Support Women Artists Sunday: Shingai Shoniwa
Shingai Elizabeth Maria Shoniwa (born on 1 September 1981) is an English singer of Zimbabwean descent and best known as the vocalist and bassist for the UK indie rock band Noisettes. Her first name, Shingai, means ‘persevere’ in the Shona language.
Shoniwa grew up in a South London public-housing estate; her father died when she was 11, leaving her to a single mother who had emigrated from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The experience, Shoniwa says, absolutely informs her music. “Wanting to escape from reality can inspire the greatest and most trivial creative natures in people,” and “I think escapism is something that connects all of us. Everybody has their own little soundtrack, and I guess I’m trying to make my own soundtrack to my escape plan. I want people to realize that there’s so much more.”
She first wanted to be an actress, and for a while joined the Lost Vagueness crew as a burlesque performer. She studied circus skills at a London youth club as a teenager. When she graduated, she attended art school and dabbled in local theatre. Her classmate and friend, Dan Smith, would hold what she called "ridiculous jam sessions — too many people strumming broken guitars thinking they're Syd Barrett". She then went on to study at the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon." One day she joined him singing, and the two quickly formed a group called the Noisettes.
Critical response to Shoniwa's performance has largely been positive. Rolling Stone magazine said that "Shoniwa is a living, breathing manifestation of the rock & roll spirit, with a voice that is equal parts Iggy Pop and Billie Holiday." In her stage persona, Shoniwa looks like what the New Yorker called "an African supermodel", and she frequently performs in bare feet while wearing face paint or fur hats on stage.
Shingai Shoniwa has provided backing vocals for different indie rock, electronic, and punk rock artists including, Guillemots with their song "Made Up Love Song#43" and "Over the Stairs". Shoniwa made an appearance on Annie Lennox's 2007 album, "Songs Of Mass Destruction" on the single Sing. The track, about the fight against HIV and AIDS, included 22 other renowned female artists such as Madonna, Melissa Etheridge, Gladys Knight, and Celine Dion.
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