She’s a powerful singer, a talented songwriter, a tireless ministry partner, and an inspiring advocate for at-risk youth, but growing up in a broken home in Columbus, Ohio, Shuree’s future was anything but secure. Her young life was scarred by domestic violence and addiction among her family members, which led to hardship around every corner and culminated in the loss of her younger sister to a drug overdose.
Despite the chaos and challenges, Shuree grew up in a Christian home – sort of. She was four years old when a family from up the hill came knocking at her door. Her parents accepted Christ and began attending church. Though her family’s time in the church brought some peace to their home, it was short-lived, as the potency of addiction soon overwhelmed her family members once again. This led to a defining spiritual moment for Shuree. She had to decide for herself what she believed. In the end, God was real to her and the teachings of her church were powerful. At that young age, Shuree made the choice to return to church without her parents.
While that local congregation was a refuge and inspiration, so was music. She grew up admiring artists like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, and young Shuree constantly wrote songs of her own. It was a natural talent that hadn’t been nurtured, but was beginning to come out on it’s own. Talent shows and singing in church later confirmed that she loved to perform. However, more than just being on stage, it was connecting with people and evoking a response that grasped Shuree.
Unsure of how performing would fit into her future, at 17 Shuree heard a man play “Amazing Grace” on the saxophone and she knew she was being called. God’s plans for her became clear, and she knew that it was for Him that she needed to use her gifts and talents. Knowing that she needed a change, Shuree escaped the family drama by attending college in Nyack, New York, where she studied music business and began preparing for a career that fit within that spiritual calling.
Though she knew that she had talent in the musical realm, Shuree’s vision expanded beyond music from the beginning. Just writing songs wasn’t enough; she felt called to write songs that made a difference, and she embarked on a mission to create real change through music. She also had discovered that she had become a moving speaker. The mission of “One Girl Can Change the World” was born shortly thereafter. In 2012 Shuree released her first album by the same name and set out to make a palpable difference in peoples’ lives, particularly in the hearts and minds of young girls through highly engaging music that could compete with any artist out there. Through her ability to connect with people on a speaking level, she wanted to save young people from the experiences that she had growing up. She wanted to be a guiding light for positivity and empower even small children to make a difference, first in their own lives, and then hopefully in the lives of others. Shuree wanted to “Be the Change.”
The “One Girl Can Change The World” album, the focused launch of Shuree’s mission, was accepted with open arms and to great celebration. Shuree travelled from church to church for the next two years, spreading her word of change through powerful speaking, via music that made people dance, sing, and realize that with His help, we can be powerful and make a difference.
Shuree began to speak of her “3 Ps:” the basis of her public speaking and an explanation of the path to change. The 3 P’s, Shuree states, are to live passionately, purposefully and powerfully for God in today’s society.
“Passion is the one thing we all have in common,” Shuree says of the first ‘P.’ “Passion is suffering, setbacks, disappointments, or heartaches. It is the Passion of Christ in all of us. Your passion story is what God uses for you to change the world, but only if you allow Him to take the broken pieces of your life and make them beautiful. When we give our broken pieces to the Almighty, He lifts us up, makes us stronger, and sends us out with a purpose.”
The second ‘P’ is purpose. “This is usually discovered out of your passion story, your brokenness. It is that thing in the world you feel compelled to change because of what you or someone you love has been through. Your purpose is the thing God created you to do to help change the world. Now changing the world is no easy task. If it were, everyone would be doing it, but once we give God our passion story and broken pieces, we discover our purpose.”
Shuree concludes with the third ‘P,’ “Power is being 110% who God created you to be and nothing less. It is your unique gifts and talents. It is the Holy Spirit working through us. You take those things to create change in the world, and it is your power that allows you to ‘Be The Change.’”
The music itself was so popular that a remix EP followed. Soon after, her infectious pop grooves with a message caught the attention of BEC Recordings, and she spent the last year writing for her BEC debut EP, “Be The Change”, scheduled to release in the fall of 2014. BEC also helped her assemble a stellar production team that includes Oh, Hush! (Cee Lo Green, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Lopez), AJ Pruis (Midnight Alive), Sean Bowe (Cobra Starship), and Matt Arcaini¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ (Shine Bright Baby, Among the Thirsty).
This project is something she believes God has been preparing her for all her life, so it’s no surprise when she describes the songwriting process as nothing less than divinely inspired. “I felt like God would literally just come into the room, and He gave me the songs each session,” Shuree recalls.
One of the tracks she co-wrote for the album is “Be the Change,” a rousing anthem and the project’s lead single. The most recent Grammy telecast inspired the song. Shuree noticed a wave of negative comments on social media, many from Christians. While she agreed with much of the criticism, she wanted to inspire others to not just sit back, but to do something positive that could impact others for Christ, and that’s what she is committed to doing. As her career has continued on its upward trajectory, Shuree’s pop sound has matured and her message has become more strategic. Each song is grounded in scripture, and she’s not afraid to make her beliefs known. In the midst of it all, her passion for God and for life shines through.
That positive attitude is due in part to powerful mentors who stepped in to fill the gaps left by Shuree’s tumultuous home life. It’s definitely given her a heart for teen girls – her own experiences instilled in Shuree a passion for reaching other hurting young women – but her goal is to create music that isn’t just for one age group. Instead, she wants to reach a broad audience that includes anyone in need of a little hope.
“A lot of people have lost hope, have lost purpose, and I can speak life into that,” she says, and she has a message for them. “My story is what God has called me to share and the music is my avenue for doing that.”
Shuree’s goal is to see everyone healthy, whole and anchored in faith in God. And with her history, that is anything but lip service. She’s done the hard work to overcome her own negative past in order to step into her full purpose in Christ.
Even today, her family story doesn’t have a fairytale ending, but Shuree is grateful that God continues to work. While her mother is still fighting to be free of her addictions, and Shuree is so proud of her mother who is bravely continuing to fight her addictions. Her Dad has come back to the Lord and recently apologized for not being the father he wished he could have been when Shuree was younger.
She’s begun building her own family, too. Shuree met her husband at a Christian camp for inner city kids where he was a lifeguard and she was a music teacher. They took their time getting to know each other, but eventually married and moved to the Chicago area. From that home base, Shuree focuses on her recording career and still finds time to lead worship at her home church, The Compass, in Naperville, IL. Her ministry partnerships include worthy organizations that align with her passions. She supports Mercy Ministries, an organization that helps young women struggling with life-controlling issues, and she works with Remember Nhu, a nonprofit that raises funds to keep girls out of the sex trade.
She’s made the most of what she’s been given and turned obstacles into inspiration. Through all the ups and downs, Shuree’s faith has preserved her and given her a joy and zest for life that no circumstance or tragedy has ever taken away. That’s why she is committed to sharing her stories through her music, in the hope that she may inspire others to live life to the fullest, even when the unexpected happens.