S'Aida, Shakura

Born in Brooklyn, New York. Raised in Switzerland. A long-time Canadian who lives in Toronto. Speaks three languages. Performed in a half a dozen different countries in 2009, and will far exceed that in 2010.

Meet Shakura S'Aida, an international artist whose involvement in the Canadian music scene has been ongoing for the past 30 years, enriching the jazz, blues and classic R&B communities with her soulful voice, enthusiastic personality and commitment to music as an art form.

Whether speaking Swiss-German, French or English, Shakura instantly connects with her audience. With her sensational guitarist, Donna Grantis, she delivers a powerful show that always earns standing ovations.

And now, signed to a German record company, she's on the brink of releasing her first CD for Ruf Records.

The CD "Brown Sugar" was recorded in Tennessee and produced by Jim Gaines, who has worked with artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Huey Lewis, Santana, Coco Montoya and hundreds more. There are a dozen songs, all but one co-written by Shakura and Donna Grantis.

"Brown Sugar" will be released internationally in Spring 2010, and Shakura will tour more than a dozen European countries (sharing stages with Meena and Coco Montoya), and play major festivals across Canada and in the United States.

Already an experienced international artist, 2009 saw her perform at a major jazz festival in Tangiers, pay return visits to France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, and make a quick trip to Finland to help mix and master the new CD.

Shakura S'Aida — pronounce her name "Shack-oora Sigh-ee-da"— began performing at a young age. Her first steps into music began with a Toronto community band called Mystique, which found her belting out tunes alongside Deborah Cox, and then became the lead singer in the 13-piece world music band, Kaleefah, that would later be nominated for a Juno Award.

She quickly learned how to own the stage and "perform," a skill she has since carried to the musical stage with roles in such productions as "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Momma, I Want to Sing," and to the theatre as an actress. She's carried off supporting roles in film with Sudz Sutherland's "Doomstown" (2006) and in Frances Anne Solomon's "A Winter Tale" been featured in an installment of "Flashpoint" a major CTV television series that's also aired in the U.S.

As a solo artist, Shakura's career has spanned genres and countries and taken her to some of the most noted stages in the jazz world. She has performed at the Apollo Theatre in New York and has been nominated for numerous Maple Blues Awards over the last four years. She's at home with the repertoires of Ray Charsles, Nina Simone and the basic blues catalogue — but always wins audiences over with her own emotionally powerful songs.

"I am truly blessed by all the incredible opportunities I have had," says Shakura. "My life has been filled with amazing adventures; I can't wait to see what happens next!"

What will happen next is an even greater degree of international acceptance, and a growing fan base around the world. That's for sure — Shakura S'Aida is a force of nature, and one that will have to be reckoned with.