Clapton-based ShezAr ready to flourish as artist
- Credit: Archant
Hailing from Hackney royalty and collaborating with some of the biggest names in urban music, Sherelle McKenzie is ready to stand alone as the artist ShezAr.
From being Natasha Bedingfield’s backing singer, aged 16, and a member of the seemingly unstoppable McKenzie family – boasting the likes of her siblings Labirinth, Rockboi and MckNasty – ShezAr is no stranger to the spotlight.
But now audiences can look forward to her forthcoming EP, #ShezArsTheName which will showcase her new sound.
The Clapton-based vocalist said: “I was content doing workshops, session singing and just doing anything musical but in 2009 the light bulb switched on and I wanted to create my journey as an artist.
“I’ve made a musical journey from 16 up until now. Over the years, that has allowed me to perfect my profession, so I can be comfortable on stage when I’m sharing a piece of myself with the audience.”
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ShezAr, 26, cites diverse musical styles as an inspiration, most notably drawing on her gospel upbringing as a major influence, along with contemporary pop stars and soul singers like Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and James Brown.
She said: “It’s not limited because I feel that stops your creative flow and understanding how far music can take you. I would use the term #ElectronicSoulDiva, but the proof in the pudding is you coming to see me perform and making that judgement.”
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Growing up in Hackney also influenced her and with eight artistic siblings, ShezAr has fond memories of a loud musical childhood.
She said: “It was noisy, but a lovely musical noise. We always had the neighbourhood kids come round. They were allowed to hang out at the McKenzie’s where they would stay out of trouble and get entertained too. It was like a youth club.”
She continued: “East London is known for all sorts of courses going on that allow you to develop your skills.
“To see Hackney grow and change can be heart wrenching but on the flip side it makes me feel proud of my area, things are moving and we are growing as a community and as a city.”
Despite the sheer number of creative personalities, ShezAr said there are no rivalries or pressures in her family.
She added: “Personally, I feel that I am strong enough to stand alone. We are happy to see each other flourish and we’ve all got different stuff to offer.
“People ask about us collaborating and definitely, that’s going to happen, but you have to let it brew.
“When we come together as a collective we are able to create an empire. The McKenzies are taking over the music industry.”