Kidderminster unsigned singer Shiraz keeps it in the family
Most youngsters would rather run a mile in the opposite direction than work with their mothers - but not Kidderminster's Shiraz Hempstock.
The 17-year-old, who has just finished a course in public services at the town's college, has such a good relationship with her mother Sarah that she represents her interests in chasing a music career.
Since joining a choir aged just eight, and picking up the guitar aged nine, Shiraz has had her eyes on making a name for herself in the music world, with her powerful RnB-style voice her primary weapon of attack.
She was born in Israel, but moved to the UK as a three-year-old with British-born Sarah. Then came her first brush with music when she joined Young Voices Kidderminster.
"We travelled the UK and performed at some amazing places," she tells us. "I started classical singing lessons shortly afterwards, with soprano music teacher Russell Painter in Birmingham.
"He suggested I audition for Birmingham Ormiston Academy Performing Arts School."
She earned a B-TECH in music from the centre at the age of 16, although feels it "didn’t teach me a great deal I was not already doing outside of the school", and then took up her place at Kidderminster College. And currently, she is taking lessons from her coach Rebecca Schwarz, from Alvechurch, who is "bringing the best out in me".
She started to perform at local events a few years ago, and it wasn't long before bigger fish started to take notice.
"I performed at local open mic nights in and around the area and was spotted by music producers and A&R (artists and repertoire) reps from the age of 15, which was pretty young.
"I secured an artist development place at River Recording Studio in Southampton, which I would attend once a month for a year.
"I have worked with many producers over time and it's finding the right one that fits you and has your best interests at heart. It’s been a learning curve, because some have underlying motives."
It's not just been her passion either. Overlooking the whole process has been Sarah, and Shiraz hasn't minded one bit.
"My mum has always had my best interests at heart unlike some of those producers. She's more like my best friend to be honest and she is passionate about me, which is what helped me to grow.
"We have a close connection and she is a really cool person. She helps with securing me gigs, with social media, and when I’m too busy with collage or work she steps in and oversees everything.
"It’s a 24-hour business, you have to keep working at it. She's like my PA, always keeping on top of me."
Sarah is a surveyor, having started working as an estate agent and making her way up the chain. It's a full-time, committed job, but she is desperate to see her daughter do well and has no qualms adding to her already busy workload.
"It's been a learning curve as I have no previous experience except just liking music," she admits.
"I'm her number one fan, but of course I am going to be. I am passionate about her, and she just loves her music which makes the job easier for me."
It's working well now, but Sarah hopes that it won't always be the case. She's not looking to drop her daughter's interests, but that Shiraz's success will mean she can fly the nest and move onto the next level.
"Someone will hopefully come and take Shiraz off my hands," she continues. "She's probably outgrown me and needs somebody to nurture that talent. Hopefully somebody will offer her that chance."
Shiraz also has some notable credits to her name. Last year, she wowed the crowds while playing at the prestigious Hay Festival thanks to the BBC Introducing team. It was an experience she loved.
"Playing at the Hay Festival was a dream for me, when BBC introducing asked me to perform I was overjoyed.
"It was raining, the weather was terrible, and at the start it didn’t look good. But when I started singing people started to pour into the tent, which became fuller. BBC said it was one of their best years and performances they had seen on that stage. It was really electric."
And earlier this month she was able to perform at Birmingham's prestigious Jam House - of Jools Holland fame - helping the venue celebrate its 20th anniversary year by supporting Imagination vocalist Leee John.
"[Local music A&R] Gabbie Cabbie started supporting my music once he heard it and said to Leee John 'look, you've got to have this girl support you, it’s talent you would not of seen'. After he listened to my music I got the support position.
"It was a packed out night and I really got some positive feedback.
"I also supported CityLightz at the O2 Academy in Birmingham, which again was great fun. A local promoter gave me the chance to support them."
Shiraz has a new song out next week too in what is proving a busy month. Collaborating with electronic artist Tilt, the track is called Rain and will be available from the usual digital outlets.
"This sounds a little different from what I’m currently working on because my music is going in a new direction, but it’s a really cool track," she says.
"I’m waiting to hear about the line-up at some local gigs and festivals, so keep your eyes open on my social media for dates coming soon. And if there’s any festival out there are looking for an artist, I may be available."
They could do worse than give a chance to this family-run enterprise.
Shiraz can be followed on both Twitter @OfficialShiraz and Facebook @ShirazMusicUK. Her new single Rain will be available to stream on various digital outlets including her Spotify page, with details of the others posted on her social medias on the release day next Friday. For more information on Shiraz and to book her for support gigs and festival slots, contact her via her website www.officialshiraz.com
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