Local artists prove Dorchester a
hotbed of musical talent
DORCHESTER COMMUNITY NEWS, December 19, 2003
by Peter Van Delft
For the uninitiated, hearing Dorchester, Massachusetts mentioned as a
player on the national or even local music scene is about as common as
seeing a snow plow driving by your house during the last Nor'easter. But
there is a definite musical pulse coursing through the community, one that
features styles as diverse as Jazz, Rap, Rock-n-Roll, Folk, Blues, Gospel,
etc. and as unique as the music created by the many ethnic groups that
reside within the lines of Dorchester's boundaries. Indeed, if one looks,
there is a percolating sauce of flavorful original music just waiting to
be tasted by residents of Dorchester, Massachusetts, and beyond. The
following are three brief introductions of artists from Dorchester who
have released debut CDs that you can buy throughout the holiday season and
through the new year.
Manisha Shahane - Peace In Progress
Manisha Shahane embodies the word "versatility." Singing since the age of
5, Shahane spent her formative years in Virginia where she performed with
several different groups in which she was able to sample a multitude of
musical styles and genres singing -- both a cappella and with musical
accompaniment -- Jazz, Rock, Blues, Folk, among others. A mezzo soprano,
Shahane also sings in the traditional Western style Marathi which she
calls "the voice of my childhood," as taught by her mother, who would
often sing around the house and at events given by the Indian community in
Virginia. A multi-talented vocalist, Shahane is also an accomplished
classical pianist and keyboard player. Having appeared at many clubs and
venues throughout Virginia and Washington DC, Shahane has performed
locally at such notable musical hotspots as The Lizard Lounge, Les
Zygomates, Limbo, and Club Passim. Feeling the need to reconnect with her
roots as a choral singer, Shahane has also recently joined the famed,
Grammy-nominated Chorus Pro Musica. Now, with her new CD release entitled
"Peace In Progress," Shahane showcases the versatility she
possesses musically, vocally, and lyrically.
Having kicked off her new CD at a record release party in Cambridge's
Zeitgeist Gallery this past Saturday, Shahane offers a mix of Bluesy Jazz,
Folk, traditional Marathi, and a blend of styles that makes Peace In
Progress an eclectic collection of introspective music that reaches out to
many audiences. Peace In Progress was produced by Dan Cantor and Shahane,
and features several locally and internationally known artists along with,
fittingly, Shahane's parents. About the album's title, Shahane writes, "I
used to believe that conflicting internal commentary, misunderstandings in
our homes and communities, wars of all kinds obstructed peace, until I
realized that navigating this terrain is part of our collective peace in
progress. This album is a piece in progress - the moments of imperfection
are healing when embraced, reflecting my own peace in progress."
To learn more about Manisha Shahane, visit her website at :
CDs may be purchased with a check or credit card at www.cdfreedom.com or
by calling 1-800-937-3397 from 10AM to 6PM EST or by mail at: P.O. Box
391753, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Manisha, formerly living in Cambridge when she came to Massachusetts, now
resides in Dorchester.
Willie Shepherd - Skychild
As a youngster, Willie Shepherd wasn't always able to do the things he
does now vocally. In fact, as Shepherd tells it, he couldn't even speak.
Born without voice, Shepherd had to take speech therapy at a local clinic
throughout his early youth. As part of his therapy, he would sit in church
listening to sermons and the choir until he could bite his tongue no
longer. He began talking and singing at the age of 12 and, according to
Shepherd, "I've been talking ever since."
With a growing love for singing, Shepherd concentrated his attention on
R&B, Soul, Blues, Gospel, and Funk as he started on his voyage of musical
discovery. Along the way, Shepherd formed the R&B group "Willie Shepherd
and the DelRios," among others, and took part in many performances and
shows at club venues and centers all across the State of Massachusetts. As
he began making connections within the local music scene, it became clear
to Shepherd that he wanted to add to his already impressive ability both
vocally and instrumentally. After presenting a collection of musical
works, Shepherd was enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music
where he set about honing his craft. By 1997, Shepherd was ready to
release his first album entitled, "Skychild" - a 12-song collection of R&B
and Gospel-influenced music. With a voice that has been described as a
cross between Al Green and Isaac Hayes, Shepherd also displays his talents
on guitar, bass, and keyboards. Though released several years prior, "Skychild"
boasts a timeless sound that is reminiscent of some of the classic
R&B/Soul albums of the past.
Currently hard at work on his second CD, Shepherd is incorporating some
new stylistic influences including Hip Hop and some "R-Kelly style"
Seeking to inspire others as he was himself inspired, Shepherd has been
teaching music for the past 13 years. One need only look to Shepherd's
mother and sisters, all teachers, to see his inevitable need to share the
gift of music. Offering lessons in bass, piano, guitar, voice, and
clarinet Shepherd says of his profession, "I will always teach. I think it
is important for those of us who have some knowledge in something to teach
it to others. I don't care what I do in life, I will always teach." To
purchase Skychild or to learn more about Willie Shepherd, go to
www.bosscity.com. For lessons call (617) 436-5719.
[Peter Van Delft is editor of the Dorchester Community News.]