04 Jan ANGELINA SHERIE CONQUERS FEARS AND CULTIVATES INSPIRATION WITH POWERFUL DEBUT EP, GLIMPSE
You can’t fake or force inspiration. It has to come from a place deep inside yourself, a place that you yourself might not be all too comfortable with. That’s why when someone dares to expose that place, that vulnerable place, which holds their fears and hopes, their challenges and dreams, it can be breaking and brilliant all at once. I don’t mean breaking in the sad sense, but in the necessary sense – when our emotional wounds fully heal, we’re stronger than we were before. And that’s exactly what Angelina Sherie’s powerful debut EP did for me. It spoke to me in a profound way. It made me question myself. It left me feeling tenacious. Glimpse will ENGAGE you. (Listening links provided below.)
The message in the music is only one face of its multi-faceted beauty. Angelina’s musical prowess shines through each of the tracks, from the control and range of her voice to her mastery of and oneness with the violin. My personal favorites are “Glimpse”, which ends flawlessly in spoken word and, “Done Yet”, which is like a call to arms to fight for your beliefs and your future. (All seven songs are addressed in detail by Angelina in the Q&A.)
In this interview, you’ll learn: when and why the violin chose her; how she found her identity as an indie singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer; what obstacles she’s faced along her journey; the meaning behind all seven songs on the Glimpse EP; why she loves live performance and interacting with fans; what advice she has for new musicians and artists alike; how skilled she is at Dance Dance Revolution; which television show recently featured her; what musicians (new and known) are in heavy rotation in her playlists; and a little bit about what’s to come.
The conversation from our interview is chronicled below in a pure Q & A format.
Q & A:
When did you first fall in love with music? And when did you start creating your own?
Angelina Sherie: My mother was a singer and my father was a rapper, so I fell in love with music when I was super little. At four years old, I would sit in the studio watching my parents sing. I loved being in that environment – seeing them write and pursue their artistic dreams. I thought it was really, really, cool. My mom is Haitian and my dad is Jamaican, so I had a lot of different cultural music around me. My family is also from New York, which exposed me to a lot of hip hop, reggae, and other sounds that ultimately shaped my love for ALL types of music.
I started singing at four years old. When I was eleven years old (in the fourth grade), I had the option to be in chorus, orchestra, or band. I ultimately chose orchestra. At that time, I was deciding between the violin and the flute. Both of those instruments sounded so pretty to me. I picked up the violin, because it sounded like a singing voice, a beautiful melody. It drew me in. Without words, the violin can express emotions of happiness, sadness, and love. The ways in which the violin can be expressed can just make you want to cry.
I really think that my picking up the violin in the fourth grade was a God thing. The violin chose ME. Now that I’m a violin teacher and experience the joy of teaching kids how to play, I believe this all the more firmly. While some of the students are into it, not all of them are – their parents try to encourage them to keep up with it. When I was eleven, my parents didn’t believe that I was actually going to play. They kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to. They literally bought me the instrument to prove to me that I wasn’t going to pick it up. They never told me to practice, but I picked up the violin and never stopped playing. I NEVER gave up. I just kept going, ever since the fourth grade. I was so determined to learn it – to play the songs I heard on the radio, to play by ear, and to play and sing at the same time. I had that zeal to keep going.
All the while, I was playing in more orchestras and singing also. The first time I decided to put my two loves, playing violin and singing, together was in my eighth grade talent show. I sang a Whitney Houston song and played a violin solo right afterwards. My classmates were like, “Whoa;” and, I thought, Okay, this is me. This is really me, and I REALLY want to do this.
In high school, I began teaching violin as a side job. I lived in Alpharetta, and I would participate in talent shows there. It reached the point that I wanted to branch out, so I began traveling thirty minutes to Atlanta to perform at open mics. I’d sing a cover song and then play violin. It all sprung from participating in open mics to being asked to be featured, where people bought tickets to come see me. People started to notice me. I think what set me apart was my playing the violin. And I think, at that point, I became somewhat of a brand – ‘that singer violin girl’.
I booked more shows and met more producers. Producers wanted to see how my sound would translate onto record. I started that journey when I was about eighteen or nineteen. I began recording music, but I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to sing about. I wanted to define my message. I went through a soul search to figure it out – What do I want to sing about? What is my voice? I gravitated towards powerful artists like Celine Dion, Lauryn Hill, and Whitney Houston. I love songs that hold a deeper meaning and greater message. Being drawn to those artists helped me realize my own identity as an artist and the type of music I wanted to create. From there, I focused on refining my process and building my catalog. Then, this album came about, and that’s where I’m at now.
Let’s talk about your debut EP, Glimpse. Can you tell us something about each of the seven songs on the EP as well as address the EP as a whole?
Angelina Sherie: The whole Glimpse album is about identity – who you see yourself to be. I believe each of us has that glimpse of who we’re striving to be, and who we want to be. That glimpse is what gets us up every day, and pushes us to work hard and pursue the version of ourselves we know we can be. That’s what this album is all about – the journey of going there. A lot of the time, it isn’t easy. You face a variety of obstacles that can deter you, such as: criticism from other people saying you can’t do it; feelings you may fall victim to on your own, like self-criticism, self-doubt, and lack of faith; and/or other situations. All of these can stand in the way of you reaching that glimpse. They can make you lose your confidence in where you’re headed.
“Glimpse”, the first song, starts out talking about my glimpse of what I see – “The girl that always knew her worth. The girl that always knew what she wanted in life, so she wouldn’t have to go through all the pain of trying, falling, failing a million times. The girl that’s always organized, and moving without thinking twice. The big role model every girl wants to look up to that wouldn’t become a disappointment in the end.”
I’m describing a girl that lives in the midst of her voice and violin without any other cares in the world. This is the girl that I see myself to be. So, I’m talking about that vision, but now I ‘m patiently waiting for that time. It’s complicated, but that journey has just started. I’m striving to get there. This song is saying: lead me to that place where I can see that glimpse clearly without all this complication – without all of the things that are keeping me from it.
“Stop & Stare” is about that initial part of the journey. It opens us with, “Stop and Stare. What do you see? Can you even see me?” We live in a world that’s so full of superficial things that people see as significant, like Facebook likes and material things – money, cars, clothes, celebrity status, and who you hang around with. This track also came from my realizing artists are often materialized and used to sell things. There are so many artists now that have to sell sex in order to sell records, even when that’s not who they are. Too many people are focused on the outter, what you have, and not on the inner, your character.
That’s what “Stop and Stare” addresses. “Can I put the walls down and really be myself?” When you look at me, you can see the outer, but do you really see ME? What makes up me? That’s important. On my Instagram, I put up a video where I was singing this song In New York City, and people are walking right past me like I’m invisible. You know, I didn’t even have to cast this video. It happened just as I thought I would, and that’s the real meaning of the song. (Watch the clip now.) The official full-length music video for “Stop and Stare” will be released soon. (MMM will let you know once it’s live.)
“Can’t Find Myself” talks about my personal journey of how I was caught up in the wrong crowd and did some uncharacteristic things. I acted like a rebel, and I didn’t like who I had become. I couldn’t find myself, because I allowed the things I was involved in to change who I was. “When the smoky mirrors fade, I call it a crisis, and who I used to be is barely surviving. Going on a journey, and I can’t find myself. I gotta find myself.”
There was a point where I realized that I had the power to change myself, and that I shouldn’t blame the world for changing me. No matter what, I had the power to be myself. My identity wasn’t in those people and in those situations, but, rather, in the person who created me. “Can’t Find Myself” came from my personal experience – being on a journey, falling off, and getting back on track.
“Evergreen” is a symbolic song in which a huge willow tree is speaking to a boy who’s lost. The tree tells the boy to lay his cares on him: “I’m green like the meadows, I’m strong as the mountains, I’m old as the river is long, and tonight you don’t have to be alone. I’m yours.”
This song sprung from the journey of my not being able to find myself, and asking God for help. I was dealing with so much regret and so much shame, and that song envisions God as an everlasting tree telling you that you are loved. You don’t have to carry the weight of what you have been through, because the willow tree can carry it for you. Really, it’s about leaning into God, realizing who he is, and trusting him because of it.
“Don’t Have” is a celebration. It’s defining the sacrifice of what love is – not so much thinking about yourself, but thinking about others. “If you’re nice to those who only give to you, does that mean something? Or would it be better to fight for those who have nothing?” It’s a simple but selfless message that says: “You don’t have nothing if you don’t have love.” I just released a video for that song on YouTube – it’s the first full-length video from the EP. (Watch the video now.)
“Where Are You Now” addresses a time in my life where I was looking for love in the wrong places. The song is a letter to love – “I try to run. I try to find it for myself, like I’m the one. But, love it needs no help…love will find you. Someday, somehow, it’s going to find you.”
It’s about people who either feel like they’re unworthy of love OR like they haven’t been treated with love in the past. The song is saying that love will be right on time. It never really left, but sometimes you have to be knocked down to realize it was there all along. And you’ll appreciate it more. It’s a message of encouragement. Don’t give up!
“Done Yet”, the last song, states that as long as you are still alive, you’re not done yet. It’s for people who feel they’ve given up or feel like they can’t get out. It’s asking you to keep fighting, to pick up your armor. You’re still in this race, and you still need to fight it. “If this is war, why are you hiding? You made your home there in the dark, would you let the light in? If this is war, why aren’t you fighting? Lift up your head, ‘cause you ain’t done yet.”
I’ve known people who have been faced with cancer and other extreme circumstances, and you have to fight them. You have to make a decision to fight sickness, to fight for your marriage, to fight against addiction, and to fight whatever your challenge might be. You can do all things if you just believe.
As a whole, I see the Glimpse EP as a real accomplishment. Before its release, I had amassed a catalog of about a hundred songs that I never put out. I had created with so much non-direction. Because of that, I recorded all sorts of different songs. None of them seemed to fit together. Once I had my vision to focus this album on identity, and I put these seven songs together, I felt a weight lifted.
I’m excited to relay that my EP release concert went really well, too. I honestly didn’t know how it was going to be or how many people would show up. Two hundred people attended, and the venue capacity was one hundred and fifty! I’m floored that so many people came out for it. This was the very first time I had ever done this, and I realized that this is something I can really do with my life. I’m blessed by the amount of support I’ve had, and I’ll continue to keep pushing for more opportunities.
As a singer/songwriter, violinist, and producer, what is it like to create a song from scratch, see it to completion in studio, and then perform it onstage?
Angelina Sherie: Each song on the EP was produced a bit differently. For example, “Glimpse” was a song I had previously created two and a half years ago. Initially, it was an acoustic song – just me and a guitar. I later decided to take it into another direction and put an urban flare to it. That’s the version you hear on the EP – the remix.
“Stop & Stare” was a track that I had written on my own in my room with my violin at 3AM. My creative juices flow a lot in the nighttime. I brought it to my Producer and we started creating it by adding piano and violin to the mix. Some of the songs came from an idea I had on my own. Others came from being in the studio, hearing things, and creating from there.
When I get onstage to play a song for the first time, I get excited. You realize, since it’s your song and it comes from you, there is no way you can mess it up. The audience is hearing it from you, and you can express yourself however you want to. You know, that’s why I love artists like Sia, because they don’t mind singing their songs in different ways. You can break the rules and sing the bridge first if you want. You can start a trend with being YOU and making the song yours. Being onstage is a way to show yourself and your originality. It’s an exciting moment! I’m always nervous at first, but the excitement always takes over.
How would you describe your current sound?
Angelina Sherie: I would say that the sound is very melodic – you can sing along. The songs have a catchy beat. The music brings you on a ride between pop and urban. My sound can also have a country or acoustic feel.
How do you prepare yourself to perform onstage?
Angelina Sherie: For my EP release, I had several rehearsals with my band, string players, and background singers. When we came together before a show, we would say a prayer before we went out. We wanted to bring a message of encouragement, inspiration, and refreshment of hope. That was our goal; and, that agenda is what helped us invest our whole hearts into it. It wasn’t just performing songs, but also preparing for that experience. That preparation process is important. The order of the songs is important. It’s all meaningful.
I definitely need to drink water before I go onstage. I cannot have any hot drinks before performing, because it makes my throat dry. Sometimes I have peppermints or honey, and I always do vocal warmups, which are so important. I have an awesome vocal coach I warm up with, and her name is Ametria Dock. She’s India.Arie’s vocal coach, Janelle Monáe’s vocal coach, and she coaches so many other incredible artists. She’s really helped my range skyrocket. She’s shown me how to sing the right way and how to persevere.
Of all the venues you’ve played at, which one was most memorable and why?
Angelina Sherie: As far as most memorable venues, I have to talk about two. First, the EP release venue, The Bassmint. It’s in Atlanta – a really nice space where you can see the stage and all the lights. It’s perfect intimate performances. It was my most memorable, because people came to see me perform my own songs, and not just covers. I had a ballerina dancer as well as a spoken word artist onstage with me. The second venue I have to mention is Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, where I performed with Ken Ford, a famous electric violinist. It’s a big theater in Atlanta, which holds massive amounts of people. Ken and I were jumping around and playing Top 40 hits. And just that I was able to meet Ken in person, practice with him, perform with him, and learn under his wing was incredible. Those were some of my biggest crowds as a violinist and singer.
Who or what keeps you moving forward? And how do you challenge yourself?
Angelina Sherie: What keeps me going is that I believe I was called to make music for a purpose. The reason why I want to be in music is not about winning a Grammy or about reaching a number one spot, but more so to reach the hearts and souls of people. I feel like that’s my purpose, and music is the tool that lets me express these things. I want to portray faith, love, and hope – things that help with the inner. I want to cater to that part of the industry. Wherever that takes me, I am good with that. It’s not about me selling myself short to make money. It’s about something deeper for me.
We need other types of songs to help with broken hearts, to help find light in different situations, and to find out who we are. I feel like I’ve been assigned to speak to the people who are not being helped by the status quo type of music. There’s a need for soul replenishment and for seeking your identity just as much as there’s a need for anything else.
With all the current events, we need encouragement. The world can feel so one-sided sometimes. That’s what keeps me getting up every morning. That I have a purpose to spread that message though music. You are enough. You are valued. You are beautiful. It’s never too late to live your dream. Don’t chase someone else’s dreams, because too often people only provide you with the highlight reels of their lives. Be yourself, stand your ground, and follow your course.
In the past couple of years, I knew I wanted to create an album and have a concert. I really wanted to release music, but I knew the timing wasn’t right yet. I had to be patient. Now, I know why my Glimpse EP came out when it did and not years ago. Sometimes, you have to keep building your talents and growing in your roots, so that when the time really comes you’ll be ready. I needed a lot of pruning and a lot of growth. I wouldn’t have been able to speak with you like this back then. I didn’t have a purpose, but I do now.
Can you tell us any stories related to your journey as an artist?
Angelina Sherie: Yes, I just had my very first TOUR ever in my life. I received a call to open up for Propaganda, who is LA-based, and Joseph Solomon, who is Texas-based. Even though my album wasn’t released yet, I performed my music on tour from March to May. I had a two month run in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Canada. As the opening act at packed, sold out venues, I was able to experience singing MY music as Angelina Sherie. I also had the opportunity to sell shirts and CDs, which was awesome.
Being on that tour was such a blessing, because I didn’t see it coming. I was literally in the process of finishing my music. When the touring company called me, they told me they wanted a girl on this tour, and that they had received so many referrals for me. So, I started the journey, and did it for two months.
Every show was memorable. The amount of love and support was unbelievable. I would open up with “Evergreen” then perform “Done Yet” and end with “Stop & Stare” – I performed those three songs every time. I wasn’t able to have my band with me on tour but they created show tracks for my songs, and the audience responses were amazing. The group in Canada was my favorite – they were so alive, jumping up and down. Miami was supportive, too, because there are a lot of Haitians out there. I built more than two thousand additional social media followers from that tour.
People came up to me at the end of the show to buy my merch and meet me. The shirts say, “Can you even see me?” which is in the design of an eye chart. People told me they were changed – that they cried during the music. They told me they saw the beauty in themselves, they saw their worth, and their hearts were touched. I heard those comments after every venue, and they meant the world to me.
The tour was an awesome opportunity, and I gave it my all every time. I couldn’t believe I was actually experiencing it as an independent artist. Propaganda is a huge artist, and the fact that I was an indie artist opening up for someone like him blew my mind. We missed a lot of sleep, but I didn’t mind it. I would do it all over again. I loved it, and hope to do it again as soon as I can. To see the fruits of your work in person and on social media is the greatest blessing. People who met me on tour are still reaching out to me and supporting me. This experience was a big part of my career, and I can’t wait for more opportunities like this one.
How do you overcome negative feedback?
Angelina Sherie: I’ve come a long way in my career to be where I am now. I’ve had managers in the past. People saw my talent, wanted to lock me in, do things on their terms, and reap a financial benefit from my talent. I had a label that wanted me to become Latina, learn Spanish, act like I’m Latina, play clubs in Miami, and be a Latina artist.
Then, I had another manager that didn’t understand why my music needed to be about God, and about a positive message. I said, “But this is who I am.” He wanted me to be more edgy to sell more and land a bigger deal.
Another label thought I was awesome, but didn’t think I had enough social media followers to actually sign me. Sometimes, the negativity can make you feel insignificant. I thought – So, if I SUCKED, but I had a lot of followers, this could have worked out? I felt invisible, and that’s exactly where “Stop & Stare” came from. I was pushed to the side, because someone saw my potential but I didn’t have thousands of followers. That made me feel discouraged. I saw why some people buy followers – I don’t want to do that. I want to be authentic.
The upside to all of this is that now I really know who is on my team. You see who believes in you from the beginning, and who supported you when you were unwilling to compromise.
Do you have any advice for new musicians?
Angelina Sherie: I do. I would tell them this: turn everything off. Spend some time with yourself and really think about the things you are drawn to the most, and how those things make you feel. Those are the subjects you should focus on. Whether it’s about darkness, relationships, happy time, or anything else, set aside some time to write about it and let the melodies flow.
As an artist, you have the ability to paint whatever picture you want. Take away the noise of everything, and write about what’s in your heart. Take away people’s opinions and what’s trending, and write the melodies as they come out. From there, you’ll start to see who YOU are and stick to that. People will latch onto that. No one else can give what you have to offer. What you have is what someone else needs, what only your gifts can bring.
This advice applies not only to musicians, but also to any type of artist. Your art will speak to people like no one else’s art can. Everyone has their own identity with their art. If you can sit alone and find that identity without conforming, you’ll be true to yourself and create what you are meant to.
What was the last song you listened to on repeat? What artists have been in heavy rotation for you lately?
Angelina Sherie: Yebba is amazing. She just released a new song called “Evergreen”! It’s really cool that we both have a song named “Evergreen”. Our songs have totally different meanings, but both are powerful and inspirational. I absolutely love her.
I’m also listening to Adele and Hey Violet, and violinists like Jean-Luc Ponty. I listen to lots of different artists, like Lauren Daigle, Sia, Jon Bellion, Brandy, and Tori Kelly.
What do you want your fans to know about you?
Angelina Sherie: I love to make origami paper swans. In fact, I’m a beast at making them and used to participate in swan making contests. I love Dance Dance Revolution. I can do all the jump tricks and turn around. It’s my favorite game, and I’ll play for hours. I love to hula hoop and dance. I also play the drums and can dabble on keys.
I like to act, too. I was in the new TV show Dynasty – I was the featured violinist in one of the episodes. I had a two day shoot, where I was playing violin at the main character’s party outside. It was so cool! I’ve never had my own trailer or been in a situation like that. I had hair and makeup with the main actors. I’ve done extra work many times, but that was my first feature.
We know you JUST released the Glimpse EP, but I’m already hooked and have to ask: What are your future plans?
Angelina Sherie: I’m currently looking for more tours to be a part of for this EP. I want to keep creating new music, but I really need to continue pushing myself out there. Right now, I’m still introductory. People don’t know who I am yet. I want to build more of a following, so that the next time I do release something it has the potential to be on the charts with known artists. I’d also love to play festivals like South by Southwest, and perform in front of larger crowds. I’ll be releasing more music videos, too, so be on the lookout for those.
Shout-outs: Are there any people you would like to thank and / or draw our attention to?
Angelina Sherie: I’m definitely grateful to have the support from my whole team. Each of them contributes to my brand and my music, and I’d like to recognize each of them.
Management: Adrian Florence & Tanesha Wiley
Cedric Ivory, Tedy P, Jimi Cravity, Sean Hamilton, David Ballard, Douglas Whatley, Prem Midha. Alex Plummer, Brandon Thomas, and everyone who has helped with production.
Jason Serano (EP artwork), JT Henson (t-shirt designer)
(WEtheProducer) Cerod, Darius, Rashad, Konner, Bryce
Singers: Adrianna, Emmanuel
Make-up artist: Britney Monet
Hair: Dallas Christopher
Stylists: Wintter Alex, Sudi Style
HUGE THANK YOU to those who have supported me from the beginning, and to everyone who has been a part of the process. I’m so GRATEFUL for all of you. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. And I’m ready to keep on pushing.
Connect with Angelina Sherie:
Listen to the GLIMPSE EP:
Watch Angelina’s “Don’t Have” Music Video:
Listen to Angelina Sherie’s Spotify Playlist: