Written By Madison Stone in collaboration with Chequelle Brown
Singer-songwriter Shonie is ready to let the world know who she is. Her story, which she told in an exclusive Level21 interview, is one of pursuing your dreams no matter how crazy they might seem. With years of hard work under her belt and new music on the way, Shonie and her songs are a testament to how doing what you love, giving back to those who support you, and not being afraid to try can lead to incredible things.
Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Shonie said that her family travelled extensively because of her military father but that she would always find her roots in St. Louis.
“We would always end up back home,” she said. “We were a part of the culture.”
That culture—particularly the music—would be one of the main influences on her future career path. Over the years, Shonie picked up techniques, style, and passion from the artists she loved to listen to, taking in their music while developing her own sense of style.
“I used to listen to a lot of Alicia Keys, and I love Jazmine Sullivan’s voice,” Shonie said. “I also really like Rico Love. I was influenced a lot by his writing, and I got a lot of my techniques from him.”
For all her love for music, though, Shonie didn’t start out as an artist. Her family was very traditional—Shonie is one of the oldest of 15 siblings, and that role came with certain expectations.
“My family wanted me to go to college, get a degree, get a job,” Shonie said. “I did that, but I just wasn’t fulfilled.”
Shonie said she simply couldn’t help but feel the call to write and sing—almost like the music was a force inside her she couldn’t quite dam. She felt she was meant to be an artist.
“It was something I had deep down in me,” she said, “and I just cannot shake it.”
It was not for lack of trying, though. Shonie did go down the more traditional route her family wanted for her, and she even got into nursing school. However, her artistic dreams couldn’t be held back forever.
“I got to a point where I realized I just have to do what makes me happy, so I decided to go for it,” she said.
Making that decision—the one that would go on to change her life and pull her from the path she’d been on—is something Shonie said she’ll never forget.
“I remember the day,” she said. “I’d moved to Texas with my sister because I was going to go to nursing school. I’d been accepted into the program, and my sister and I were going to the school to complete the paperwork. While we were driving, she turned and looked at me, and she said, ‘Shonie, I think you will be a great nurse, and you’ll do a beautiful job at it, but that’s not what you want to do. You want to sing.’”
Shonie’s sister then told her that no matter her decision, she would support Shonie in it.
“She said she’d have my back,” Shonie said. “And I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it.’”
The two didn’t go to the school and instead drove straight to a music store, where her sister bought Shonie her first microphone. Shonie’s musical career had begun.
“After that, I was in my room for the entire summer, teaching myself how to write music,” she said. “I forced myself to learn.”
The two sisters set up Shonie’s social media accounts so that the up-and-coming singer could begin networking. She quickly connected with heavy hitters such as singer and producer Rico Love, who was one of her biggest influences and who helped mentor her through the early stages of her career.
“I was fortunate to get so much support early on in the process, and I don’t take that for granted,” Shonie said.
And she hasn’t taken it for granted. Shonie has been hard at work to make her dream come true, whether that be by working in the studio, teaching herself techniques, or ultimately just writing music that she loves and feels connected to—music that’s heartfelt, relatable, and real.
“I write my feelings,” she said. “If I’m feeling a certain way, or if I feel like I didn’t say everything I wanted to in a conversation, I’ll write it down in my journal. Then, when I hear great music, or I have a track that touches me, I’ll go back to what I worte and play with the melodies and words until it pieces together.”
This way of writing music—of making sure it’s something meaningful and true—is a big part of what Shonie said good singers and songwriters are meant to do.
“Artists are really heavy influencers in society, and that could be a great thing if you use it in the right way,” Shonie said. “People are watching everything you do, so you have to be yourself. You have a voice, and you have a call. Use it to reach back out to your community. Just—stand for something positive. Be a good person.”
Shonie said that one thing she wants people to know about her is that she’s trying to follow that philosophy—to be a good, true-to-self beacon in the community—in her pursuit of a musical career.
“I’m just trying to be myself,” she said, voice soft. “I’m a person, and I’m trying to always be better. I operate out of love.”
Shonie’s newest song, “This 4U” featuring Jung Coasta, drops Oct. 29. It’s available for preorder now and can be requested on local radio stations. Its boppy melody and smooth lyrics have already earned it a spot in the top 10 requested songs on a local St. Louis station.
Another of Shonie’s singles, “Leave Me Alone,” is already available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and Amazon under the name Shan.
You can find Shonie on Instagram @jusstshan, and on any other social media @JusstShonie.