Once upon a time, on the night of October 4th, in the West Indies on the beautiful Island of Barbados, a little girl named Shontelle Delia Layne was born.
Chapter I: Childhood
Shontelle grew up with her mother Beverley, her dad Raymond, and her two younger sisters Rayana & Rhea, in a south-suburban neighborhood called Durants, in Christ Church, Barbados. The family lived in a lovely house only five minutes away from the beach.
The beach was her life, she just loved to swim, surf and pick fresh coconuts from the trees. She would literally cry and throw tantrums if the weekend came and her uncle, aunt, or dad didn’t take her to the beach. And if she found out anyone went without her. Well, let’s just say they weren’t friends for a while. Just ask uncle Don about the ‘Telly Monster’!
Shontelle, nick-named Shon, was a typical little girl. She loves to dress up, has a huge thing for shoes. She also loves to sing, dance and play with family & friends. Shontelle also loves animals, her heart melts when she’s around them, especially dogs. Her first one was named Magnum, She loved to play with him in the garden.
When mommy Layne baked, Shon was always here to lick the bowl (she still does!) And after a long journey, when it’s time to go to bed, she loves to read “Three Billy Goats Gruff” before heading all the way over to dream land. It was her favorite bedtime story.
Chapter II: “Please, come out and sing”
Shontelle is passionate about music, she was born into it. Music flows in her veins. Her mum and aunt Kim Derrick were popular and celebrated artists in Barbados. She used to go to watch her aunt perform with her band on weekends and little did she know she’ll be joining her aunt on stage a few years later.
Shontelle wrote her very first song when she was 10 years old. It was a song called “I Love You.” Shon also loves to re-enact Disney movies. Obsessed by The Little Mermaid, she used to always sing it’s songs, but she was too shy to sing out loud that she used to hide in the closet to sing. Little did she know, Everyone, Including her Neighbors could hear her singing. But one day, Beverley, her mum, came into Shon’s room and said: “Shontelle, sweetheart. Why are you hiding? Why are you hiding the beautiful voice that God gave you? Please, come out and sing. Sing loud! The neighbors can already hear you. One day, the whole world will…” That was just what Shontelle needed to hear!
Shontelle always knew music would be her life, she just loved singing and writing. She knew she will never have an office job and will never work from nine to five. She even said: “I’m going to sing and rap and DJ and produce and dance and act! I’m going to do all of that. I’m going to make the world stop with my voice like Whitney Houston , work with Timbaland and Rodney Jerkins and Rockwilder. I’m going to meet Jay-Z and Destiny’s Child. I’m going to write songs with Stevie Wonder and Wyclef and sing with Sting one day. I’m going to be like Michael Jackson and heal the world with my songs. I want to bring joy to people’s hearts and be their shoulder to lean on and their voice of reason when it gets dark and they can’t see” Yeah, She said all that!
How did her Mother react to that? Well, she couldn’t tell her little girl that things like this doesn’t happen to people from Barbados? Shon’s her baby. She hid the fear in her eyes with a smile and said: “Well, you can do anything in this world you so desire. You have to believe in yourself, even when the world doesn’t believe in you. You will have to work so hard if you want to be the best. You can never give up.”
She once told her mum that she wanted to be the Caribbean version of Missy, because Missy can sing, rap, dance, write, and produce. She wanted to be just like her, she does everything. It make me laugh cause her Mother’s answer to that was “You better Missy Elliott yourself to school!”
Chapter III: Teenage
Throughout Shontelle’s childhood her family moved a lot until they finally settled in Bagatelle, St. James on the west coast of Barbados.
Shon was an active and competitive kid. She went to Harrisson college, and made the Barbados swim team, as well as the Barbados track and field team. She was the best at the breast stroke and the freestyle but her fave by far was the butterfly. Her room as a teenager was filled with Sport medals and trophies. A true champion!
Shontelle was a natural leader she was opinionated, loyal to her friends, hated to do the dishes, a tomboy, driven, a typical teenager, which include that little touch of rebellion, Ask her about The tattoo!
While in high school Shontelle attended “Cadets” camp (At Combemere School) were she served as drill sergeant over a newcomer by the name of Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Little did she know they’d both be achieving the same careers one day. Did she ever had to give Rihanna some push-up? Oh Yes! As a drill sergeant, discipline must be applied. Once a group of cadets including Rihanna were late, Shontelle didn’t let it slide and had them do 10 push-ups. But Rihanna forgave her, They’ll even work together a few years later.
When Shontelle made the decision to attend the University of the West Indies she chose to pursue a degree in entertainment law, she had no clue that her life will be shaken, and that she’ll have to take an important decision, and that the next upcoming years of her life will be very fast.
Chapter IV: The Begining
At school, she would hang out in the music room all the time. She started out carving a reputation for herself in the Caribbean music world by creating songs for a number of top artists, all while attending University. One thing led to another, and before she knew it, Shontelle was asked to write for Allison Hinds, a huge local artist. She wrote the song “Roll It” a female empowerment-anthem deemed to be come a huge hit to eventauly be heard by producers Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken of SRP Records. The same guys who discovered Rihanna.
Following the success of her popular song for Alison Hinds, Shontelle went on to perform with other local artists. She scored another island hit entitled “Colours” which she recorded as a duet with Natahlee Burke.
In 2007 Shontelle left her home, family and entire life behind to pursue a music career in New York City where she successfully auditioned for The American Musical and Dramatic Academy [AMDA] where she nabbed a scholarship. After that, she stayed with her cousin in Tribeca for the week of shows and parties leading up to Labor Day Carnival because she had written those two very successful Soca songs; ‘Roll It’ (Alison Hinds) and ‘Colors’ (Herself and Natahlee Burke).
The day before she returned to Barbados, Shontelle got a surprise call from Evan Rogers, saying he heard some of her songs and wanted to meet her. That same day, accompanied by her aunt, Shon rushed to the Loft Recording Studios, SRP’s home-base in Bronxville, New York. After a great meeting with Evan and his partner Carl Sturken, SRP and Shon teamed up and put together a demo package. Then, she flew around the country meeting with executives from the world’s top labels and eventually decided to sign to Steve Rifkind’s SRC Records. Steve was the most passionate about her project, and she really just liked him and the staff and artists there.Rifkind had a contract proposal on the table the next day! Shon felt at home at SRC…And, that’s where she stayed. A period she describe as one of the defining moments of her life.
Shontelle began work on her debut studio album in early 2008. The album’s title was given to her by the album’s engineer who used the word “shontelligence” as a joke after Shontelle and her producers were playing a game that involved making up words from her name. She released her first single “T-Shirt” in July 2008, which became a hit. Her second single ‘Stuck With Each Other’ feat Akon, was choosen as the soundtrack for Confessions of a Shopaholic . She has also weighed in on the hotly contested political landscape, with the song “Battle Cry”, that served as the voice of the grassroots movement for President-Elect Barack Obama and was also featured on the compilation album ‘Yes We Can: Voices of Grass Roots Movement’. What a privilege!
In 2009, Shontelle was choosen by Beyonce as support act for her “I Am… Tour”. A moment she described as the “most epic” experience of her little old career. Queen B, please! She received great inspiring advice from beyonce, got to meet such epic people every single night, like Bono, George Michael, Jay-Z, Katy Perry and more ! She even got to meet Sade in front of her dressing room, after a performance. Shontelle didn’t believe that Sade, was actually there waiting for her, to compliment her on her performance. Shon almost passed out.
Shontelle also co-wrote “Man Down” for Rihanna, which is obviously the most successful collaboration between the two Barbadian singers. They’ve previously worked together on several project: “Roll It”, a song Shontelle wrote, and sang in collaboration with Rihanna and J-Status, on the official “Unfaithful ” Reggae remix, and on the Save The Last Dance 2 soundtrack with a song called “The Hotness .
One thing led to another, and in 2010, Shontelle’s much-anticipated second album, No Gravity, was released with “Impossible” as the first leading single. Which has since become her most successful single to date. She joined Jason Derulo on his UK tour and made lot of appearane around the world to perform and meet with fans. And she also made an appearance in Coke Studio Arabia alongside Saber Al Rubai & Cairokee.
In 2011, Shontelle was awared global ambassador of Liberia by Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 2012 Nobel peace laureate and President of the Republic of Liberia. Shontelle is involved with various charities, especially drawn to charities which concentrate on causes affecting children and women. (She’s The First, UNICEF, Think Pink, AMFAR, GEMS, AAW PEACE, …) She has always been motivated, inspired, and driven by the beauty and strength of women. Anyone who knows her knows that children are her ultimate weakness. She becomes one of them when She’s around them.
In addition to work on her third studio album, Shontelle made her first steps in the fashion industry, her second passion. She has been working on a a footwear collection. As a creative director, Shontelle started a collaboration with CAT women’s Footwear, and designed the new Autum/Winter 2012 collection. A line that embodies the same confidence and fearlessness as their namesake. It’s all about FaSHON!
Chapter V: A dream came true!
Today, Shontelle has achieved most of her goals. She’s a Multi-Platinum Recording Artist, Grammy-Nominated Songwriter/Producer and even started her debut in the Fashion industry as creative director for Cat Footwear. She’ll soon release her third studio album. Lets see what’s instored for years to come, because all I can say is that she is unstoppable!
From a tiny island in the carribean to the world, Shontelle has proved that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!