A Powerhouse Songstress

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Stylistic versatlity whilst maintaining consistent standards is just one of the many things that distinguishes the talent that is BASHIYRA. Soulful, mesmerizing and smooth are just a few of the words that describe her inimitable voice. With a repertoire that spans reggae, soulful house, neo-soul and jazz, BASHIYRA has an ability to captivate, move and entertain diverse audiences. The greatest example of this capability was her rousing performance at The Opening Ceremony of The London 2012 Paralympic Games and a subsequent personal thank you letter from UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Never one to rest on her laurels, the multi-award winner leapt in spring 2013 by setting a new World Record – BASHIYRA become the first Independent Ar’st to achieve 4 concurrent positions in one chart. The consecutive releases, I Won’t Worry, You Haven’t Seen Nothing Yet, The You In Me, and Don’t Get In My Face, all charted in The Top 50 RnB Charts DPP (USA). Whilst the heavy-hitter, I Won’t Worry, simultaneously held the #1 position on The Urban/RnB/Crossover Top 40 Breakouts Chart (USA), and the Number 30 position on The Sweet Rhythms Chart (UK), having previously peaked there at #2.

BASHIYRA established her career in the 90′s working as a backing singer for artists ranging from the iconic Queen, Michael Bolton, to the legendary PaX Labelle and Diana Ross. Her prowess as a songwriter, producer and arranger has been recognized by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Gamble and Huff, the production duo responsible for The Sound of Philadelphia. 2009 saw the release of her refreshing debut, THOUGHT YOU KNEW, a balanced mix of neo-soul, jazz and dance harnessed by her rich, soulful and emotive voice. This successful self-release led to BASHIYRA receiving The Soul Baby Live Award 2011. In the same year, Black Women in the Arts awarded BASHIYRA The Nina Simone Award for her outstanding work in the area of jazz (which was acknowledged and endorsed by the official legacy estate of Dr Nina Simone).

The London-based singer, songwriter, producer and arranger performs internationally and has passport stamps from all continents. She was the first international artist to sign a production deal with NuVybe Records (USA), the label headed by Herb Middleton, an industry veteran who has worked with Raheem DeVaughn, Teddy Pendergrass, Mary J Blige, Al Green, Ann Nesby, Phyllis Hyman and Kenny Lattimore.

Never one to keep her talents to herself, BASHIYRA has spearheaded various educational initiatives that utilize the power of music. As a vocal coach she has facilitated singing, song-writing and composition workshops in schools across many boroughs including the London Borough of Westminster. Dedicated music establishments which have utilized BASHIYRA’s coaching skills include The Midi Music Company and The Rock School.

Her most recent educational project is Empirical Arts – a literacy and numeracy program which aids schoolchildren and adults. Aug 5th 2013 will see the release of the refreshing EP, ONE SHOT AT LOVE, on Expansion Records (UK) a balanced mix of neo-soul, smooth jazz and RnB harnessed by BASHIYRA’s rich, soulful and emotive voice. Produced by Amar Naik (Zed Soul Productions) with shared song-writing contributions from BASHIYRA, Amar and David Nathan (music historian, billboard contributor and global authority on soul music) this promises to be robust musical alliance of the highest standards.

2014 will see the release of the sophomore album, INDEPENDENT, which is sure to deliver more chart-climbers and accolades with production credits to Herb Middleton, Peter Moore Productions (LA Reid). BASHIYRA will write with Crystal Johnson (who has written for Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Hamilton and Angie Stone) and Richard Rudolph (who coI wrote the Minnie Riperton classic Lovin’ You).

“I continually check in with who I am, what I am, and why I’m doing what I’m doing and I make a conscious choice to live my dreams and accept that each trial (which is sometimes very tough) is ultimately a blessing, sometimes in disguise and sometimes apparent.”

HMM: What was life like growing up for you? What kind of family did you grow up in?
BTV: I’m one of nine children and so I grew up in large family and was pre-dominantly raised by my beloved grandmother, who was strict in all the right ways and offered a wealth of support to my siblings, my mother and I. My Mum and Grandmother at one stage lived within 3 minutes of each so my siblings and I would get a choice of which house we were sleeping in for the night, weekend or week. Both my Grandmother and Mother were quiet women who kept themselves to themselves but please do not be mistaken in thinking that either woman was a pushover quite the contrary in fact, run for cover if they ever had the cause to let off ‘real steam’ cause the velocity could cut ice. My childhood was playful, but at times incredibly lonely even with such a large family however this was to become one of my greatest assets because it propelled me into higher levels of self-development, contemplation and a honing of my creative art-form.

HMM: How old were you when you knew this was your calling and what you were going to do for the rest of your life?

BSV: I knew singing/music was my calling from within my Mama’s womb, literally!! It is that deep and as a child I was very specific about what my career path would be and so as well as fulfilling my academia I grafted at my creative talents relishing in the freedom I gained from such creative pursuits, from writing poetry and songs, to taking part in musicals and drama productions.

HMM: What made you decide to be what you have chosen as a profession today? Who were some of your earliest influences?

BTV: In all honesty music chose me from the melody in my heart to the prose in my song to e rhythm in my soul. It all was divinely connected before I joined this earthly plane and I’m merely bringing to life an aspect of the blueprint of my destiny not confined to people, places or things but rather multi-dimensional, boundless and sacred.

My Grandmother has been the greatest influence in my life. She taught me discipline, integrity, grace and the ethic to work hard (which I later revised to working smart!) She provided me with love and support even when her ‘cup’ was empty and showed me all the time the importance of the little things that formed the greatest of my foundations.