Sharlene-Monique is a multi award-winning singer-songwriter, who began singing in church aged 4.
Her debut EP Destiny was released in April 2018 and combines emotive, soulful vocals with inspiring songs of empowerment. It has been streamed over 500,000 times internationally on Spotify including Japan, Taiwan & the Philippines.
The singer’s music video ‘You’ won Best Solo, Best Inspirational and Music Video Of The Year at the Jump Music Video Awards 2017. With her voice compared to Lianne La Havas and Tweet.
Sharlene-Monique is also a part of Kingdom Gospel Choir who became a household name after they sang at the Royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
TBB Talks caught up with her to delve deeper into her musical journey …
How does it feel to release your debut EP ‘Destiny’ …
It’s an amazing feeling, I’ve wanted to release my own music as long as I can remember so it felt like I had given birth to a dream.
You started singing at the age of 4 in church and then went on to sing in the UK’s biggest Gospel Choir ‘Kingdom Choir’ and even performed at the Prince and Princess of Sussex Royal wedding; how did that come about and how was that experience?
I’ve been in the Kingdom Choir for 10 + years and I’ve loved it from the start until now, it’s like a family. A previous Kingdom choir member recommended Karen to someone who works at Clarence house and the rest is history to be honest. It was honestly so unexpected but also extremely exciting. It’s definitely something I’ll be telling my future children about. Being in Windsor castle amongst The Royals, Oprah Winfrey and Idris Elba was really quite surreal.
Working with Karen Gibson, must be amazing, how much has she inspired your sound and vocal range?
Working with Karen is exactly that, amazing and challenging too. She is a woman of excellence and anyone who works with her, has to jump up to her standard. I’ve definitely grown in many ways from being around her. I’ve sung in her choirs since I was 12 and she has influenced my sound over years but like any singer, we are always evolving and I’m always listening to music to be inspired.
Your music gives off a combination of Neo Soul, Gospel, and Funk. Some of your songs are gospel, is there reluctance to be known as a gospel artist?
I’m not afraid to speak about my faith at all and it was important for me to express it authentically on the EP. Music is all about sharing stories about life and real experiences and I’ve found that as long as I’m being myself and being real, my music has been received.
I performed at an event in Glasgow called ‘Ladies of Soul‘ to support an amazing artist called Unouma Okudo and I sung a worship song during the set called ‘King Of My heart‘. I remixed it with a reggae beat and the audience loved it. I don’t really like to label myself, I sing my songs in bars and I sing them in churches. I get the same response wherever I go, tears, smiles, dancing and laughter. I just want to inspire and impact people and as long I’m doing that I’m happy.
After streaming over 400,000 times internationally do you feel your music message is something people have been looking for?
I don’t know if it’s what they are looking for but I guess as humans we don’t always know what we want until we hear it. I received a DM on Instagram last week from a lady in Taiwan who had stumbled across my song, Destiny. She explained that she listened to the whole EP and had been moved to tears. I’ve received videos from parents sharing their children dancing and singing to my songs. Messages like this mean everything to me because it reminds me that I’m exactly where I’m meant to me.
You have a Blog ‘Be uniquely you’ this is a platform for women and young adults which carries a similar message to your music, why is it so important that people are actively self-loving themselves?
It’s important because we’re all special, have something great to offer the world and women need to know they don’t have to subscribe to the media’s version of beauty. We come in all shapes and sizes and we’re all beautiful.
Is writing your own material a skill you feel all artists should have?
I think it’s a great skill to have but it’s not everyone’s talent. If that’s not you, that’s ok.
Who are people most comparing you to?
I have been compared to Lianne La Havas, India Arie, Jill Scott and Tweet, which is a huge compliment because they have amazing voices.
The loss of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin shocked the world, did she inspire you and what have you learnt from all the doors she opened for black females in the music industry?
Of course! She is the benchmark, the example and I have sung her songs over the years. She definitely paved the way for people like me and her legacy will live on for many years to come.
Which song is your favourite on the EP ‘Destiny’ and what most do you want the listeners to feel from your sound?
I don’t think I have a favourite, it depends on the day. I want people to have their thoughts provoked, be inspired to go after their dreams, goals and for them to experience a sense of joy and happiness.
Interview by Shakira N Meghie