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Songtrust Spotlight: Shaé Universe

Shaé Universe is a Nigerian-born British singer-songwriter who moved to the U.K. at the age of 4. Having grown up surrounded by the sounds of soul and gospel music, Shaé now cites the likes of Erykah Badu, Jazmine Sullivan, and Brandy as key influences that helped shape her musical journey. The American Theatre graduate has since made waves in the U.K. music scene, with notable collaborations including Etta Bond, Kojo Funds, Ms Banks, and Kojey Radical. She’s also had online recognition from the likes of Chance The Rapper, Stormzy, and Tory Lanez.


WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

I started singing in the church choir supporting my mum from the age of like 7 or 8, but I’ve always loved music, words, and all things art. The inspiration to become a music artist really kicked in around 12 or 13 years old when I started to form my own taste in music, listening to artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, etc. I’d say I started to seriously pursue music in 2016, once graduating from university.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

I’d say my style of music at the moment is an unusual yet groundbreaking synergy. I’ve been experimenting with R&B and Drill recently which has really enabled me to tap into the duality of my art and personality.

In terms of my performance style, relaxed and effortless are the words that come to mind. I’ve never been asked about my philosophy before lol, I guess my philosophy as an artist is built on faith, excellence, and humility. I have faith that I can succeed at whatever I choose to do in this industry as long as it’s of an excellent standard and I remain humble and teachable. 

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?

My life experiences generally drive me to create. I’m a "journal-type" songwriter meaning I usually write about life from a personal standpoint. I’m still figuring out what my idea of real success is in this industry if I’m 100% honest however I do know that actively healing and helping people get through life globally with my music makes me feel the most fulfilled.

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

The first would be God and the second would be my parents. As I’ve been managing myself for the past 4 years, I’ve essentially been developing myself as an artist and just trying to make the best career decisions via honouring my intuition. However, it definitely helps to have parents who support me emotionally and even financially at times, siblings who cheer me on at every given opportunity and a group of friends/team that trust and support my decisions whilst always being honest with me and giving advice where needed. They all keep me together.

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

It definitely can be overwhelming! I’m still not sure how I’ve been able to handle both the creative and business sides of my career alone for so long, but one thing I can say is focus and faith are key. There are so many things that can easily distract or discourage you from your goals e.g. social media, industry over-saturation, financial strain (being an independent music artist is expensive!!) self-doubt/mental health, the list goes on and on. However consciously practicing maintaining belief in yourself and dreams through everything you experience, good and bad, is usually the difference between the people that make it and the people that don’t. 

HOW DO YOU THINK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP INTO A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN MUSIC CREATORS?

More women A&Rs! More women head execs! More women producers! More women engineers! More women studio owners! More women tastemakers! Just more women in every musical department!

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Take all your industry interactions with a pinch of salt, especially if you’re particularly good at what you do. Be open to networking, of course, but never too trusting (prematurely), and lastly, have your wits about you. Speaking up about your wishes and boundaries from the jump is essential because it sets the tone for how people treat you.

WOMEN ARE BECOMING MORE EMPOWERED, NOT ONLY IN KNOWING THEIR VALUE BUT ALSO IN SETTING BOUNDARIES, GOING AFTER WHAT THEY WANT AND DESERVE, AND LIFTING UP OTHER WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS YOU?

Most recently, I’ve actually been getting a lot of comfort and encouragement from my own lyrics in my song 111. The lyrics affirm:

“I’m exactly where I’m meant to be right now, I’m attracting everything I need, taking every dah like every breath I take, manifesting all that is in me.”

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2022?

My first-ever debut project, which I’m really excited about! I’ll also be traveling more which I’m even more excited about :)

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