Montreal based R&B singer/songwriter Shaharah brings a rare blend of talent, experience and tenacity to both her music and the business aspects of her career. That tenacity is clear on the lead single and title track of her upcoming debut record, No Turning Back. “It’s an anthem for men and women,” she says of the song. “It’s about making the decision to move forward and to not look back.”
That’s the approach Shaharah has always taken to music from the moment she first began rhyming and writing melodies at the age of five, as well as the ethic she now brings to building a career as a solo artist.
Born and raised in Montreal, Shaharah credits her Jamaican born father as her first influence. “My dad loves to sing. He was always singing in the house when I was a kid, playing Teddy Pendergrass, The Jacksons, Luther Vandross, The Stylistics… That was how I fell in love with music. Even today I think that still shines through in the way I write melodies.”
A born performer, Shaharah took the first opportunity she could to step on stage, creating fully formed shows for her family. By age fourteen her efforts became yet more focused when she joined the Montreal gospel choir, Genuine Faith. “It was the first time I actually performed on a stage under lights to a huge crowd. That’s when I thought to myself, wow, it doesn’t get any better than this. This is what I want to do.”
Since then there really has been no turning back...
After a short time with Montreal girl group, Jaï, during which she wrote their first single, Checkin’ Me Out, Shaharah decided to take more control over her career and go it alone. She went on to place 12th on the third season of Popstars: The One, and though the experience prompted a realization that big box reality TV wasn’t for her, she has embraced the reality and immediacy of today’s music industry with characteristic enthusiasm.
No Turning Back showcases a vocal certainty that can only be developed by putting in long hours where it counts – on stage. On record and as a live performer Shaharah delivers the goods with straightforward skill and refreshing intimacy – a seamless blend of modern pop and classic R&B sensibilities that mine the same deep vein of sweet soul laid open by her earliest influences. All with an undeniable 'girl next door' quality that’s simultaneously seductive and playful, but speaks not so much of innocence, but of the experience and confidence she's gained over years as a performer.
Breaking into today’s music industry requires equal measures of confidence and uncommon dedication to both the craft of making music, and to developing a singular voice – a challenge that has informed every aspect of Shaharah’s development as an artist from day one. “I always knew that I loved music. It helps me to put things into perspective, and to release my emotions instead of keeping them bottled in. I didn’t know how realistic it was to pursue as a career, but it always gave me peace.”
Not one to wait on others to do her work for her, Shaharah has taken every aspect of her career in hand; from management, to forming her own indie record label, ShaMusic, to booking and performing in excess of 200 shows in 2009 alone. During that time she’s been steadily putting together tracks for No Turning Back and further honing her live chops during an ongoing weekly residency at NDG’s popular Next Door Pub.
Written and recorded with producer Kent ‘Majess’ Austin, No Turning Back showcases both the singer’s ample vocal chops and thorough understanding of what makes a track fresh and current. “That’s why ‘Majess’ and I connected and why we vibe so well together, I love the fact he’s able to create beats that are really current, but still have the flavour of old school R&B.”
Whether it's the powerful positive message of lead single, No Turning Back, or the sultry hints she drops in the more meditative track, Secret, Shaharah tells stories her listeners can easily find their own struggles reflected in. And that, she says, is her greatest pleasure. “I love sharing my music with people, to draw emotion out of them and to help them express themselves.”
If anything, she’s simply passing on her father’s habit of sharing the music he loved so much with her – drawing a growing audience to her music and performances in the very way she was drawn to the stage in the first place.
A fitting tribute to his influence and support, No Turning Back was released to radio March 2nd 2010, Shaharah’s father’s birthday. The single continues to gain momentum on Top 40, Hot AC and AC formats. The video, directed by Brian Finlay and filmed in Montreal and the nearby Laurentian mountains, has also played well. First featured on MuchMusic, it’s now in rotation on both MuchMore and Much Vibe.