As the issue of gun violence once again rears its ugly head in the United States, singer-songwriter Sheera’s new single “We’re Here” is an uplifting anthem that addresses the matter with powerful, thought-provoking lyrics. She’s also launched the We’re Here movement, a project that gives a voice to the millions of young American people looking and working to make a difference in their country. Sheera spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about the new track, preparing to focus on her education for a while and what she’d like her musical legacy to be.
TITL: When did you first realize you wanted to make music a career and did you ever have any other career plans before embarking on this journey?
Sheera: Ever since I stood in front of the TV singing the Winnie the Pooh theme song, I dreamt of being a singer. Music was always my passion. It provided a catharsis for my own emotions about growing up without a dad in the house. I started writing and performing my original songs when I was asked to write my middle school graduation song. Since then, I have performed in local clubs, my music has been played on top 40 radio stations. I have written about 40 songs to date. I have over 1.2 million downloads/plays of my music on Soundcloud and other platforms.
My greatest interests in song-writing and the broader aspirations within my musical career are to spread awareness and increase compassion about topics sometimes too hard to discuss. I was inspired by the lives of my friends to create songs which described their stories and struggles. My song “Where Are You Now” dealt with the feelings of alienation and isolation that many teenagers experience. This song was written for a freckled boy that I knew since pre-school, whose mother suddenly passed away in 5th grade due to an overdose. “Where Are You Now” ended up being produced by Grammy award winning producers Mike Mani and Jordan Omley who also produced another 4 of my original songs.
Through music I want to give hope. Two examples are “A Better Place” and “One Day At A Time”, produced by multi Grammy Award winner Damon Sharpe, opening a door to shed light on young people struggling with depression. I hope to use music to impact cultural and social change. I also hope my music helps others through their struggles and uplifts them.
TITL: Which artist would you say you’re most inspired by and how does that inspiration come through in your music?
S: I am inspired by Halsey, Charlotte Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Khalid and Blackbear. Halsey is not afraid to make social commentary, she is a rebel. Charlotte Lawrence and Blackbear for their unique sounds. They write about things we all experience, infidelity, anxiety, etc. Khalid because he is all around amazing and Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez are classics.
TITL: Your latest single “We’re Here” protests the ongoing gun violence in the US. How important is it for you to use your platform and status as an artist to address an issue that affects so many, and do you wish other artists would and should do the same?
S: I think we should all use whatever resources we have to make the world safer, where people are treated equally. I think it is time for our country to unite over issues that affect us all. I am very passionate about seeing a change to gun laws to protect innocent victims of gun violence, especially school children.
The recent mass shootings at schools such as Santa Fe High School and Parkland deeply troubled me and all of my friends. It is difficult to feel safe when there is violence all around you. The most recent shooting in Maryland marked the 154th mass shooting in 2018. The US has had nearly as many mass shootings as days in 2018. The number of U.S. students killed in school shootings so far this year is greater than the number of U.S. military personnel who have been killed in combat operations. Nearly 1,300 children in the United States die from gun-related injuries every year. There is something really wrong with a country that will not put laws in place to protect its children. Musicians have incredible power to uplift people. I think we all have a responsibility to give voice to important issues to make the world a better place.
TITL: In line with your new single, where exactly did the idea for the We’re Here movement come from, and do you think if you hadn’t started it, that someone, in time, might have done?
S: The idea for We’re Here came from watching the coverage of all of the recent shootings and wanting to give a voice to stand up and unite to tell the current administration that We’re Here and we want a change made to gun laws to protect innocent people. The first lyrics “We don’t want to be the hunted we’re so tired of being scared” because we are now all so aware of the possibilities of shootings in our every-day worlds. Even this weekend there were several shootings. This is a serious issue that affects us all.
The current administration is doing many things that negatively impact the world my generation will inherit. Alienating our allies, removing critical environmental protections, escalating discord. We’re Here is a voice for our generation to speak out to create a more positive future.
TITL: The movement is helping to give young people a voice when it comes to many issues impacting their lives today. To what extent are you finding the movement empowering people to speak up and out about the things that matter to them? Which key issues, aside from gun violence, are you finding they’re most concerned/opinionated about?
S: I think that other key issues that our generation are passionate about are drug-overdose and drug recovery, depression and suicide prevention, cyber-bullying and immigration. Our generation has unique issues due to social media and the pressures that brings, along with the division in our country today.
TITL: Do you think the movement, and the growing number of young people voicing their opinions, is having an impact? Do you think the likes of government, notably Donald Trump, are, in any way starting to pay attention to the voices of the people, or is there still a considerable way to go before they take much needed action?
S: I hope that Trump is beginning to understand that truth, integrity and alignment with the America’s core values of liberty, equality, diversity and unity are what matters to our generation.
TITL: Music is, and has been, a powerful tool, for many – not just artists – over the decade. Coupled with the power of social media, do you feel like there’s no barrier the two can’t break in the sense that social media and the power of words can, metaphorically at least, move mountains?
S: Musicians are now in an amazing position to influence culture through the distribution of their messages online and through their social media presence. Unlike in the past, important messages can be spread without the participation of large corporations or labels. Music has always inspired change and hope. I think that artists have a great social responsibility to set an example that is not self-destructive but instead lifts people up.
TITL: Away from the movement, what are your own long-term professional and artistic goals? Which venues would you most like to play and which artists would you most love to share a stage with?
S: I hope to keep writing music that matters. The music video for “We’re Here” is going to be a large group of millennials and teens singing together. I’d love to sing this song and share the stage with this diverse group – well-known and unknown – the song was meant to speak for our generation to say “We’re Here” to create a better tomorrow.
TITL: Do you have any upcoming performances you can tell me about?
S: I get to start college this week and for the next few months I will be focusing on my education.
TITL: Finally then, the music world has lost some incredible artists in recent years – most recently Aretha Franklin – whose legacies and songs will live forever in the hearts and minds of those they touched. With that in mind, what would you like your musical legacy to be? If you wanted people to remember you for one particular thing, what would you want it to be and why?
S: I would want to be remembered as someone who wrote honest music. Someone who used my own painful experiences and compassion for others suffering to help uplift and comfort people dealing with difficult situations. I hope my music also inspires people to stand up for what they believe in and to be strong and have hope for a better future.