We had the good fortune of connecting with Shylah Ray Sunshine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shylah Ray, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
In all honesty; it doesn’t feel like it was a conscious choice. I feel as though I was gifted this voice, this natural ability to sing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been incredibly uplifted by music and singing along to it…so much that it motivated me to pursue a music career despite the many limitations and false beliefs around what I could not accomplish. I had made decisions when very young that would lead me in the direction of it…It was quite organic and its also a really great story that I could tell more in detail another time. But in brief- I think it pursued me. My singing voice has led me to new grounds, got me recognition, made me money and brought me opportunities I didn’t know existed. It showed me the way back to myself, and allowed me to expand the entirety of my creative expression. Singing has healed me in so may ways that there was no real choice in whether I sing, write, perform, record or teach. It just feels like everything I’m really good at, all in one. I always wanted to be a singer, a popstar performer. Never did I imagine I would be coaching others on how to sing and teaching them how to write and develop songs. But what a pleasure it is. Its been the most rewarding part of my musical journey so far. It’s shown me how confident and creative I can be, as well. It continues to push me forward into the next stages of my musical journey and it just makes me smile, honestly. Nothing makes me happier than singing. Its a way of life. And so it must be my career, my art, my passion and purpose.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It all started singing at home. Isolated in my bedroom. I slowly starting to share and perform more as I grew older and my vocal skills sharpened, my stage presence grew and my confidence expanded. I went from open mics to joining a band singing backup, to teaching myself piano almost overnight. I am self taught vocally, on piano and percussion. People cant believe I’ve never had a voice lesson or that I don’t read music. I never studied it like that. I just felt it. I suppose I’m proudest of that. And the fact that I’m a mother and I’ve been raising 2 daughters over the last 15 years while pursuing a music career and coaching full time. Some days I don’t know how I do it- I just do. I live kind of a split life…and I really enjoy them both. Half of my time is spent at home, being a homeschool and voice teacher, making meals in between sessions and rushing around to lessons and errands. The next week I’m either working in LA on different projects or flying out to different cities, teaching workshops, hosting private events and going on vacations. I’m doing what I can to maintain a healthy balance of service and my own happiness. Being creative both at home and on the road. That part is sometimes the hardest; knowing when to slow down, when to hustle and how to manage it all. It’s humbling and has taught me how to ask for help when I need it. I’m getting better at it thankfully. The most important lessons I’ve learned as being an artist is the vision. Keeping that vision clear, as to what I am working towards and applying myself to it, one step at a time. Never stopping no matter what. That means, always writing, always creating, always teaching and having the discipline to do the shit I really don’t want to but do anyway. Because I know my accomplishments are being counted for and will reap rewards. I see the cause and effect. I notice the subtle changes in my field, just by persevering and getting back up again even when I’m experiencing a stagnancy or low creative drive. I want this to rub off on others I work with. That level of excitement I have about singing; I want people to have the same love of something, so accessible and so beautiful. I want the world to know that I am in full favor of a more expressive, authentic and creative collective. a world where we embody who we truly are, and live more authentic lives, telling our truths and having absolutely no shame or guilt in doing so. I names “Soul Voice Singing’ because we can learn to sing from that souful place within us. The point is to establish a deeper bond with ur own voice, learning to love and appreciate int, while being aware of its natural flaws and lack of practice. Anyone can do this work. It’s really quite accessible and even necessary. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to learn how to communicate or sing more effortlessly. It’s that common, its that possible.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would always take someone out to see live music. Especially if its me performing….I’m playin. There’s just nothing else like it. Whether a very intimate gathering of acoustic sounds or a massive production, high energy show. I think I can speak for us all when I say <<<WE MISS LIVE SHOWS>>> So if it’s not live performance, its dancing. When its not dancing, its some hangouts by the fire, hopefully someone brigs a guitar and everyone ends up singing. That’s my favorite (I’m a sucker for harmonies). Eating out is always nice… I love lunch and dinner dates, casual and fancy AF. Heading to the beach for sure. Just relaxing, watching the waves and sunsets. Maybe jumping in too. I’m wild like that. I hike almost everyday so time in nature is crucial! walks, bike rides, rollerblading, soccer in the park, you name it. I LOVE adventure so you’d have to keep up with me. Sounds fun, right? Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I think the most important people in my career I would need to thank and give a shoutout to, is other musicians. The way they have shown up, encouraged me, helped develop my songs, recorded me and played countless gigs (for free!) is how Ive been able to share my music with the world. The dedication and love we have for this art is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It humbles me! My community, my friends and fans have kept me pushing forward and aways striving to better myself. Those people who love me enough to be 1000% honest and hold me accountable when I need it most. My best friends have been my angels. My children have been my teachers. My fans have been a source of personal entertainment and remain my backbone. My listeners, my audience who continuously love everything I do. I cannot thank God enough for that feeling of being seen, held, heard and loved. The feeling of being appreciated for doing the very thing that I love most! The exchange is more than fair. I also need to thank myself for never giving up. Yes, I’m proud.
all photos by Mariana Schulze except photo of me with my children by Brandi Crockett aka fancyfreephotography photo of live performance by Court Winter