Singer/Songwriter Sheyda has a distinct, powerful, and original sounding singing voice which a couple of years ago seemed like it would be an impossibility. Sheyda moved to Nashville after being accepted into Belmont University’s vocal performance program to pursue her dreams of becoming a singer/songwriter (no spoilers if you read my review of her previous single “Wish I could Want You”). While studying and honing her craft Sheyda found out that she had vocal nodules and would need to have them removed surgically. For a budding singer/songwriter this could have been the end of a dream that hadn’t even started yet. Not for Sheyda. She persisted, honing her craft as a writer and continuing to push herself to sing, finding her own sound and her own voice in the process. I got to sit down with Sheyda and talk about her journey leading up to the release of her brand new single “Lungs”.
What was it like growing up in California on your family’s homestead?
I feel really lucky looking back on growing up how and where I did. I grew up on ranches with lots of animals and a lot of freedom. My parents were young when they had me so there were always people and friends around too. I got to experience a lot about people and life from a young age but also stay detached from the world at the same time.
Do you feel like your childhood and background shaped the journey that you went on in music?
Definitely. I really had a wild upbringing. A lot of love and chaos and experiences that were critical to what made me the woman I am today.
How did it feel to get that acceptance letter from Belmont University?
It was an amazing day. I was out with friends and my father called to tell me the letter had come to the house, he read it over the phone and I lost it. I was jumping around and freaking out. There’s a video of it somewhere.
What was the first thing you did when you moved to Nashville?
My mom stayed with me my first week here and we spent it basically nesting. I’m really particular about my home and feeling cosy and comfortable so we drug each other to every furniture shop in town. At the time I moved into a flat on 12 south and we also spent a lot of time exploring the restaurants and the surrounding neighbourhood. It was a busy but also awesome couple of weeks.
When you found out you would have to undergo surgery to repair your vocal cords, what was the first thing that ran through your mind?
Fear that I would never sing again. Or that my voice would no longer sound the same or feel like mine in the way it had my whole life. I didn’t realize how much my singing and voice factored into my identity until I realized there was a possibility that I would be losing it.
Did that experience shape the writer and artist you are now?
I don’t know that the experience shaped me, but the time and changes I had to make afterward gave me the space to grow into the musician I am today. It was definitely the beginning of a domino effect for my life.
Who was that “special songwriting teacher” that inspired you to keep pursuing your dreams of being a singer and do you still keep in touch with them today?
Her name is Jodi Marr and yes I do! She is a dear friend now and I still write with her today. She actually was one of the co-writers for “The Dragon” and “Wish I Could Want You”.
How does it feel to know that your music resonates with people to the point of generating thousands of views on YouTube?
It’s kind of surreal. I think one of the biggest insecurities as an artist is the fear that people won’t like what you create or won’t understand it. So, to have such a positive response is such an amazing feeling.
What separates the music you are writing now from your previous singles?
I think when I started songwriting I wasn’t as focused. There was a lot of just throwing ideas against a wall and seeing what stuck. I’m becoming much more intentional in what I do musically and how I go about the writing and creating process.
Can you take us through the inspiration for “Lungs”?
The inspiration for “Lungs” is really based on trauma and survival. During that particular write there was a lot of open discussion on things that the people in that room had personally gone through. It ranged from abuse to addiction and beyond and we wanted to capture the experience someone goes through mentally and physically when trying to survive and move on from those kinds of traumatic experiences and that’s how “Lungs” came to life.
If you could choose the legacy you leave behind in this world, and describe that legacy in one word, what would it be?
Change. I want to be part of positive change. I don’t know what that looks like yet but I hope that comes through in my music, and hopefully as well in my life and what I do with it.
What is your go-to Holiday movie?
“The Holiday” is a classic I always go to. However, right around Christmas I always get in the mood to watch all the Harry Potter movies.
What is something your fans might not know about you?
I think maybe that I love to design homes and spaces. If I wasn’t a musician I probably would’ve flipped houses or designed homes.
And finally, what do you want to say to your fans as they read this?
Just that I appreciate you guys so much. Musicians really don’t have anything without the people who listen.
To learn more about Sheyda and to watch the music video for her latest release “Lungs” click on the links below. Much love y’all!
p style=”text-align: justify;”>(Photo by Jan Rosenstein)