‘No Man Owns My Music'
Marie Claire South Africa|October 2018

SoulfulhitmakerSHEKHINAHspeaks her mind on fame,the challenges faced by women in the music industry, and her debut album ROSE GOLD as a metaphor for the pursuit of perfection

Afika Jadezweni
Growing up, Shekhinah Thandi Donnell (who goes by simply Shekhinah now) was an avid listener of the generation-spanning iconic voices of the ’90s and early 2000s – Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Madonna, Cher, Britney Spears and the late Amy Winehouse are among her musical influences. Now, 23 years old and an award-winning standout in the entertainment industry, she still cites Amy as one of her biggest vocal and performance inspirations because of the atypical nature of the Londoner’s talent, with which she identifies. It’s not surprising, then, that when South Africans were first introduced to Shekhinah’s golden pipes in 2012 at an Idols SA audition, she was singing Amy’s version of ‘Valerie’.

ENTERING IDOLS AT A YOUNG AGE WAS INTENTIONAL

‘I didn’t really know whether singing was something I wanted to do, so doing Idols early helped me find my passion,’ she says. ‘I didn’t know it as my passion until I did the show. So once I was there and once I didn’t make it, I realised this is something I want to make something of. It was really important for me, at a young age, to try doing the competition to kind of see where I stand.’ It’s human nature to feel dispirited when you luck out of a race you envisioned winning but, for the then 18-year-old Shekhinah, not taking home the prize added much-needed fuel to the fire that has been blazing since ‘Back to the Beach’ – her and fellow contestant Kyle Deutsch’s award-winning ode to coastal nostalgia and homesickness for their home town – which topped radio charts in 2015. ‘Coming from Durban and not really [understanding what happens behind the scenes in showbiz] along with interviews and highlights’ is what made her want to cement the foot she already had in the door, she says. ‘Idols shows you everything and then it takes it away from you when you don’t make it, so you start fighting hard to get it back.’ And so began Shekhinah’s upward trajectory in the music industry. She never stopped fighting for the feeling of importance this international show franchise granted her momentarily. She doesn’t begrudge the outcome of the competition – in fact, she expresses sincere gratitude and believes that without Idols SA she wouldn’t have known which dream to reach for or how hard to push for success.

IT’S NOT ABOUT FAME. IT’S ABOUT THE MUSIC

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