Sherry aka Ashirah Sounds | Recording Artist, Composer and Filmmaker | Passionate about creative expression that uplifts others | London, UK |
1) THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS? It has to be all the time I was able to take for myself during the pandemic. I wear lots of hats and like to keep busy so it was a huge blessing to focus on my own projects, spend more time practicing vocals and piano, develop myself as a filmmaker and make unexpected international connections via zoom. I developed a 2 hour morning routine of yoga, meditation and prayer before work to replace travel and get ready time. It was bliss. It was wonderful to slow down, get enough sleep, not push myself so hard all the time. The challenge now is to stay balanced as the world opens up again!
photo by: asiko
2) THE WORST THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS? Being away from friends/ family and not being able to socialise in the same way got quite tough for me, especially during the winter lockdown. As much as I love my own company, I realise in all of the madness of the past year that social contact is essential to health and well being. I was lucky to have a few local friends that were willing to wrap up and walk in the park until our toes froze! Don't know what I would have done without that.
3) YOUR BIGGEST WISH FOR THE NEAR FUTURE?
I'm working on a documentary and soundtrack album about reconnecting with my Kenyan heritage. My big wish is to get that project across the line and for it to reach a large audience across the African diaspora. It's been the biggest thing I've ever done, such an adventure and a challenge. It explores colonialism and the erasure of African history and being such a personal journey, I'm really excited about getting to share it with the world in the not too distant future.
4) YOUR BIGGEST WORRY FOR THE NEAR FUTURE?
I think my biggest worry overall is that the world will be worse off as a result of the pandemic. We've managed to pull through the worst of Covid in the UK, but I'm really hoping that there isn't a huge fallout with the looming recession. The music industry has been badly impacted with not much support given to keep businesses and freelancers afloat, so I really hope we can recover.
5) A CONTEMPORARY WOMAN YOU CURRENTLY ADMIRE? How contemporary are we talking here? So many of the women I admire are no longer with us, like Maya Angelou and Miriam Makeba. So I'll settle on my mum. She's a real powerhouse who fought off cancer and kidney disease and through it all, she's been there for her family in the UK and is very supportive of her community in Kenya. People out there have named their kids after her because she helped them with school fees and medical bills, all whilst being a single mum. So I aspire to be like that. Someone consistently caring and stoic. But I also aspire to be as intrepid and fearless as Maya Angelou.
6) A ONE-SENTENCE MESSAGE TO OTHER WOMEN? If you place a low value on yourself, rest assured the world will not raise your price.
THE WORLD HAS BEEN CHANGING DRAMATICALLY IN RECENT MONTHS: 7) HOW ARE YOU COPING? Much better now that restrictions are easing! Part of me relished in the quietude of lockdown but it's brilliant to venture past my local surroundings, hug people, party, eat out far too much and get a post covid belly. 8) WHICH CHANGE OR EVENT HAS AFFECTED YOU THE MOST / HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU PERSONALLY? The Black Lives Matter Protests in 2020 caused a massive shift in my thinking. I mentor young people who are from African and Caribbean backgrounds and seeing what happened really challenged me to step up in terms of how I deliver as a mentor, and also an artist. It's incredibly important for artists to reflect the times and now I'm unapologetically expressing my blackness and womanhood with the hope that others will be empowered too. 9) WHAT ARE YOU MOST CONCERNED ABOUT THE RIGHT NOW? I'm concerned about division in society and the age-old strategy of divide and rule, with white working classes being pitted against immigrants and brown people while so many of the ruling classes plunder our wealth and ravage the environment with impunity. I can only imagine how much power we could wield if we united as a community, stopped being influenced by divisive tabloids, blaming the blameless and held systems of power accountable for their actions. When I think about other countries placing the well being of their citizens above GDP, I hold onto the hope that we don't have to be victims of greed. We can absolutely be better, and do better.