Barbados has proven to the music industry that it is more than the typical island scene, dancing natives and the amazing Grass Skirt Posse. Your favorite deejay most likely played Alison Hinds version of Roll in their Caribbean set which has been a grand success since it hit the airwaves. Whats more amazing is that the songwriter behind Roll is the same talent singing T-Shirt that has gained popularity as of late.
Meet SRC Records newest protégé, Shontelle. Shes intelligent, driven and inspired by Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Its even been said that she told Rihanna to drop and give her ten in Cadet Camp during their childhood. The Bajan sensation had an interesting journey between family and education, but her calling into music helped her overcome her dilemma. With her new album Shontelligence in stores now, the songstress showcases her versatility in Pop, R&B and Caribbean flavor, but dont worry. Shes not another Rihanna.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: How excited are you about your album being out?
Shontelle: Super excited! My album is out now and I am ecstatic!
AHHA: Lets talk about your background for a minute. Who were some of the artists that you were influenced by coming up?
Shontelle: Oh man, so many! From local Soca and Calypso artists from home, Bob Marley, my parents listened to Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and a lot of Motown [music]. I grew up on that stuff too. I really loved The Fugees, Missy Elliot and Timbaland when I was growing up. I was into a lot of Hip-Hop when I was younger, but then I also love artists like Prince and Sting. I remember when I went through this real heavy Biggie phase. I moved on from that to Jay-Z. I listen to so many different styles of music. Ive been influenced by a lot of different genres.
AHHA: So you have an Aunt thats actually a famous singer in your hometown?
Shontelle: Yeah! [laughs] My aunt is Kim Derrick!
“Gimme Some” – Kim Derrick
AHHA: How influential was she in your career?
Shontelle: Very. She used to have me practicing Michael Jackson songs when I was younger and practicing the moves and everything! She was pretty much the only person in my family when I was growing up who was encouraging me to do music. My parents and the rest of my family, for the most part, were old fashioned. They didnt think that music was a viable career and it was too risky. They were scared of all the things that I might be exposed to. They werent that keen on it, but [my aunt] would be the one to push me. She was really crucial as far as keeping me motivated and keeping me wanting to do music.
AHHA: How supportive is your family now that youre signed and have an album out?
Shontelle: My parents are very excited and very supportive for sure. This started even before I got signed. Before all this happened, I wrote a song called Roll. I was really doing well at home and at that time I had proven to them that I could still balance school and still do music. They were worried that I would drop out of school or that I wouldnt care about school anymore, so I think they started to feel more comfortable by then. Now they understand that I made up my mind that this is what I wanted to do. Theyre 200% supportive now.
AHHA: What was it about music as an artist that was so appealing to you than you staying at the University of the West Indies studying Entertainment Law and taking it somewhere?
Shontelle: I just had this thing. I had to watch Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and anything that was musical and that had singing into it.
Then I remember watching The Little Mermaid and I could relate to how in the movie she always has to try to go against her father and it reminded me so much of my situation, or your family wanting you to do one thing and you want to do something else.
It didnt help that she had Sebastian the Crab and he was West Indian. [laughs] I could really relate to all the songs and thats when I really started to tell myself, You know what? I think I want to do this. I cant do anything else. I just cant.
I would find ways no matter what it took. Even all the way when I was still in school I would lie to my parents all the time. I was the opposite of other kids. Where kids would say, Im going to the studio or Im going to study so they could go to the club, I would tell my parents, Im going to the club or Im going to a sleepover and Id be in the studio. I didnt want them to know I was working on music because they would tell me, No. I just did anything, anything that I had to do. I couldnt help it.
AHHA: Lets talk about Shontelligence. You have your hit single T-Shirt which is a Pop song. It shows your diversity since you have that Caribbean element. Was that a conscious decision?
Shontelle: That was a very conscious decision. When I first met SRC, they originally wanted me because I was a songwriter. They kind of put me on the spot one day, brought out a guitar and said, We really think youre one talented artist. First we couldnt make up our minds what direction we were going. At first I was going to be a female Sean Paul or maybe be a female Collie Buddz or a female Damian Marley. It was going to be a lot more Reggae and songs from the islands, but then I started telling them, I have more than that. Why dont you give me a chance to just showcase everything that I can do?
They were actually cool and they let me do it. We started working on different songs and thats when everyone started to get really excited that I was so versatile. It made me think of some of my favorite artists that I look up to like Wyclef and Lauryn Hill where they could do the mainstream sound and they could also flip it and give you a little West Indian flavor here or there. I thought if they could do it, I could definitely do it, so why not give it a shot.
AHHA: How hands on were you on your project?
Shontelle: Oh yeah! I was really hands on with my album. Actually, there are only three songs on the album that I did not write. All the others I either wrote or co-wrote. I was very hands on for sure.
“Roll It” – Shontelle
AHHA: What do you want your audience to get out of your music?
Shontelle: What I would love for everyone to get is that my music is very real and I put a lot into it. Its a feel good album. You can bet that everything you hear on the album is all my thoughts. Its everything Im feeling, its my experiences, its all me. I think its an album thats really enjoyable because different age groups can relate to it.
There are songs on there for the club, there are songs on there for when you feel bad and you just want to mope about something, theres feel good songs like Battle Cry and songs that empower women like Superwoman and Roll also. Those are the things that are real important to me and Im glad I got the chance that I got to do all of that on my album. Its such a versatile and dynamic album that I think it will appeal to so many people. I just know people are going to enjoy it. Its very edgy.
AHHA: Has anyone ever told you that your style is similar to Rihannas?
Shontelle: Ive heard people say that they think that our style of music is similar, but I dont really know how to respond to that. There are so many Pop artists, R&B artists and Hip-Hop artists and you can make all the comparisons that you want. I think our music is very different. I think we are two very different artists. Our styles of delivery are very different. I think if people actually take the time to explore my music then theyll be able to see that theres a difference.
Both of our styles are really greatno, I dont think that there are that many similarities. Maybe its our accent and the way we pronounce words. Pop is Pop. R&B is R&B. Theres always going to be comparisons. I guess when youre new thats what happens. There will always be comparisons until you solidify yourself and establish yourself. So hopefully one of these days some new artists are going to be compared to me.
“T-Shirt” – Shontelle