Sheila: MizFitz Radio’s April Featured Artist
Written by Kayra Perez on Wed Apr, 2019
Alternative music has always been associated as independent, nonconforming and avant-garde. Over the decades, black musicians have pioneered towards expanding subsets of different genres. The Blues, Rock n’ Roll, and Afropunk are a few to name. Ironically, even with a contribution to so many styles of music, bands that are composed of black members are gems to come across. The time has been long overdue to accentuate a group that finds liberation in performing music that has been deemed “exclusively white”. Meet the band Sheila, a trio composed of black queens taking the stage.
Sha’Air Hawkins (28) is the band’s vocalist and grew up in a lot of places ranging from Belgium, Germany to North Carolina but currently resides in New York. Courtney Tucker (25) plays guitar alongside sister Rhea Tucker (25) who also plays guitar, drums, and bass. They both currently live in Washington DC.
Rhea noted that they all went to George Mason University. They met Sha’Air and said “she was really nice and talked to everybody. We were in a separate band but decided to part ways with the singer. Six months of looking and trying on people to be a singer. We were looking everywhere and it wasn’t looking out.” Courtney later revealed that it was Rhea’s idea to ask Sha’Air to be the singer of the band. Courtney at first thought “there was no way it was going to work out.” Rhea pursued it further by “Facebook messaging Sha’Air by saying hey, we’re in a band looking for a singer. Would you be interested? She messaged the next day and said she would love to but the only thing is I live in North Carolina.” Inquisitive about how that would work, Courtney explained: “ We had our first Facetime rehearsal and it worked out from there.” Sha’Air chimed in to say “there were a lot of times where we had janky wi-fi but then we started having shows together.
According to the all-girl posse, the name Sheila was a random name suggested by Courtney. “We recorded our first album and we still didn’t have a name. We went to the studio and Ben Green (of Blue Room Productions) said we needed a name in the computer. So I said, I don’t know Sheila, it’s a girl name.” The name Sheila may have been picked at random but the band’s music fully intends to defy the odds with an unclassifiable sound. “It has to deal with the type and style that we all listen to. It’s really hard to put a label on it because it doesn’t fit. Rhea added on “Sometimes I don’t like to classify our music. Whatever comes to mind is what we write. If it turns out to be rock then cool.” A plethora of independent artists don’t want to put their music in a certain category and according to Courtney, it’s best to avoid doing so in order to change the sound in a year or so. “People look at you and automatically assume something about you. When we go to shows people see three black girls and have no idea about what’s to come.”
When asked about negative comments or reactions about the band’s appearance it was enheartening to find out “ Since we’ve been around we’ve had a really positive reception. People have really been into it, like oh my god, you’re three black girls doing rock music. That is so cool.” Sha’Air gave insight that “most of the places we performed at are full of white people and white audiences. Even though we’re looking for more black people to perform, it’s interesting that we’re putting ourselves in environments that you wouldn’t see these people on stage. We haven’t had any negative comments at all but the music is good and people feel it so they are looking past what we look like and are actually looking into the music which is amazing.” Sheila is very confident in their abilities. They have a connection on stage that makes it difficult for a male-dominated industry to mask them.
When it comes to being independent, there are pros and cons that every artist faces. “The best part about being independent is having full freedom and control over the music. It’s about writing a song and not having someone say you can’t do that. A con would be not being paid what you’re worth. Some people would say, I’m only going to give you $100 and you have to split it.” When it comes to performances, Sheila has been in venues ranging from a pie shop in DC, a Songbird festival and Afropunk battle of the bands. Sha’Air recollected a time being on stage at a music festival highlighting female bands and local independent artists. “When we were on stage, there were three little girls who were sitting in front listening to our music. It was the most beautiful thing because representation is important. We have a song entitled “We Are” that talks about riding through the night with the breeze in our kinks. It’s cool to highlight our hair in our music and who we really are because of those three curly haired girls dancing to our music.”
The setlist for Sheila consists of originals from their new album “Protect Your Art”. A few covers may come from Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monae along with a tribute to The Cranberries. “Our music has evolved in content because of the way it was produced. We work for the same person, Ben Green. He did both of our albums. Even then, we’ve grown as musicians and talked about way more issues that are pushed to the side. Our new album sounds like you’re telling a story and it’s very personal.” For Sheila, creativity helps them to balance this lifestyle. Individually, overcoming challenges such as lack of motivation, defeat and even writer’s block helps the band gain insight on how they want to succeed in the future to come. Sheila wishes to remind independent artists and fans that: “The worst that someone could tell you is no so don’t be easily discouraged in the beginning. Keep going and keep pushing. Get quality sound recordings and remember to network with other independent artists.
For upcoming shows and events follow Sheila on:
Instagram – @sheilatheband
Facebook – @sheilatheband
Twitter – @sheilatheband
Booking – [email protected]
Website – sheilatheband.org