top of page

Picture from "Blacked Out" music video.  Directed by Tony Güembes & Cinematographer Chris Monberg.

There is something quite refreshing and unique about Ms. Shaunté Usual. The Maryland native is a singer, songwriter, dancer and actress whose style of music is a combination of Solange and Rachael Yamagata, with hints of Norah Jones thrown into the mix. And once you listen to “Blacked Out”, the first single from her album #TUX:The Usual Xperience, you too will see why her talent is anything but usual.
LRM: What is the story behind your name?
Shaunté: It’s my real name. Not a stage name. For the longest time I use to wish my name was Smith or Thompson or something normal, but nope it’s Usual. I remember being in school during homeroom and the teacher would go down the list for who was in attendance and I would try to say “here” before she got to my name. So she would say something like Jimmy Thompson and before she could finish the “n” on his last name I would jump in and say “here!” just so no one would hear my name.
LRM: What is your music making process?
Shaunté: I hear music and melodies sometimes when I am sleeping and I have to wake up and record the entire composition. It always sounds crazy because my voice is ridiculously deep at three, four and five in the morning when this happens. But, I then later I go into the studio and begin to build the song. Adding layers and textures of sound, creating the soundscape of what I originally heard, and then adding on to it. Other times it may be a concept or a melody that comes to mind and I write it down. When I’m in the studio writing I may go back to that thought and record something. There is no set way that I create music. If it’s a movie or something I am scoring then I will have the script and read through it. Take some time to digest it and see what comes to mind. Sometimes it happens right away and other times it wakes me up out of my sleep …and I end up recording scratch vocals with a deep voice sounding like Barry White.

Picture from "Blacked Out" music video.  Directed by Tony Güembes & Cinematographer Chris Monberg.

LRM: Do you write your own songs?
Shaunté: Yes, I write and co-produce my music. Building the two go hand-in-hand to me because both the music and the lyrics tell a story.
LRM: What came first, music or acting?
Shaunté: I would have to say for me music came first for sure, but I didn’t understand the art of music and writing until much later. All I knew growing up was that I could sing and hold a note. But I didn’t realize until later that when I would read the grocery list hanging on the refrigerator and start singing about the fruit, vegetables and orange juice on the list that I was actually creating melodies. My dad plays piano and my family sings, so I was always around music- but no one was a songwriter. I was just familiar with singing and church and the big stars on television. The knowledge of the art and what I was actually doing naturally came much later. In my younger years I just knew I loved adventure stories, creative writing and history class. I didn’t know I would be a songwriter. The acting came after.
LRM: Is there a story that you want to tell with your music?
Shaunté: Oh yes, there is always a story being told and a feeling I want to translate through the music. Music and lyrics to me are scores. That’s why I love movies so much. The scenes were always heightened because of the score. It’s like when you are in church and praise and worship is going on the mood is always heightened, more intimate and impactful. It brings you into the moment. That’s what I love about music, and I wanted to create stories. Lyrical stories with sound that was like a score. I honestly just stayed true to me and my sound and didn’t care what others said would or would not be a “radio hit” and did what felt natural and this is the sound that came about.

Picture from "Phoenix" music video.  Directed by Tony Güembes & Cinematographer Chris Monberg.

LRM: Where did your passion for music come from?
Shaunté: I had always been around music. I didn’t know it was such a passion of mine until I actually ran from it and God brought me back to it. I have always been a thinker and a writer, a creative by nature. The industry and its ugliness and lack of integrity was just a dark disappointing world, so I told the Lord that I didn’t want to do music anymore. So the doors opened and I transitioned into writing and doing work behind the camera. That didn’t last for long though. I went into a meeting to pitch a commercial idea I had been working on and they stopped the meeting and said right then and there, “So we heard you can sing”. I had just self-taped auditioned for one of Tyler Perry’s films at the time, so the only song in my head was “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cook. So I sang that and about four bars in they stopped me again and made a call to some big music people. That’s pretty much when I realized ok Lord this is something you want me to do. So I said to God, “Ok if you really want me to do this, you’re going to have to help me.” And He did. I spent the next year just writing and writing and writing music. Learning my craft and developing my gift. It was me accepting my gifts and purpose that made it my passion.
LRM: Who is Shaunté Usual and why should people know her?
Shaunté: I truly love to love. I care about people and their story. I am a giver and love to laugh and just be silly. But, the other side to that is that I am a huge romantic. Just in general I enjoy romance and beautiful things like flowers and the ocean, the sky, trees, long scenic drives, traveling, drinking chai tea in cute mugs. And then I love sports and yelling at the television when the team loses! I mean I just love life. And all the pralines-n-cream ice cream and Dulce de Leche cheesecake I can get. I love food. But, seriously, I only get one chance at life, so I choose to enjoy it the best I can and take in every moment- present and aware. At least I try my best to. Not always easy. Life isn’t easy, but I try. And it’s the trying that makes those moments so sweet and priceless. | FACEBOOK: ShaunteUsual | Twitter: ShaunteUsual | IG: ShaunteUsual

From "Phoenix" music video.  Directed by Tony Güembes & Cinematographer Chris Monberg.

bottom of page