Billboard’s charts – whether it’s the top-100 or any of the genre-specific or sub-charts – are littered mega-stars. Occasionally you’ll find a “new” artist or band, but most of them have the backing of a major label. Then there is Shelita Burke, who continues to find her name among the massive trees despite being 100% independent. She is, as said back in July 2017 when we premiered “Penetrate (Part 2)”, “an indie music DIY success story”.
Her EP, Special, which included the mesmerizing “Drive” and “Photograph”, also became hit. It has amassed over 20 million streams across all platforms and reached #10 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart (Pacific) and #24 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart (Main). Just as an artist, Billboard listed her as the 15th “Next Big Sound” artist. The accolades will continue today, as Burke – who now refers to herself as just Shelita – releases her latest single, “Hola”, which we again have the privilege of sharing with the world.
In an era where many R&B and pop musicians attempt to replicate Beyoncé, Drake, or Taylor Swift, Burke is creating her own space. In all of her songs, she does the opposite of many artists, where she keeps the production work restrained and minimalist instead of heavy-handed and over-the-top. On “Hola”, the subtle approach results in a sultry but dark soundscape that feels like we’re walking in the corridors of the most exclusive, underground clubs of Paris, Miami, and Tokyo. These are the places where the blackness is infused with dim neon lights and the florescent outlines of the people who adorn the hallway.
Yet there is much more to the song, as Argentinian and Spanish influences are heard in the rhythms and Burke’s delivery. The inspiration for taking a more Latin approach and the overall tone of the song comes from a real-life experience. As Shelita explains:
“You can dream about moments and you can be in the moment at the same time as you are dreaming about it, but the love transfers as each moment passes. It is also about creating new moments through movement and falling in love with that over and over again with each new movement. With this song I was in a place where I was doing nuevo tango with someone and channeling the feelings of wanting to be with the other person in that moment. At any moment, the song could end, and the love that was felt between us through movement goes with them as they dance with the next partner. When you dance nuevo tango, there is a physical closeness with that person, but there is also psychological closeness that goes beyond any movement and starts translating into the wide array of the emotion.”
Now how many mainstream artists would put so much thought into their music? Shelita Burke is one of a kind, and the world is finally embracing her ingenuity.
Hear “Hola” below. Shelita is performing at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood tonight (Friday, March 9th). Get tickets here.
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