Where many fans have voiced their longing for a return to great R&B music, Shay Leonia has emerged. Recognized by a quintessential 1980's hairstyle and funky lipstick color, Shay is obviously not concerned with assimilating to the traditional outline of an R&B artist, stylistically or musically. While her songs do implore the listener to delve into their own experiences with love and life, they invoke a warm familiarity of a time when music made people feel more than surface-level lyricism.
Inspired by an eclectic array of greats from Michael and Janet Jackson to Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Led Zeppelin and even Barbra Streisand, Shay's music manages to pay homage to her predecessors without sounding dated. Initially pursuing a career as a dancer, Shay received a scholarship to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. As she studied to become a "triple threat" in the world of musical theater, she found herself in a unique predicament, leading her to sing on the subway trains for money. "I would sing my favorite SWV songs, and sometimes people would join in and sing along." With the guidance of an acquaintance that believed in her abilities, Shay would discover her calling to create music for people to connect with.
While Shay has nailed down her own unique sound as an artist, she also excels at writing for other artists. "I always love learning from other people's creative processes," says the New Jersey native. "I've worked with so many talented individuals, but being in writing sessions with DJ Marley Marl and Mad Skillz really made me sharpen my pen-game." In between writing sessions, Shay performs with her band throughout New York City, showing off her eclectic taste in the music that has shaped her sound.
Shay is currently working on her debut album while putting finishing touches on several other projects she is tied to. The MUTE Magazine and Slyde App featured artist maintains a driving work ethic, dedicated to giving fans the kind of music that lets them know they aren't alone.
Photographer: Dirty Souf Yankee