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Starshell 20 THINGS INTERVIEW

November 9, 2010

Starshell is an accomplished songwriter who has co-penned several songs, most notably "Love Lockdown" for Kanye West, and "Can See in Color" and "Closer" for Blige. The former was featured in the Oscar-nominated film, "Precious" while the later is one of numerous highlights on Blige's latest album, "Stronger With Each Tear"

Now, though, Starshell has her sights set on making the transition from writing songs for others to singing her own songs. Witness "Superluva" the first single from Starshell's as-yet-untitled debut album. Produced by Fernando Garibay, the feisty electro-pop jam sounds right at home alongside recent #1s by Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Ke$ha.

"It's about the 80s, about going out and having fun" Starshell says of "Superluva" The song is the perfect soundtrack for Starshell, who describes herself as a girl who wants to have fun.

In fact, it is an upbeat, 80s sensibility that permeates many of the songs on the singer's upcoming album. Starshell cannot help but namedrop such iconic bands as Blondie, Duran Duran and the Human League when discussing her album. "My album has similar vibes to what they were doing," Starshell says. It reflects the feelings I had when I heard certain records growing up.

For Starshell, the album is very much like a movie. It's the story of a relationship, she says. Vulnerable girl meets boy, falls in love with boy, only to have heart broken by boy. But, explains Starshell, it's all done in a non-gloomy way. I don't want dark and depressed. I want color-even in the blues. It's a melancholic record, but you wouldn't know that by hearing the songs. To achieve this colorful feat, Starshell worked with, in addition to Garibay, such beat-savvy producers as will.i.am, Martin Kierszenbaum, Ron Fair, Scott Storch, Range, Ne-Yo, Jeff Bhasker and Ron Neffu Feemster.

Song titles like "Happy Now" Caught in a Lie and "Absentee" offer not-so-subtle cues into the album's storytelling arc. The album closes with the emotionally charged "My Star" which Starshell wrote with Ne-Yo.Says Mary J. Blige, "Starshell is not someone who wanted to be a star, she always knew she would be. She knew what she wanted then and she knows exactly what she wants now. She has a beautiful spirit, a beautiful heart and so much integrity and intelligence. I admire her will to be positive no matter what things may look like. She knows its going to always work out. She's destined and determined to be the best she can be in everything she does. God bless her."

Starshell was born and raised in Lowell, Mass., just north of Boston. With a French/ Portuguese Brazilian mom and an African American dad, she calls herself a melting pot of goodies. A true product of the 80s, Starshell received her musical education and training by avidly watching Soul Train and MTV. She says she couldn't take her eyes and ears off Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince and Whitney Houston. I remember watching music videos for hours and hours, studying each adlib and dance move, Starshell says.

By the time she was five-years-old, Starshell was singing her mom's favorite song, Karyn White's "Superwoman, on her Nan's coffee table at family gatherings. I'd walk the coffee table like it was a runway, Starshell says with a smile. I'd pick up a hairbrush or a can of beans and sing that song like a true artist. With an encouraging mom by her side, Starshell began appearing in commercials and in numerous after-school specials on the Disney Channel. Hopefully, this stuff will not show up on Youtube one day, the singer says with a laugh.At 10-years-old, she joined a church choir. Her first solo was Think Big. Starshell says she was born to sing. As a young child, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I always felt natural singing, dancing and performing. Still, she explains, when you're from Lowell, you don't think big, you don't think you can make it. So, I never thought I could actually do it. That is, until she visited a high school friend's home. He lived in a house with two parents. I had never seen that before, Starshell says. There was an indoor pool. I thought these kinds of things existed only on TV. Ever since then, my mind was made up. I can make any dream come true. With scholarships in hand, at the tender age of 16, Starshell went to George Washington University, where she majored in psychology and business. In her down time, Starshell began writing songs with Tremaine Lewis, son of Terry Lewis (of songwriting/production duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis). I figured out quickly that I wanted to live in New York, she says. Upon graduation, Starshell packed her bags, migrated to the city that never sleeps and began putting together her demo.

"There is a social network here, Starshell notes. "Everyone's a producer, everyone's a singer, everyone's a something. You get in the right circle-or the wrong ones-and you pull from everywhere. I'd hook up with producers and write to their tracks. I loved writing. I learned how to do ProTools. I was meeting a lot of people in the music industry. In the spring of 2008 by 19 yrs old, a friend introduced Starshell to Kendu Isaacs, TK of Matriarch Records and Mary J. Blige's husband.

I fell in love with her passion and drive, Kendu says. I could hear what she was trying to do on her demo. I saw past the raw vocals and production. I was impressed that she did it all on her own. So I asked her if she was signed to a production company or a record label. She said, no. I immediately told Mary.

Days later, Starshell was in a studio with Mary and Kendu. Marsha Ambrosius of British R&B duo Floetry was there, too. The three women bonded, carrying on like old friends. An impromptu writing session ensued. A couple months later, Starshell signed with Matriarch, which then signed a promotion and distribution deal with Geffen for its new artist.

Between then and now, Starshell was given a crash course in artist development. I watched how Mary worked, she says. I've seen her get up at 6 am for interviews. I've watched her and Kendu put together a tour. All the things I've learned are priceless.

When Mary asked Starshell about her musical style, Starshell put it this way: I listened to No Doubt and "Reasonable Doubt" by Jay Z. I listened to Alanis Morissette and Share My World by Mary. Does that make me R&B? Hip-Hop? Alternative? Pop? My generation is a melting pot of all this stuff. What I don't want is to be pigeonholed as this or that. I'm simply taking what I like and infusing it with new things, then taking the music in another direction. Pausing for a moment, she adds, I am what I am. I'm just being me.

20 Things You Should Know About Starshell

01. I have a blackberry and an iPhone and only use certain functions on
each.
02. I plan to raise more awareness in the area of suicide prevention.
03. I still watch old episodes of Ren and Stimpy sometimes to laugh.
04. When I was younger I wished I had bone straight hair.
05. Leonardo da Vinci inspires me.
06. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman was my definition of flawlessness.
07. My first car was a convertible VW rabbit
08. I'm in London for the first time and lovin it.
09. I dance in the mirror while getting dressed... still.
10. When I write a song I can see the movie of the lyrics in my mind as I
write.
11. I love watching LMN
12. I wish to have a house on Star Island in Miami
13. I feel most at home on tropical islands.
14. I'm an extreme optimist
15. My baby doggie's name is Lady.
16. I live for my Nicholas Kirkwood lace boots this season.
17. Music, fashion and Girl Power run my world
18. My mom knows more about me than anyone in this universe.
19. I am a picky eater.
20.I can sit for hours listening to Prince's genius musical arrangements.
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