SHEERA TALKS “WE’RE HERE”, SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTISTIC GOALS 0 198

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.

Give “We’re Here” a listen below and to find out more about Sheera and the We’re Here movement, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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FRANK TURNER PREPARES TO HIT THE ROAD AGAIN IN 2019 0 52

As a hectic 2018 draws to a close, and having recently shared the lyric video for latest single “Brave Face”, which you can check out below, critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Frank Turner is already looking forward to 2019.

Following the release of his seventh studio album Be More Kind, and a world tour which saw him play to more than 200,000 people in the UK, US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, Frank will kick off the new year with a seven date UK arena tour which begins on January 22nd in Birmingham and ends with a show at London’s Alexandra Palace on February 3rd. 

Support for the dates in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Bournemouth, Cardiff and London comes from Jimmy Eat World and Grace Petrie, while Big Burns Supper and Spiegeltent Dumfries will open for him in Dumfries.

Tickets for the tour are available now and you can keep up to date with Frank by following him on Twitter.

JOE MINOSO TALKS THE ‘CHICAGO FIRE’ MID-SEASON FINALE & WHAT 2019 HAS IN STORE 0 89

Having been acting since he was a teenager, Joe Minoso is no stranger to entertaining audiences, but it’s his role as firefighter Joe Cruz on the hugely successful series Chicago Fire that’s brought him to trans-Atlantic attention and earned him a growing army of fans and supporters. With the show airing its mid-season finale tonight, ThisIsTheLatest spoke to Joe about what fans can expect from the exciting episode, the many shows he’d love – and would have loved – to appear in and his advice for aspiring actors.

TITL: What is it about acting and performing that you enjoy so much? Do you still get that thrill and rush that you used to when you first started out?

Joe Minoso: Especially in television, I appreciate that there’s new stuff thrown at you all the time. As an actor, I think you get joy in figuring out the puzzle of being a character that is always evolving… Some days it can feel like you’re dealing with the drudge of any 9 to 5 job. But there are always days, even seven years later, where you can’t help but feel the electricity in the room.

TITL: Have you ever thought about taking up another career, or has it always just been about acting for you? 

JM: I have been acting since I was 15 years old and it’s always been my first love. I’ve recently started looking into directing. But if I weren’t an actor, I would probably be an editor. I think it’s probably the most fascinating part of what we do. It’s amazing how many things get dictated in the editing room.

TITL: What do you think it is about Chicago Fire that keeps fans so interested in the show? What’s its selling point?

JM: I think that family is the one thing that sets Chicago Fire a part, even from the other Chicago shows, and also our blend of action and comedy. First responders, firefighters and paramedics specifically, see some of the most horrific things you could ever see as a human. Because of that, they find themselves goofing off and finding excuses to laugh as often as possible. We strive to translate that on screen with every episode. I think that’s a quintessential part of the show, always being there to make each other laugh in the face of gruesome circumstances.

TITL: What first interested you in the role of Joe Cruz and how have you enjoyed his character arc and development as the show has gone on? 

JM: I was interested in any role that I can get when I got the role of Joe Cruz. I was just lucky enough to be hired. His name was originally Timothy Haze when I auditioned. Once I got the role, they changed the name to Joe Cruz. I would say if the character has evolved in anyway it would be more lighthearted than they originally planned. And maybe less of a ladies man.

TITL: The mid-season finale of the show is today, Wednesday 5th. Without obviously giving anything away, is there anything you can tease fans about what to expect from the episode in general and your character’s part in it?

JM: It’s actually a pretty big episode for Cruz. A girl he’s been seeing pretty seriously is involved in a major car crash. So the episode becomes about the emotional journey for Cruz as he has to navigate whether or not she will survive and also meeting her parents for the first time.

TITL: Any fun stories you can share from set this season? 

JM: I can say that Yuriy, along with my wife, planned a surprise party for my 40th birthday this year. Pretty much everyone from Fire and many people from the other Chicago shows were there. It was an incredible day filled with a treasure hunt, that led me to places from my past in the city. It ended with an incredible party at the Flamingo Rum Club with a Cuban band and dancers and drinks named after me. It really was insanely special.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Shameless, Prison Break and Man of Steel, among several other big projects. Do you have any favourite memories or moments from your time on those sets?

JM: I just think it’s pretty funny when people ask me about Man of Steel and how impressed they are that I worked on that movie. I worked for one day, I am literally a blur on screen in that film. But it was incredible to be on such a big budget set. It was slightly overwhelming to see just how many people it took to take on an endeavor of that size. We were filming a major scene where a building basically falls on a bunch of citizens. I got to work with Laurence Fishburne. Tremendous experience.

TITL: Of the many projects you’ve been a part of, which might you say you’re most proud of? 

JM: Chicago Fire. I’ve had the opportunity to do the most varied work of my career on this show. I think Cruz is a really good guy with a big heart and that’s a lot of fun to play.

TITL: If you could appear in any other TV series, past or present, and not including the ‘Chicago’ group of shows, which would it be and why? 

JM: So many! The Wire, The Office, Breaking Bad, Westworld, Stranger Things, One Day At A Time, and Game of Thrones. I think the main reason for any of them is because they do amazing work in whatever regardless of genres. Whether comedy or drama or action, I consider them the pinnacle of what they do and it would be tremendously exciting to be a part of something like that.

TITL: Away from the screen, you’re involved with many charities and organizations notably Shriners Hospital For Children, the Salvation Army and WWF. How important is it to you that you’re able to give back and help the communities and people around you less fortunate than yourself, and speak out about issues that are important to you? Would you like to see more people in the public eye do the same? 

JM: I recognize that this job has given me something of a small platform where I can highlight causes that are important to me. I think it’s important for anyone who has a means to communicate with a large portion of the world, to be responsible and try to make that world a better place. Anything that I can be involved with that is helping children, or first responders is at the top of my priorities right now. I also recently lost my mother to a battle with cancer. So I have been trying to focus on cancer organizations that are working on raising money and awareness. The way I see it, if you have a pretty good lot in life, you have to reach out and help those who don’t.

TITL: Being on such a demanding show such as Chicago Fire must take a toll, so how do you unwind after a long shoot or hectic filming schedule comes to an end?

JM: My wife and I are big-time homebodies. We love to sit on the couch and either watch TV or listen to music or play board games. I would say during hiatus though, we try and take advantage of traveling when we can. My wife loves the outdoors and has turned me into something of a nature lover myself. we do our best to find waterfalls wherever we can.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone just starting out in the entertainment business? Is there anything you wish you’d been told, or comment/piece of advice you always come back to and reflect on? 

JM: Be true to yourself. Be confident in your art.  Arrive prepared but ready to play. Be a professional but also a friend.

TITL: Are there any other projects in the pipeline you can tell me about? 

JM: Fire takes up a lot of the year but I’ve been meeting with writers about directing something, and I’m currently working on a pilot script with Christian Stolti and Yuri Sardarov. Just laying foundations for a future project.

TITL: Finally then, the holidays are just around the corner, as is 2019. What are your plans for the festive period and what does the new year have in store for you personally and professionally? 

JM: Spending time with the family. And resting as much as possible. I’m excited to have this year over with!  It was a rough year for me personally and I am happy to have the opportunity for a reset. Things feel like they are in an upswing though.  I’m very excited to have recently signed on with Abrams Artist and the opportunities that will bring. I look forward to cultivating a path forward with them and hope to see big things happen in 2019!

The mid-season finale of Chicago Fire airs tonight at 9/8c on NBC in the US and you can follow Joe on Twitter. Header photo credit: Brant Brogan.