VIDEO FEATURE & WEB-EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Musician: SHANI ROSE
Music Video: “Stronger Together”
Shani Rose partners with Whole Planet Foundation
Shani Rose is embarking on a new journey which appears to have limitless possibilities. She has partnered with Whole Planet Foundation, and along with another singer-songwriter, Katie Ferrara, they begin “The Road Less Traveled Tour” on March 8 in their hometown Los Angeles. This is a unique tour of free performances at five Whole Foods locations in Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Phoenix and Tucson, with their final performance in Austin—during SXSW.
These two talented rising artists and innovative business women are pursuing their own unique path to success in the music industry. By combining their talents on this tour, they hope to serve as role models and an inspiration to other women looking for alternative methods of achieving success in music and arts. The Whole Planet Foundation’s Musicians for Microcredit mission reflects their personal mission to encourage fellow entrepreneurs to create successful businesses by blazing new and creative paths.
Whole Planet Foundation is a Whole Foods Market foundation that alleviates poverty worldwide where the company sources products. The nonprofit’s mission is to empower the very poor living in developing-world communities with microcredit loans—and the chance to create or expand a home-based business and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. In September 2016, Whole Planet Foundation began funding microlending programs through microfinance partners in the U.S. and across 69 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, supporting 9.5 million people with a chance for a better life. To date, the nonprofit has authorized $71.7 million and disbursed $61.4 million through microlending partners worldwide.
Shani Rose (pronounced Shah-nee) graduated from USC Thornton School of Music, receiving a Masters in Music Education. She went on to be a featured artist at the world famous Universal CityWalk in Hollywood, and headlined the 5 Towers mainstage, where she released her 2013 debut studio album Merry Go Round. After three west coast tours, gracing stages at the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and abroad, Rose achieved notable success for her songwriting—she reached the semifinals and finals in the prestigious Mountain Stage NewSong Contest and Unsigned Only Songwriting Competition.
Inspired by her influences (Adele, Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor and Norah Jones) when she was studying jazz piano, songwriting, and composing at Thornton, she decided to record her music. She honed her craft by combining relatable, heartfelt lyrics with catchy melodies, and that is one of the many reasons she has developed a strong and dedicated fan base. Although she has been influenced by diverse musicians, Rose has a voice all her own—one she describes as “soulful crunch.”
We talked with Shani Rose about “Stronger Together,” her first single from the upcoming EP Lift Off, set for release in Spring 2017. She is passionate about her music, and determined to carve a path of her own. Rose is dedicated to creating her own business model. With her strong lyrics, infectious tunes and captivating smile, there is no doubt Shani Rose will make her mark in the music industry’s new wide-open musical landscape.
SHANI ROSE Web-Exclusive Interview
with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David
How did the idea for “Stronger Together” evolve?
I wrote “Stronger Together” last summer, while I was searching for the right producer and trying to move forward in making my EP, Lift Off. At that time, things weren’t lining up, and I was feeling a little lost with where to start, and just feeling alone in the process. What I realized was that sometimes we can’t do it alone, and it’s OK to ask for help—because two has much more strength than one.
Tell us about your involvement with Whole Foods.
Whole Planet Foundation, the charity organization of Whole Foods, helps alleviate poverty by providing microcredit loans [small loans] to women entrepreneurs around the world—so they can kick-start their businesses. They recently started a new program called Musicians for Microcredit, and late last year I was fortunate enough to begin a partnership with Whole Planet as a Musician for Microcredit. I immediately connected with what they do—the moment I had that first phone call with their team. The thought that I could use my music and passion to give back and to inspire others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams was so fulfilling to me.
How did the Whole Foods Tour evolve?
As we spoke about ways we could collaborate, I came up with the idea to do a Whole Foods tour. Little did I know, my friend and tour partner Katie Ferrara, also had the same idea—she asked me a few days later if I wanted to do a Whole Foods tour with her. It seemed like it was meant to be. So Katie and I joined forces, created a business plan with a budget, and presented it to Whole Planet. They loved it, and ran with it.
What is one of the goals of this tour?
As women in the music industry, and as the industry is changing, I think it’s really important—now more than ever—for artists to find alternative, nontraditional paths to reach success in what we do. With this tour, I hope to inspire other women entrepreneurs—both in the microcredit program and within the music industry—to start their businesses and pursue their dreams.
Tell us about the “Stronger Together” single release.
In addition to the tour, my single “Stronger Together” [released Feb 23], plays a role in my partnership with Whole Planet. The song aligns perfectly with the loan model that Whole Planet uses in their program, which requires loan recipients to form solidarity support groups, making the women in the program truly “stronger together.” This perfect fit of music to model inspired me to make my “Stronger Together” music video in partnership with Whole Planet. This video will be released with the official EP release in May.
What is your creative process for writing songs?
My writing process is constantly evolving, but I usually start with a melodic idea, a lyric line or a title. Then I build on this, adding more lyrics, more melody, and go back and forth until I find the right combination—kind of like adding different colors to a canvas. I also write a song differently if it is for me as an artist or for another artist—or even for a TV/film project.
Tell us one favorite experience where something unique inspired you to write a song.
The song that comes to mind is “Listen to the Music.” A few years ago, a friend’s baby was in the hospital with meningitis, and the family was going through a really rough time. It broke my heart to hear about the situation, and I wanted to do something to help, but didn’t know what because they lived far away. One day while I was driving to work, the melody of “Listen to the Music” popped into my head, and I ended up writing the rest of the song that same day when I got home. I realized that this was the way I could help this baby girl and her family—through music. Later that day, after I sent my friend the voice memo of the song, she said it was the only thing that helped her girl fall asleep that night. That song has since become very special to me, and has also helped me through my own tough times. The baby girl is now almost three years old—happy and healthy.
What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
Tell your story but tell everyone else’s story as well. The way you connect best with your audience is when you write something that’s personal to you, but the listener feels it’s about them too. Keep your ears open. There are stories being told and lyrics being said everywhere around you. Sometimes you just have to listen. And a friend of mine wrote this in an article: Write a lyric that is “tattoo-worthy.” If you could envision someone tattooing this line on their body, then you’ve got a good one.
Who inspired you to write songs?
John Mayer—definitely his lyrics. He finds a way to say the same thing everyone else has said a million times, but in a different way. To this day he is still one of the songwriters I listen to when I need to calm down, decompress and let myself know everything is going to be OK. Also Coldplay, Sara Bareilles and James Morrison, among many others.
Top 5 Musicians who inspired you to become a musician?
John Mayer, Sara Bareilles, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Norah Jones.
What instrument/equipment can you not live without—for writing, recording, performing?
My Casio Privia—I street perform and gig a lot on my own, so I love how it’s so light, and I’m able to still lug it around. It’s got a great sound—and wonderful weighted keys too. I also love the sound of my Martin Guitar, and how it fills up the spaces I play in—no matter how large or small. There’s warmth to it that I love. I love being a TC-Helicon featured artist, and really love their Play Acoustic vocal harmonizer. I started using it to fill out my sound as a solo performer, and it helps me present myself as a sort of one-woman band. I take it along with me to all of my gigs and people are amazed at the quality of the harmonies, and how they sound authentic and real.
What PRO are you with, and how do they help an artist like you?
I’m with BMI. They have acoustic lounge events where I perform. They setup writers with other writers. And they are always a sounding board for my new projects.
What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Continuum (2006)—John Mayer
The Awakening (2011)—James Morrison
The Idan Raichel Project (2006)—Idan Raichel
Songs for You, Truths for Me (2008)—James Morrison
Best advice someone has given you.
My mentor, Chris Sampson, songwriter Cathy Heller, and many others have shared their knowledge with me through the years: Patience and perseverance. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Enjoy the journey.
Best advice you’d like to give upcoming musicians.
Along with the advice given to me about patience and perseverance, everyone’s got their own story and no one in the world will look like yours. Focus on yours, and don’t compare yourself to anyone else’s story. While you’re working hard, make sure you remember why you’re doing music in the first place.
My tour partner, Katie Ferrara, and I will be embarking on “The Road Less Traveled Tour,” stopping at Whole Foods from LA to Austin. We’ll be spreading awareness about Whole Planet’s cause, while performing in alternative venues for alternative audiences. We’ll be culminating the tour in Austin for the SXSW music festival, where we will be playing a few showcases. After the Whole Foods Tour, it’s my EP release, my music video in partnership with Whole Planet Foundation, and hopefully a larger tour as well.
Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube: @ShaniRoseMusic
You can also download the new single for Free: