ShaGasyia "Shea" Diamond[1] (born March 17, 1978) is an American singer, songwriter, and transgender rights activist. Her music is chiefly soul and R&B, and includes elements of blues, rock, hip-hop and folk.[2] Her songwriting ability has been described as "demonstrating a rare gift to portray raw, dynamic emotion in a way that moves the body as much as the spirit"[3] Her influences include Whitney Houston and Tina Turner.[2]

Shea Diamond
Black-and-white photograph of a black woman singing into a microphone, with a grainy photograph of various people on a street visible in the background.
Background information
Birth nameShaGasyia Diamond
Born (1978-03-17) 17 March 1978 (age 46)
Little Rock, Arkansas

Her debut extended play Seen It All was released on June 29, 2018.[3]

Early life edit

Diamond was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to a fourteen-year-old mother and was raised by relatives in Memphis, Tennessee before living most of her teenage years and adulthood in Flint, Michigan. She ran away from home at age fourteen and spent time in the foster care system before getting emancipated at seventeen.[4][3] Growing up she felt immense pressure to act masculine, despite knowing early on that she identified as a woman.[5] She was inspired to become a singer by Tina Turner and worked on her skills while directing her church choir, where she was often chastised for singing too high.[4] At age 20 she robbed a convenience store at gunpoint to pay for gender affirmation surgery.[5] Diamond was in and out of men's correctional facilities in Michigan between 1999 and 2009. It was in prison that she wrote her song "I Am Her."[5] While incarcerated, Diamond faced discrimination specifically for her identity as a trans woman. She was kept in protective segregation and lost privileges often to keep her away from the male population. Humiliation, isolation, and misgendering were used as punishment.[6]

Career edit

After watching a video of Diamond performing her song "I Am Her" a cappella at a Trans Lives Matter rally,[7] pop songwriter Justin Tranter was so impressed by her honesty and raw vocal talent that they immediately got in contact with her and they began recording music together. Tranter went on to co-sign her to Asylum Records and executive produce and co-write her debut extended play Seen It All, released on June 29, 2018.[3]

In 2017, Diamond covered "I'd Love to Change the World" by the English rock band Ten Years After for the television miniseries When We Rise.[8] In December 2018 Diamond joined the Human Rights Campaign's Equality Rocks campaign.[9]

In February 2019 she was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist.[10] The same year her song "American Pie" was endorsed by 2020 United States presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and used in his campaign rallies.[2] In June 2019 she was a headliner for the Washington, DC Capital Pride Concert[2] On June 7, 2019 Diamond released her single "Don't Shoot", a song that was described by Paper as containing "a message against America's ongoing gun violence epidemic while also being a reflection Diamond's experience [sic] as a Black trans woman who has been incarcerated and systemically discriminated against".[11]

Diamond's hand appeared on the original cover of Sam Smith's third studio album, back when it was known as To Die For.[12] She also appears in the music video for their song "I'm Ready" with Demi Lovato.[13]

Diamond's song "I Am America" provides the theme song for the HBO series We're Here. The song was released as a single on April 23, 2020. "I Am America" was included on Billboard's list of the best LGBTQ songs of 2020[14] Also in 2020, she released the singles "Stand Up" and "So Lucky", and had two songs appear on the soundtrack to the Hulu original Christmas film Happiest Season.

Discography edit

Shea Diamond discography

Extended plays edit

Title Album details
Seen It All
  • Released: June 29, 2018
  • Label: Asylum, East West
  • Format: Digital download, streaming
Memory Lane
  • Released: September 22, 2023
  • Label: Facet
  • Format: Digital download, streaming

Singles edit

As lead artist edit

Title Year Album
"I Am Her" 2017 Seen It All
"Keisha Complexion" 2018
"American Pie"
"Don't Shoot" 2019 Non-album singles
"I Am America"
(from We're Here)
"Stand Up"
(with Tom Morello and Dan Reynolds featuring The Bloody Beetroots)
"So Lucky"
"Presence of a Legend"
(from Mama Gloria)
"People Get Ready" 2023 Memory Lane

As featured artist edit

Title Year Album
"Chasing Dreams" (from Hulu's Changing the Game)
(Gozé featuring Old Man Saxon and Shea Diamond)
2021 Non-albums single

Other appearances edit

Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"I'd Love to Change the World" 2017 When We Rise (Original Television Soundtrack)
"Movies About Women Written By Men" 2019 Jed Davis Rise and Shine: Day 1[15]
"Thank You" Sam Barsh The Nine[16]
"Blame It on Christmas" 2020 Bebe Rexha Happiest Season (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[17]
"Mrs. Claus"

References edit

  1. ^ "Shea Diamond - TEDxKC". Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Van Slooten, Phillip; Rodgers, Yulani (June 8, 2019). "Headliner Shea Diamond getting 'diva'ed up' for Capital Pride slot". Washington Blade. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Valentine, Claire (June 28, 2019). "Shea Diamond and Justin Tranter in Conversation". Paper Magazine. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Hertweck, Nate (June 26, 2019). "Shea Diamond Sings "Don't Shoot" For Special Pride Month Edition Of Press Play". Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Crowley, Patrick (June 14, 2018). "Meet Shea Diamond, The Trans Soul Singer Who Found Her Voice in Men's Prison". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  6. ^ "Shea Diamond Speaks Her Truth". Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  7. ^ Azzopardi, Chris (June 27, 2018). "Trans Singer Shea Diamond Moved Prisoners With Her Music While In Jail. Now, the World". Pride Source. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  8. ^ O'Keeffe, Jack (March 1, 2019). "Download The 'When We Rise' Soundtrack To Hear Its Fitting Collection Of Covers". Bustle. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  9. ^ Hassanein, Rokia (December 19, 2018). "Artist Shea Diamond Joins HRC's Equality Rocks Campaign". Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  10. ^ "2019 GLAAD Media Award Nominees". Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  11. ^ Michael, Michael Love (June 7, 2019). "Shea Diamond's 'Don't Shoot' Pleads for Peace In a Violent World". Paper Magazine. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  12. ^ Street, Mikelle (February 13, 2020). "Sam Smith Postpones Album, Changes Name of Project". Out Magazine. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Madeline Roth (April 17, 2020). "Sam Smith and Demi Lovato are an olympic dream team in "I'm Ready" video". MTV. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  14. ^ Billboard Staff (December 10, 2020). "The 25 Best LGBTQ Songs of 2020: Staff Picks". Billboard. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  15. ^ "Rise and Shine: Day 1". Spotify. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  16. ^ ""Thank You" by Sam Barsh". Spotify. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  17. ^ "Happiest Season (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Apple Music. Retrieved November 8, 2020.

External links edit