Chicago Singer Celebrates Community, Promotes Healing with Debut Album

A local emerging artist is celebrating the release of her first record, “Moody Umbra,” with a celebration rooted in togetherness.

“I would say all the things that can’t really be defined, that’s what my music feels like to me,” vocalist Shawnee Dez said.  

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While the sound can’t necessarily be defined, the intention has always been clear.

“Sound healing is important,” Dez said. “The music we consume definitely changes our DNA and also triggers different things in our brain. I’m in a space where I am trying to make music that is expansive that is rooted in liberation. … Music is energy work. What we consume is what comes out of our pores. When you’re drinking water, you’re sweating real good. I want to detoxify the music I’m making and offer people a different approach to being.”

Dez has been a performing vocalist in Chicago since 2015 and credits community as the catalyst for where she is today in her career.

“I started at The Promontory and did shows quite a bit,” Dez said. “Along the way, I performed more than I recorded, and that gave me a really interesting set of skills of being out in the world. Most artists isolate, but I had the opportunity to experience where my foundation was working with people. … The way I see the world is through the lens of community. When I perform or am having a conversation, that’s me expanding my community. Music is, community is an intricate part of music.”

That community helped her cultivate her first studio album, “Moody Umbra.”

“There’s a song there for everyone,” Dez said. “A song for every occasion. You wanna turn up? Down? Meditate? What do you want to do? I was able to deliver something so vast, but still be cohesive. It’s cohesive, but every song doesn’t sound the same, but they are in the same world.”

Dez is celebrating the record release with a live concert, which includes a community jam session featuring a range of artists who have become her community through the years.

“So it’ll be a big just, like, Chicago music moment much beyond the ‘Moody Umbra’ release,” Dez said. “An opportunity to all get free. I am all about freedom and liberation of my community, for all people, because we all deserve that. I’m proud of where I come from and excited to be able to share a gift with people. At my core there’s nothing more that I want to do.”

You can catch Shawnee Dez performing “Moody Umbra” this Thursday at Lincoln Hall. Tickets are available here.

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.

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