WORDS BY MUKONDELELI
IMAGERY COURTESY OF PLAYMAKERS
By now you should know that Shekhinah Thandi Donnell, known musically as just Shekhinah, is a celebrated Pop/R&B singer-songwriter that was born in Durban, South Africa who made us first fell in love with her and her voice during M-Net’s Seasons 7 & 8 of South African Idols. She then blossomed into a young 20-something-year-old that wanted to take it back to the beach with friends, fast forward to 2022 she is a multi-award-winning internationally renowned vocalist, performer and artist. Her accolades don’t end there, she also has a platform focused on uplifting females in the South African music industry called Rosefest.
Shekhinah further stretched her creativity outside of music, specifically into fashion and essentially became a member of the Adidas family. She has been featured in a number of their campaigns whilst co-creating some of the shoe designs with them, the latest being the NMD V3 – a new silhouette of the 2015 trailblazing NMD silhouette. This latest offering is described as “an iconic design of the past with a vision for the future that’s made for urban explorers. Keep moving with endless BOOST energy and a re-engineered mesh upper with adaptive support”. However, the campaign’s messaging speaks on creating your own path…
I usually get a rush of nerves before conducting an interview because I am an incredibly anxious human being, but weirdly enough, I felt calm about this one… I don’t know if it’s because the interview was virtually or if it was me unintentionally matching Shekhinah’s balmy, calm and gentle energy. We had a sweet and short conversation and this is how it went.
We know who Shekhinah is and how your musical journey sprouted, but what defines you as a musical artist and as an overall creative?
That’s such a tough question, I think I don’t really know how to define that myself cause I don’t really do reflections, which I think I should. If I had to think off of the top of my head what defines me, is perseverance. The other thing is being an example of hard work and dedication, people have followed my career since I was 16 and I’m 28 now and they are still invested and that only comes with perseverance… I always want to be an example of “the more work you put in, the more you get out.”
How has the journey of finding your voice as an artist been?
The journey of finding my voice as an artist is the most ongoing and long-winded thing ever. I think it’s constantly changing. At different points in my life and career, I need a different kind of voice. I think where I am right now I’ve enjoyed going through all the different phases of it and I am at a new place right now. My voice at the moment is still trying to be established in being more of a leader, setting good examples and being a good role model.
Is self-love still the core theme in your music or are the themes ever-changing and evolving with time?
The themes are always changing, but somehow always centred around love so if it’s not self-love it’s love for friends, platonic love, or romantic love, but overall the core theme is centred around love.
Yes, I have one more project left that is coming soon with my current team and we are very excited.– Shekhinah
Rose Gold is denounced as a body of work that formally introduced you to the masses and cemented your spot in the industry and your sophomore album Trouble in Paradise is said to have been a reminder of how adept and skilled you are, do you agree?
Definitely, Trouble in Paradise is a crazy world of coming to who you are and focusing on self-love…
Are we going to get another reminder?
Yes, I have one more project left that is coming soon with my current team and we are very excited.
What are your go-to songs from both albums?
My go-to song from Rose Gold is ‘Please Mr’ and my go-to song from Trouble in Paradise is ‘Tides.’
If you could perform only one of your songs for eternity which one would you choose?
Jehova! If I could only perform one of my songs it’ll be ‘Please Mr’, I have fun performing that particular song.
If I had to think off of the top of my head what defines me, is perseverance.– Shekhinah
How do you find the balance between being a human being, just living life and being an artist?
It’s too difficult and definitely something I’m still trying to wrap my head around and understand when can I be me and when I have to be an artist or creative. As people, we all wear many hats and first and foremost you’re somebody’s daughter, god’s child, you’re somebody’s sibling and those things are more important to me.
You were recently on the August Cover of Glamour magazine alongside Karabo Poppy and you were both defined as “dynamic powerhouses” how was that experience for you?
Geez, an honour! An honour to be associated with Glamour and honour to be associated with Karabo Poppy.
It is one of the most genuine relationships I have had.– Shekhinah
Now jumping into fashion, tell us briefly about your relationship with the Adidas family.
My relationship with the Adidas family goes way back, but my favourite thing about it is that it’s not superficial. It is one of the most genuine relationships I have had.
You created your own path musically how was it like creating your path with the latest evolution of the NMD?
It has honestly been the coolest experience, creating my own path with a new shoe and Adidas is becoming more and more important to me.
What’s your favourite colour-way?
My favourite colour-way is the dash grey, I like dull “fade to the background” colours.
Lastly, What would you tell a young black girl navigating the music or the creative industry as a whole with no formal guidance?
I would plead with her to trust her gut and to think everything through.