With a voice like no other Shannon, daughter of the famous musician Kumar Sanu, has carved a brilliant spotlight for herself at the age of nineteen in both Hollywood and Bollywood. Bagging awards and accolades her songs touch the hearts of young minds, encouraging and motivating souls to stand up to their true-self. She opens up about the dark phase of her life and how her experiences made her in uplifting others through her songs.
-By P R Gayathri
Tell us about yourself and what also made you kick start your career in music?
“I’m a singer cum songwriter born in India, raised in London and now I’m in LA!” says Shannon who has mastered the art of music from Royal Music of London. She says that music had always been in the environment and she was very much influenced by her dad’s songs. She nostalgically adds, “Though I never thought of becoming an artist as I had a speech defect. I used to lisp, so for me to even speak fluently was good enough. But music had always been my passion and with that, I started to participate in school plays and competitions.”
Describe one lifestyle activity you started during the quarantine that eventually
became part of everyday life.
Having got to spend time on herself away from the busy word Shannon has dived into finding her spiritual self too. She says mindfully, “I had been meditating and giving myself some break from social media and other distractions. I must say that I got a lot of time to get to know my true self.” She amuses on the fact of how refreshing it is to just close your eyes and meditate, something we all could bid by.
Having debuted at the age of four, share some interesting moments of earliest
memories of music that you could recount?
“I remember back when I was a toddler I used to beg dad to take me to his recording sessions. I would just sit there and enjoy the energy in the room.” Shannon recollects with a smile. She adds, “I loved the sound booth and I still remember the specific smell of the room which was decorated with wood and velvet.”
What role do you think your father plays in your musical journey right now?
The father-daughter duo has been popular in the field of music and Shannon elegantly credits her father as her inspiration. She says, “Since my music is quite different from his style, my dad mainly helps me to prepare for a recording by giving me tips and advice. He respects my ground as an artist and allows me to not be overwhelmed by his knowledge which is a big relief because I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t as good as him, I wouldn’t ever be good in general. He helps me to understand that I don’t need to sing like him but sing as best as I can.”
Who inspires you to continue with what you are doing now?
“My family, friends and fans are the ones who always inspire me to continue with what I’m
doing. They are the reason why I’m here and I honestly don’t know where I would’ve been if I
didn’t have their support and love.”, says Shannon humbly.
Journeys have ups and downs but it's always important to rebound back. How have
you managed to turn the touch times into lessons of life to rock again in your career?
“My journey started from the moment my parents adopted me. From there, growing up was a bitchallenging especially in an environment that was filled with people who treated me differently tomy sister just because I was adopted and a bit darker than the rest of my family. I remember receiving so many skin lightening creams from people. I was too young to understand these remarks.”, Shannon remembers.
Being bullied at school and mocked at for her lisp, She grew up being an introvert. Having
started her career in music at an early age, the amount of hate and trolls spread on social media affected her both mentally and emotionally. She says, “I didn’t know how to handle the situation as I was just 14 and every single comment made a massive impact on me. All those hateful comments made me doubt myself and I thought I made a mistake to start a singing career and this field wasn’t meant for me.”
The sensitive heart of hers made her think that she had let her father down instead of making
him proud. Self-doubt and negativity surrounded her during this phase and she mentions it was extremely hard for her to get back on her feet and continue to battle. She explains, “ I got to the point where I self-harmed and I just wanted to be hidden from everyone and everything. I felt as if I failed a massive exam. I was in a dark place that felt like years for me. I remember crying every second and getting frustrated about the tiniest things. I didn’t want to face the daylight due to depression.”
She credits her family and friends for pulling her out of that black hole. She remembers sitting along with her dad pouring for her feelings and tears, who like any father was cathartic and understanding. Her dad as the ray of sunshine Shannon says, “Dad told me to keep working on my music since it gives me peace of mind and not to care about what others think. He said that if you’re getting hate it means you’ve achieved something for them to hate on you. And God watches everything, and He looks how much hard work and dedication you’re putting towards your goal and eventually He’ll end up giving you what you’ve been wanting for so long!”
The confidence inflicted on her made her realize that she wasn’t the only one being bullied and mortified. She wanted to help all those who had been through the dark phase of life to raise their voice and tell everyone that each of us is talented, unique and beautiful in our ways!
What is your success mantra?
Shannon gleefully points out, “My success mantra would be
1.Work in silence, let your work speak for you.
2.Have patience, be positive, stay determined.
3.Believe in yourself!”
8. What do you think the most appealing aspects of all your albums are?
“I guess I can say that I always try to bring in varieties whether in my music genre or the video. I’m always exploring myself as an artist.”, she states.
Is composing an album, instinctual based on your mood or a pre-planned one?
“ I let my heart choose what I want to write about or talk about in my songs.”, says Shannon
beautifully. “I’m always inspired by my surroundings or an experience that I feel like getting outta my chest. It’s like an evaluation, you talk about what happened, how you felt and then you conclude the story with a message or a lesson that you learnt.”
“ Sometimes it takes a few minutes to create a song because we have a great vibe around us
but sometimes it takes up to a year!” She describes that one should never force creativity,
instead just let it flow from your heart.
Tell us about your anti-bullying anthem, ‘Give Me Your Hand’ and its relevance in
“Give Me Your Hand was based on my sister Annabel and my experience of being bullied. I’ve always had a little diary where I write about my experiences, feelings and so on during the phase of my depression. Annabel and I decided to share our story and give a platform to those who were struggling to raise their voice. We wanted to speak up about this issue as it was being ignored. The amount of love and accolades we got from people for the song was so overwhelming. We wanted to tell people that they aren’t alone.”, Shannon explains.
Could you share the memorable moments you had while working with Sonu Nigam
for your third single 'OMT'?
“It was a very memorable experience to work with such a legend whose songs I’ve always loved listening to. Annabel and I got to learn so much from him as an artist and a human being.”, she says.
Remembering the funny incident at the recording session she shares, “Mr Nigam had asked us what the song was about and if it was based on a true-life experience so my sister started to tell all about my non-existent love life which was quite embarrassing yet funny.”
Your beauty and fitness secret?
“My beauty secret is making sure I take off all my makeup and apply a lot of moisturizers.” She further adds how drinking plenty of fluids along with applying organic face mask, and eating a lot of greens can help one improve their skin.
“When it comes to fitness I try not procrastinating much about exercising”, She laughs. “I do a bit of cardio and freehand workouts to keep myself in shape.”
A lockdown memory that turned out to be a long-lasting one?
“ I think not being able to see dad for almost a year would for sure be a dreadful memory which I’ll remember forever!”, She says insightfully. “ It’s so tough living through a pandemic without your loved ones and I’m sure I’ll value the importance of family a lot more from now on.”
What's your unique fashion statement?
“ I’d say comfort is a must in fashion so I make sure that I’m comfortable in whatever I’m
wearing but my style would be floral feminine looks. I like wearing high & low dresses and
Pinafores. Denim jackets are something that I’m always seen wearing because I love denim!”, Shannon shares.
Tell us about your favourite holiday spot? Where and also about the next spot in your
With an instant cheered up face she tells, “ My favourite holiday spot is New York. I feel like the best place to celebrate Christmas and New Year is the city of New York.” Loving the snow and decorations that bring out the festive feel she rejoices the New York city.
“ My next spot would either be London or Six Flags! I hope the world gets back to normal by
next year so I can visit my friends in London.”, She says hopefully.
What kind of music do you like listening to?
Having varied choices of music, Shannon calls her playlist crazy. She explains, “ I love listening to foreign songs like French, Italian, and Hebrew. I like expanding myself as an artist which is why I have songs from the 50s to the present. It’s so cool to see how music has evolved over the years. Most of the time I listen to Céline Dion, Whitney Houston, Ariana Grande. Along with that, I do listen to some Hindi songs like my dad’s for sure!”
Tell us about the moments of success that made you feel proud of yourself.
“There have been so many moments in my career which are unforgettable but this particular
moment was one of the highlights of my career.” Shannon proudly narrates, “ When my sister and I wrote ‘ Give Me Your Hand’, the amount of love received was immense. I’m very grateful for my fans that showed so much love and appreciation to the song which led to me receiving The Hollywood Music Awards. I think that this song paved a way for me to connect with people. I’m all in for supporting people in tough times and the fact that so many of them overcome their depression by listening to ‘Give Me Your Hand’ makes me feel happy. There’s a quote of mine which I truly believe in and that is “You are made for a reason, to SHINE!”
Share a few words about your latest album 'Run’.
“Run talks about believing in your dreams and having self-confidence. It’s like running towards your goal.” She adds, “ I was afraid of putting my true self out there. I was told to not dream big, to try and fit into look-alikes, to change my style so I can be accepted by the people. Being a young south Asian girl coming down to the US was (and still is) a challenge. I had people laugh at me when I shared my dreams with them and told them what I wanted to be.”
Over the years she realized her uniqueness is in her diversity. She motivates, “Being a person
of colour I wanted to show my ethnicity/roots but also show the culture of the country I‘m based from. That’s where I found my confidence. This song is a motivation for everyone who needs encouragement to be themselves. Be you and dream BIG!”
What is the next big thing in your future that you are looking forward to?
“Well, I worked in a feature film titled ‘The Big Feed’ in the States. I’m super excited for my fans to see this other side of me and I hope people enjoy it! Along with that, I have a podcast coming soon called ‘Get Real’, which would talk about the reality and unheard stories of artists, actors, musicians and influencers behind their success.”, Shannon explains.
A message you want to convey to people who aspire to be a singer/pop star.
Shannon asserts, “I would only say that perseverance and patience are the keys along with
hard work and a positive attitude.” She shares with us that there will be a lot of people who
would want to see you fail and would discourage you, but you have to keep going forward and not care about the haters. She elegantly tells, “Take in the good criticism and throw away the bad ones. Stay focused and always try to do better than before. Never give up on yourself! Most importantly keep dreaming cause if you ain’t then you won’t have anything to work towards.”
Taking a side off from the serious interview Shannon gets candid in the rapid-fire
questions as she ponders on the first thought that kicks in her mind on the questions
charged for her:-
1. Your music - New to the table
2. A secret thing about yourself - I once escaped from school during lunchtime with my best friend and it felt like we were in a mission impossible movie!
3. One thing which you always wanted to do but haven't done yet? - Bungee Jump!
4. Hashtag that can define you? - #Loveislouder
5. A profession you could be successful in? - Hmm.. I’d say acting.
Love, Team She