Indie Spotlight: ShySpeaks
Indie Spotlight is a content series by Indepreneur dedicated to highlighting the successes and stories of our Indie community members.
Each month, our staff selects students and clients from our community to interview and gain insight into their journey - the challenges, the setbacks, and the major wins!
This month, we'd like to introduce you to ShySpeaks.
March 25th, 2021 by Graci Phillips
Hey, Shy! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today! For those that aren’t familiar with you and your music, give us the ShySpeaks snapshot!
ShySpeaks, is a Hip Hop & Spoken Word Artist from Dallas, TX on a mission to reinfuse positivity & spirituality into Urban Culture through the Arts & the power of my Voice!
Listening to your music, and getting to know you more leaves me wanting to ask so many questions! But, I would be remiss to not ask you about some of the incredible accolades and accomplishments you’ve achieved thus far in your career. From writing for other artists, to sharing the stage with musical giants, to being a 5x “Spoken Word Artist of The Year” in Dallas, you’ve done so much! Your first EP came out in 2011--looking back over the last ten years, what are the highlights for you?
I still can’t believe it’s been TEN years! A few milestone moments for me are:
- Opening for Rapsody
- Hosting a red-carpet Music Video Premiere event at the Angelika Film Center & Cafe
- The one weekend where I was in two different worlds at once, it was announced that I was featured on Gospel icon Kirk Franklin’s (Grammy Award-Winning Album, Losing My Religion) and I also opened for Hip Hop giant Jeezy in concert in Dallas
- Doing a 5-City Concert Series Tour
- Being on Zaytoven & Lecrae’s (Dove Award-Winning Album, Let the Trap Say Amen)
- Launching further into the YouTube space with a Quarterly Rap Series, #FreeLunchFridays and a Monthly Vlog, #ShadowingShy
- Most recently, being a performer on the Heal America Tour
One of my favorite things about Shy Speaks is your obvious commitment to community building, outreach, and helping people. And it’s pretty well summed up in your mission statement!
“...to treat the words artist, advocate, and activist as one in the same.”
We’ll get into some of the ways you’re fostering this in your music in a minute, but first, how did you come to this mission statement? Why is using your art as a form of advocacy and activism something that was important to you?
For me, my artistry is not an alter-ego, it is who I am. I am naturally all about empowerment, so it comes out lyrically. I don’t think that there’s a soul on this planet that can’t stand to be encouraged just a little bit more. I am a person who firmly believes that the “greatest among us will be called servants”. What better way to be a “great artist” (aside from having a high caliber of talent, creativity, and work ethic) than to use it to positively promote causes that benefit my fellow man or campaign for things that bring about the social changes that we want to see in our world!
You just wrapped up your second season of #FreeLunchFridays, and are gearing up for season 3! I love the way this series shows off your skills, actually feeds people (physically and mentally), and in your words, helps people, “invite others to the table.” And now, starting in its second season, the series even boasts sponsors who are helping you give away these lunches! Tell us how this series works and what the inspiration was behind it?
Quarterly, I designate a month to drop FREE music, every Friday within that month! Each song/video is released during lunch time because it is my endeavor to not only drop a “free verse” over a good beat in the style of Freestyle Friday, but to spotlight good restaurants who offer healthy fare. I also promise that everyone will be automatically entered to win “Free Lunch on Me” if they “invite others to the table” that is, they share the video & tags other people who they think will enjoy what I served up. It has turned out to be a really fun way to engage with my supporters as they recruit others to do the same!
Okay, I would love to talk about your song, “King Remix feat. Dee-1.” This song is so powerful and such an important message. Not just for the young men you wrote it for, but for everyone who hears it. Tell us about how this song came together and why it was important to you to use your platform to speak specifically to young men of color?
I was aware that I wrote this song during an era that was finally, and rightly, celebrating the woman! While the world was shouting, “All Hail the Queens", it was laid on my heart to encourage them to remember to use their voices to SPEAK life into men, especially men of color, who in this same era were not making as many strides statistically-speaking and even more important, who were experiencing social injustices at a disproportionate rate. Plus, there hadn’t been a song with mass appeal that affirmed men of color in such a manner, so I said, “that’s what I want to contribute to culture!"
You’ve recently started sponsoring a series of events called, “Civilized Drive In Concert & Conversation.” These are community events held in actual drive-in theaters. In your words, “A night of entertainment and empowerment!” As I understand, you just finished the first event with a ton of success! Give us an inside look into these events. What they’re about, how they came together, and what Shy Speaks role is in them!
Yes! The Civilized Concert & Conversation (C3) is a Drive-In Experience similar to the drive-in movies, but not necessarily held on theater grounds. We can use any parking lot and bring in great sound, lights, and staging. That’s what I love about it, it’s a show that we can take on the road. At the onset of the pandemic, my team and I came up with it as we were talking about ways to curate an event that encompasses all of things that were on my heart at the moment; the power of positive artist, provoking thought and fostering conversations that can create change, and the idea of being “civilized”. Two years ago I started having a deep sense that being “civilized” would become of high importance in our world. I didn’t know how, but I felt it coming. Artistically, I decided that my next EP would be called “Civilized”. Then 2020 happened and we saw the greatest civic unrest & uprising since the Civil Rights Movement! Now it’s all clear to me and my project is currently in the works! Until then, I’ll continue to play my role as Curator and Operations Manager with the C3 Event series.
As one of our veteran Indies, you’ve been around pretty much since the beginning of Indepreneur! How did you find Indepreneur and what has kept you in this community for the long haul?
Absolutely! I came across a social media ad that Indepreneur was running about the Fan Finder method and getting people to view your music videos. Well, I’d just turned away from a record deal and had about 5 videos in the chamber. I figured I’d give it a whirl! I joined the FB Community and realized how much I enjoyed being connected to other indie artists. More importantly, I was ready to take what I was doing to the next level through educating and investing in myself, so I joined IndiePro and have been hooked by its continuous improvement, monthly benefits, and membership perks!
Now, I know that your strong business mindset, paired with your insane talent and creativity, has been a major catalyst in your success thus far. But you’ve also been able to achieve something that is elusive to many grassroots indies, you’ve actually built a small team around yourself! So I have a couple questions about that process for you:
-When did you know you needed a team?
I knew that I needed a team when the demand for what I was doing exceeded the amount of time I had to effectively handle all the incoming opportunities on my own. I stood the chance of either double booking myself, missing out on a press opportunity because an email slipped through the cracks, or being so on top of my back-office task that I didn’t have time to be creative!
-How did you put together the right team?
Before seeking a team, I started building systems that would make it easier for people to help me.
-What has your team taken off your plate?
-Booking Agent: Securing Live Performances (Handling incoming inquiries as well as seeking opportunities for me to perform)
-Publicist: Securing Press & Media Related opportunities
-Marketing Intern: Help me execute digital advertising goals, write engaging copy, analyzing results
-How has your role as a business owner and creative changed since being able to pass things off to your team?
It’s afforded me more time to focus on long-term goals like the relationship between my fans and I as well as meet with potential business partners who have shared visions and goals as my company, as well as developing/creating new music, merch & content.
Thank you so much for hanging with me today! You’ve got SO MUCH amazing stuff going on. To wrap up, what’s next on the horizon for Shy Speaks and what’s the best way for people to keep up with all you’re doing?
As I mentioned above, I’m working on my next EP, titled Civilized. And, all the more exciting, as a tribute to being a successful indie artist for 10 years, I’m going to be launching an online-service based business that helps indie artists setup, organize, and operate their art like a business. But I’ve already started fostering community in what I’m calling the Addict’s Attic on Patreon. It’s a place where I can serve up more content to those who supporter my art and other indie artist who need help with the business side of their art. Fit either category? Join me at Patreon.com/ShySpeaks and/or follow me on IG @ShySpeaks!
About the author:
Graci Phillips is Indepreneur's Community Manager & Indie Success Specialist. Graci is part of our Nashville team and specializes in providing resources and solutions to our members, community building, and highlighting success stories within this incredible community.
If you are a member of our Indie Community and have a story to tell about your journey as an independent musician, reach out to Graci at firstname.lastname@example.org! We're always looking for new stories to share. If you aren't yet part of our Indie Community, you can get access to our entire library of music business trainings, our entire suite of exclusive discounts on partner products and services for musicians, our 4000+ private community of Indies, and weekly live stream Q&A's and coaching calls by signing up for INDIEPRO!
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