"Do Not Try to Do What the Whole World Is Already Doing" - Shannon Donald

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1. Tell us about your background and journey?

I’ve grown up singing on stage since I was 4 years old and then professionally at 16, performing with many esteemed artists from the music industry.Toured with artists like Farhan Akhtar (Farhan Live), Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Salim-Sulaiman, Sunidhi Chauhan, Mohit Chauhan, Ayushmann Khurana as well as worked on background scores for A R Rahman, Vishal Bhardwaj, Ajay Atul, Pritam, & Amit Trivedi.

I’ve also lent my voice to jingles for television commercials. Currently touring with Farhan Akhtar & Ayushmann Khurrana. I became a vocal coach 4 years ago, something that I always wanted to do & its become pretty much a full time job that I’m truly passionate about.

2. When did you first decide, you wanted to pursue music and how did you start?

There was no such turning point where I sat down and decided to make music a career, because everything happened slow and steady. 

I was already earning from recordings at age 15 & it snowballed into bigger projects and I guess I one day found myself completely immersed in the music industry. There was no turning back after that.

3. Is formal training required or one can train oneself purely based on talent?

If you have the talent, it always helps to get training to further extend your potential and fully work on bringing out your best. Students always ask me about following YouTube videos and learning, the thing is you can collect all the info out there but the technique of how you do the exercises matters a lot in order to not cause damage to your voice. 

Even those who have basic singing voices can get help from the right vocal coach & definitely make it in the music industry. But they would require double the work than someone who has natural talent.

4. What are the various opportunities available for an aspiring musician?

You can train to become a singer, songwriter, composer, arranger, lyricist, and if you are a great musician, and I mean a truly great musician with something different to offer, there is always place in the industry for you.

The other qualities that ensure you get hired more than once is your professionalism. How well prepared you are at rehearsals, do you make it on time, do you have respect for your co-musicians. These things matter a lot to us.

5. What piece of advice you would like to give to future and aspiring artist?

Find something that sets you apart from the crowd, no matter how silly, awkward or different it makes you, and hone in on that quality. Do not try to do what the whole world is already doing, it’s difficult to be picked out of a line up if you try to fit in.
Don’t be afraid to start writing your own songs, the time for independent music is now & this is one of the best times to make use of the downtime we’ve got, thanks to the lockdown.

6. Who is your favourite artist and why?

There are too many artists I love, starting from India to all around the world. The qualities I respect in any other artist are their perseverance & hard work to push themselves, do big things DIY even when there’s not much financial backing. 

Coming out with quality content despite the setbacks! I aspire to to be like any of them.

- Shannon Donald, Musician

- Interviewed by Kedar Lalwani
- Edited by Shilpy Sharan

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