Take an portion of Southern Baptist, flavour it with a drop of Brooklyn, stir in a spoonful of Swiss chocolate — and you’ve created a powerhouse singing sensation: Shakura S'Aida, who started off 2008 with a triumph at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, when she earned the 2nd runner-up position, competing against more than 100 bands from more than 20 different countries.
Calling both Switzerland and Canada home since leaving the U.S. when she was eight years old, her professional involvement in the Canadian music scene has been ongoing for the past 20 years, enriching the jazz, blues and classic R&B communities with her soulful voice, enthusiastic personality and commitment to music as an art form. Whether speaking Swiss-German, French or English, Shakura connects to her audience is a way that is ‘simply dazzling,’ at the same time richly demonstrating the “multiculturalism” that Canada prides itself on.
Shakura has taken to the musical stage with roles in such productions as "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Momma, I Want to Sing,” and to the theatre as an actress (the Toronto production of George Boyd’s “Consecrated Ground in 2004). She also carried off supporting roles in film with Sudz Sutherland’s “Doomstown” (2006) and in Frances Anne Solomon’s “A Winter Tale” earlier this year.
As a solo artist, Shakura's career has spanned genres and countries and taken her to some of the most noted stages in the jazz world. She has performed at the Apollo Theatre in New York and has been nominated three times by the Toronto Blues Society as the Maple Blues "Female Vocalist of the Year" (2004/2005/2008); she was also nominated as Entertainer of the Year for the 2008 Awards.
Shakura has also been featured with such legendary artists as Jimmy Smith and Ruth Brown; she’s sung backup with Patti Labelle and Rita MacNeil, and is equally at home singing material with a Ray Charles tribute band, or presenting a one-woman show of the music of Nina Simone. She is a guest vocalist on Bill King and Saturday Night Fish Fry’s "Rhythm and Soul" and the group’s newly-released CD "Dirt Road Blues.”
The release of her debut blues album "Blueprint" earned strong critical applause. The 11-track CD takes listeners on a journey through the blues of the 1940's and 50's and is infused with Shakura's signature voice and sultry interpretation of the music. The album was produced by James Bryan, a member of the popular Canadian rock group, The Philosopher Kings, who also played guitar on the CD, and included a number of special guests including singes Harrison Kennedy, Jackie Richardson and Shannon Maracle, as well as Toronto harmonica ace David Rotundo.