … So, my plan now after graduating is to really get national coverage. Winning a Boston Music Award is really one of the top things you can do in this city musically. And so, I want to take that and go on tour and actually get in the studio and start writing another album.
Who do you look up to and want to perform with?
Oh, my goodness. I always say Andre 3000. I think he’s incredible. I would love to perform with Lenny Kravitz. He would be on the top of the list. I look up to everyone that’s doing it, everyone who’s trying to make this happen, who’s working hard. From Justin Bieber and Britney Spears all the way to Esperanza Spalding, who is an incredible musician. I love Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Norah Jones. I love the songwriters.
You’ve modeled for Covergirl and for Puma. Will we see more of you modeling?
Queen Latifah is such a great role model. She’s able to do it all. She sings and raps, has the movies and she’s a CoverGirl and has her own line [with CoverGirl]. That would kind of be my ideal career. I don’t necessarily want to model. That’s tough work and I’ll leave that to people who do it well. I just really want to focus on the music.
See Shea Rose in her first headlining performance in The Red Room at Café 939 on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $10. To purchase tickets, visit www.cafe939.com or www.reverbnation.com/venue/cafe939atberklee.
Coming up …
Tonight, it’s the “Throwback” at Julep Bar in the Financial District with special guest DJ, DJ Spinderella of the legendary hip hop group Salt-n-Pepa. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at http://minted32-sekou.eventbrite.com/.
See Lenny Kravitz live with special guest Raphael Saadiq this Friday night at the Citi Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m.
If you would like me to cover or write about your event, e-mail me at email@example.com.