Shekhinah Donnell: The Contemporary Chanteuse

Shekhinah was my favourite contestant in eighth season of Idols SA, the first season to air on Mzansi Magic. She was the youngest contestant in her year poised with one of the most distinctive voices, in my opinion, to have graced the Idols stage. Eliminated at top 6, the theme for that week was Showstopper, which is ironic since her young career has been filled with songs that are nothing but. Before I get into her current work look at a 17-year-old Shekhinah.

Since her stint on Idols SA this chanteuse has been making waves on the music scene through her numerous collaborations, the first of which were with fellow Idol contestants. Less than a year later, she collaborated with fellow Season 8 alumni, Dominic Neill, on a song called Melody Makes You. Her big breakthrough came with Back to the Beach; a chilled collaboration with Kyle Deutsch, season 10 alumni (also Season 8 Sun City), which finds them reminiscing about a simpler time. This song is one of my favourite songs to come out of this decade. She followed up her breakthrough collaborating with popular DJ’s, Sketchy Bongo and Black Coffee as the anticipation built for her solo debut.

Shekhinah’s poised with a distinctive tone that’s extremely evocative and soulful. This quality has allowed her to standout in Idols and her career has been no different. Rose Gold finds her travelling through and blending different genres, yet she consistently remains the focal point throughout. She adopts a very rhythmic style of singing that mixes rap-like phrasing with melodic singing throughout the album to pronounced effect; this style came to prominence within 90’s female musical acts; the most prolific being Lauryn Hill, Destiny’s Child with their constant double time phrasing, post-Butterfly Mariah Carey and Jill Scott.

Moving past her voice and vocal styling, her debut stands as a confident declaration of who Shekhinah is. An independent woman who craves her control and praises individuality, see Power to She and Thirsty. Even her love songs make it clear how her affections and their various manifestations are her choice. Shekhinah has managed to be extremely versatile and singular in her short career. If Rose Gold is any true indication, this chanteuse will be around for a long time.

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