Shan Smile is the performing artist behind the beautifully sung and uplifting ‘Prisoner of Hope’ EP, released in October 2016 and influenced by a rich love for gospel, reggae and soul. Using her music to evoke smiles that paint a picture of joy on her listeners faces, is what Shan Smile loves to do, and she succeeds in doing so.
Shan Smile takes us through to the other side of a journey of emotional experiences, from needing help “to get it together”, to overcoming “strongholds” and breaking through “closed doors”. Hope, faith, perseverance and triumph are the running themes on this project. In conversation, we begin to uncover the roots of the stories sung on ‘Prisoner of Hope’.
What does love mean to you and how do you translate that through your music?
Love means to me, to be selfless and also God is love. I translate love through my music by bringing positivity, being selfless as I said and putting a smile on people’s faces. Encouraging people to be hopeful, and giving a good feeling to people; whether that’s through my voice, through what I say or through the music.
What does hope mean to you?
It means to be hopeful for things that you probably can’t see. You might not see them right in front of your eyes but you’re hopeful that you will see, or you’re hopeful that it will come to pass. It might not come to pass yet, but it will come to pass or things will get better.
When and how did you get into music?
I’ve been into music from a very young age, for the longest I can remember. My Dad has always been into music as well, so I sort of followed in his footsteps in terms of performing and singing. When I was young he used to help me record music and then I went into competitions with my sister or by myself and the love for it grew.
How old were you when you made that decision to say THIS is my career path?
Well I started at the BRIT school when I was 14, and then once I finished my GCSE’s I stayed on at the BRIT school, so I was about 16. That’s when I said to myself “yes, I definitely want to do this”.
Sometimes I feel like it renews, sometimes you go through it and then you get knocked back and you have to tell yourself again that you can do it.
I’ve made my mind up to do music, because that’s what I’ve been good at from a young age (14/16), but another step is being an artist and pushing myself as an artist.
You said your dad inspired you musically, what type of music did he listen to, what did you grow up listening to?
A lot of soul and a lot of reggae, those two were the main genres, soul and reggae. All types, literally such a wide range of music. [For example] Bob Marley, Sam Cooke, Nina Simone or Randy Crawford. We had big collection of music, and then there was gospel as well. All sorts really, it was a wide range.
Why do you make music?
Because it’s what enjoy doing, I enjoy creating music, I enjoy performing and it’s just a great feeling that I get from it. I believe that I have a gift, God has given me a gift and I want to use it to my full potential. I want to get better and better at it, so the more I do it, the better I get. I believe that when God has given us a gift, we should use it to our full potential. That’s the mission. Everyone can unite through music as well, all races, religions etc.
What role does religion play in your life, as well as your music?
It plays a big role. Some would say it’s not about religion, it’s about your relationship with God and that is very true. I believe that there are more important things in life than material things, it’s not all about how many awards I get or even where I get with my music. It’s about how I affect people along the journey and who can be affected in a positive way through my music.
I wasn’t always as religious as I am now. I had to pass through negativity, I had to go through the bad to get to the good sort of thing. And every day is a learning curve, everything is a learning curve. The more I learn, the more I can help others.