Vocalo Radio

Chicago's Urban Alternative

Current track



Shelbyy SA Is “The Girl With The Big Voice”

Written by on February 17, 2021

Shelbyy SA is a musician and songwriter hailing from South Africa and now based in East London.

Taking influence from a variety of genres, her unique Afro-Fusion style got her track “LaToya” a spot on our January “In Rotation” playlist. We chatted with Shelbyy about her musical background and how it informs her current sound, and what listeners can hope to hear from her in the near future.

All photos courtesy of the artist.

Could you tell us a little bit about your musical background? Is anyone else in your family a musician?

Growing up, I’ve always been known as “the girl with the big voice.” My friends used to parade me everywhere we went, telling everyone how I sang like Jennifer Hudson. I sang in school choirs, church choir and participated in competitions. Music has always been a part of my family. My mom has a golden voice, she used to be in a Police Gospel Group. They traveled all over South Africa for competitions and I was lucky enough to accompany her. I guess that’s when I fell in love with the thrill of it all. Also, my uncle is a producer.

When did you first decide to pursue music professionally?

I decided to pursue music professionally in 2014, while I was a lead vocalist in an Afro-Jazz group called Afro Fusion. In 2015 we shared the same stage as Ringo Madlingozi and Zonke, South Africa’s biggest artists, at Komani Jazz Festival. I recorded a lot of features and I only performed my songs live, but I never thought of recording them until 2020.

Who was your favorite musician when you were growing up?

It’s hard to pick one artist. I loved Luther Vanross, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Tamia, Brandy, Boyz II Men, K-Ci & JoJo, Whitney Houston, West Life. The list is long.

How has your experience with other musical groups in the past informed the way you approach making music now?

Afro Fusion is a performers’ genre – you actually have to perform it for it to come to life. It’s not like studio music where you can tweak it and make it sound bigger than what it actually is. So Afro Fusion, and warm-body audience, it takes you to a world no other genre can. You have to give every part of yourself to the movement – failing to do so, you will be robbing the audience of a fully-rounded experience, and they will not give you back what you haven’t given them. With that experience under your belt, you can never go back to doing generic music in a way it’s traditionally done. You will always be getting glimpses of that Afro Fusion experience and you’ll always try to relive it in whatever art form you’re doing.

What genres do you feel most influenced by when making music?

Afro Fusion, R&B, Afro-Jazz.

Where did you draw inspiration from when making your new 2020 album Shelby Mixtape?

I’ve never released music before 2020, so naturally I thought of releasing a mixtape just to introduce Shelbyy SA, and to feed my starving fans. I drew inspiration from the team I was working with, producers and featured artists, and a little from my own personal experience.

Who is one artist you can’t get enough of lately, and why?

Shelbyy SA, haha. Honestly, I’m focusing on my growth, I want to perfect my craft without any influence, I want to find my sound, my style and tell my story, my way. It’s all about me this year.

Do you have any future projects listeners should be on the lookout for?

I’m busy working on my first album, it can be expected no later than May 2021, hopefully. All the information will be posted on all my social media accounts.

Check out Shelbyy SA on Instagram and Facebook, and stream Shelby Mixtape below.

More from Vocalo: