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Shawnee Dez Finds Her Umbra On Debut Album

Written by on May 17, 2023

Preparing for her May 18 performance at Lincoln Hall, Shawnee Dez stopped by the Vocalo studios to chat with morning host Bekoe and WBEZ’s Taylor Faye Nazon about the show, her debut album Moody Umbra and her growth from a music artist to entrepreneur. 

Since her last conversation with Vocalo in 2019, Shawnee Dez has been busy crafting her debut album, Moody Umbra. Attributing the album’s name to the definition of “umbra,” the inner-region of a shadow, and to the social and emotional work she has done in her personal life, she says this album allowed herself to make peace with heavy emotions and turn them into art. Influenced by Thom Yorke’s soundtrack for 2018 horror film Suspiria and dark-toned music, the album dives deep into the complexity of Dez’s emotions.

“Our shadow is always with us,” Dez said. “Sometimes you got to turn around and look down at your shadow and give it space to breathe.”

Shawnee Dez in-studio with Bekoe and WBEZ’s Taylor Faye Nazon. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio.

While it has taken her almost three years to create her debut album, Dez has always had the support of her friends, collaborators and, most importantly, her family. WBEZ’s Taylor Faye Nazon, a longtime friend, recalls how supportive Dez’s family has always been throughout her career. After giving them a shoutout on-air she delved into how her mom and grandmother both continue to build community around them. 

“My mom has been very diligent in shaping my sisters and I to be a support system for each other,” Dez explained. “I don’t think I would be doing music in the way I am doing it if I didn’t have them as my support system.”

RELATED: Shawnee Dez Loves To Stay Open With Herself And Her Fans

Getting ready to celebrate the album’s release with an audience at Lincoln Hall on May 18, she noted she hopes to create an atmosphere where listeners can feel the music and be present in the moment. 

“I’m really just trying to usher in a way where we can really come together and share space intentionally.” Dez described. 

During her conversation with Bekoe and Taylor, Shawnee Dez broke down several songs on the album, discussed her organization Black JoyRide — which is hosting a South Side community bike ride on May 20 — and how her family has prepared her for a life as an entrepreneur. 

Shawnee Dez at Vocalo, posed in front of the station’s Sentrock mural. Morgan Ciacca/Vocalo Radio.

Grab a ticket to Shawnee Dez’s Lincoln Hall performance and stay connected by following her on Instagram. Listen to her debut album below.

Introduction written by Joshua X. Miller

Photography by Morgan Ciocca

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