As the Pop Fusion Gypsy of Lil Wayne’s eclectic label crew of winning artists Young Money, Universal/Young Money songstress Shanell aka SnL is far from the average vocalist. The Atlanta-based singer/songwriter who‟s built a formidable name penning tracks for artists like Ne-Yo, Kelis, Melanie Fiona, Jennifer Hudson and many others has stepped from behind the soundboard and up to the mic with a creative pen and a sultry voice that‟s already proven to rock arena crowds.
Between her latest mixtape, “Shut Up & Listen” garnering 2 million downloads to date, becoming the national campaign face for the edgy women‟s line Married To The Mob as well as developing an ever-growing fan base and quickly becoming a bourgeoning music media darling by the likes of YRB magazine Complex.com, CBS News Entertainment, MTV News, Suite 903/The Fader, Honey Magazine, Obscure Sound, XXL, LP33.TV, AOL Music, and many others Shanell has been more than poised and prepared as she‟s transitioned to her current path in music.
A classically trained dancer in the disciplines of ballet, jazz and modern dance, Shanell began her career in music with a professional edge that quickly garnered her steady work as an in-demand dancer for the music videos of hit artists like Ciara. “On my first audition, I showed up in tights and toe shoes. I was stretching on the wall and everyone else auditioning in sweats and sneakers looked at me like I was crazy. But I wasn’t crazy, I was a dancer.”
Dancing on sets by day and writing songs in-studio by night to the tracks of hit-making producer and friend Bangladesh, Shanell quickly began to make a name for herself as a songwriter. However, it wasn’t long before Shanell would pack up her notepad and pro-tools to head on tour when she was tapped to become one of the principal dancers for Grammy award winning artist Ne-Yo.
While using every free moment on tour to write and record songs for artists and groups like Danity Kane, word of her writing talent continued to spread across Atlanta and it wasn’t long after that the very person she was dancing on tour for would come knocking. Ne-Yo, after overhearing Shanell practicing a song one evening, snagged one of her tracks which became “Say It, “a track on his album Because of You. Needless to say, upon her return from tour, her demand as a songwriter increased as equally as her initial demand had as a dancer.
Inspired artistically over the years by a mélange of artists as diverse as Queen and Mary J. Blige to Prince, Nirvana, Klymaxx and Nas, Shanell began writing a collection of songs that didn‟t stylistically fit the persona of those she wrote for. As this unique collection of songs continued to grow, she decided the best thing to do would be to take the leap and become an artist herself.
“My songs were going left, so they really only fit for me,” says Shanell. “So Bangladesh said,let‟s just keep these songs for you.‟ We did and I put together a demo for myself.” Shortly after, Shanell got the call to dance for Ne-Yo‟s next tour and instead of packing up she declined and shared her decision of becoming a full time songwriter and recording artist.
Putting together an edgy showcase at Atlanta’s local club, The Underground, the news of Shanell becoming an artist brought key music industry taste-makers and heavyweights like Ne-Yo and Usher out to show their support. “Everyone was great and from that point I moved forward full speed ahead,” says Shanell.
While in search of a label home that would give her the creative space for her ,Rock-&-B pop sound, she turned down several record deal offers that she felt didn‟t fit until fellow artist and superstar impresario, Lil Wayne came to her with an offer that wouldn’t artistically box her in. One day in the studio where she brought Wayne the Bangladesh-produced beat she suggested he use for his forthcoming album (and subsequently became the sound for Wayne‟s Grammy-award winning breakout single “A-Milli”), Wayne suggested that she “quit giving away songs, you can do what you’re doing over here.” Lil Wayne, who she’d met while performing on the “Up, Close & Personal” tour featuring the MC, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo, was referring to his burgeoning label, Young Money, an off-shoot of Cash Money Records where the MC housed acts like Nicki Minaj and Drake. Shanell agreed, joined Wayne’s camp and has since been moving full throttle. She recently toured with Young Money in support of their 2009 self-titled album, wrote four songs on Lil‟ Wayne‟s chart-topping, certified Gold Rock/Hip Hop album, “Rebirth,” including the song “Prom Queen,” and gave a smash performance in early 2010 at The Roots‟ annual Grammy Jam in Los Angeles that industry insiders are still buzzing about. Shanell is cur-rently recording her as-yet-untitled debut LP and has a busy touring schedule for spring/summer 2010 beginning which began with a headlining per-formance at the Digiwaxx Media/SXSW 2010 showcase. Describing her style as Pop Fusion, which is a a funky fusion of rock, urban and pop and music, this young lady’s creativity is even expressed through her outfits. Namely, her nose-to-earring chain.
Working with producers like Bangladesh, David Guetta, Salaam Remi, Cool & Dre, Hit Boy and Justus League for her latest mixtape release “Shut Up & Listen,” Shanell draws on her multi-genre inspiration for the Pop Fusion tracks she writes and performs. “I’m developing a sound based on everything I know, I want to fuse everything into one unique sound,” she says.
With ample creativity, an energetic live show, proven pen skills and an ever-growing base of fans across genres, Shanell is quickly making a game-changing name for herself and a refreshing new mark in music today.