Born in Sacramento, CA and to a mixed-race family, the New York-based singer/songwriter Shayna Steele grew up as an Air Force brat, spending time living in Oklahoma and Ramstein, Germany where she spent much of her formative years. But until her family moved to Biloxi, MS in 1985, she never really had a chance to contemplate her racial identity. Unprepared for the criticism and ridicule she received, and feeling awkward and like she didn’t fit in, a young Steele found herself focusing on music, entering and winning a number of pageants and talent shows.
When Steele was 15 she made her first nationally televised appearance on Ed McMahon’s Star Search. After losing by ½ a point, she returned to Mississippi to finish high school and pursue a degree in music, before entering the music industry.
Guided by her jazz musician godfather, her musician father and in gospel by the Grammy-nominated Michael McElroy, Steele also began meshing what she was taught with a variety of influences including Ledisi, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, The Temptations. Rachelle Farrell and others. And when she moved to NYC, Steele was introduced to a number of genres including electronica when she received a call to collaborate on a number of singles with Moby. Of course, a couple of those singles put the singer/songwriter on the map as a solo artist, with a growing profile; in fact, her self-released debut EP caught the attention of the likes George Clinton, The Sugar Hill Gang, Ledisi, Snarky Puppy whom she had opened for, and backed the likes of Bette Midler, Matthew Morrison, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Rihanna, and Kelly Clarkson.
Rise, Steele’s sophomore, full-length effort is slated for a January 20, 2015 release and the album’s first single “Wear Me Down” and the rollickingly, free-wheeling, bluesy single should put Steele on the map as a vocalist everyone should be listening to, right now. The woman can sing – and with a effortless soulfulness. And her backing band plays a sweaty, stomping blues that should make you want to shout and stomp about.