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“As she started to play, I instantly pictured her on a dark stage, lit by a single spotlight in an auditorium filled with thousands of fans…”

– Fiona Gordon, Cue, National Arts Festival Review, June 2010.

Award-winning pianist, vocal artist and motivational performer, Shannon Hope, has been tugging on South African heart strings since the release of her debut solo album in 2009, with her intriguingly powerful heart songs. In only the first six months of launching her solo career in the latter part of 2008, Miss Hope had recorded and released her debut solo album, gained playlisting on radio stations across the country, and embarked on national promotional tours, performing on some of the country’s premier music platforms with some of its most revered artists. Two independent albums and countless national tours later, she launched her international solo career with a debut tour to London in April 2013, followed a few months later by her motivational speaking debut at TEDxCapeTown where she delivered a haunting performance about the truth behind believing in and pursuing one’s dreams.

Her debut solo endeavour, entitled “S T I L L”, is a mature and remarkably honest eleven track studio album, co-produced with Tim Rankin at his Cape Town studio, and recorded in a mere five days. Released independently on 1 April 2009, this delicately moving album delivers the thoughtfully personal and often heart-wrenching sincerity of an artist whose music forces you to feel, with a voice impossible to ignore.

Having secured a full endorsement from world-renowned Japanese piano masters, Kawai, joining the ranks of artists such as One Republic and Muse’s Matthew Bellamy, Hope returned to the studio in 2011 to record the much-anticipated follow-up to her debut album, and independently released “Fight A New Day” worldwide on 31 October to critical acclaim. Lyrically-focussed and piano-based, her music falls within the vocal / singer-songwriter genres, with some elements of pop rock captured more evidently on this record. In keeping with the style and honesty of her first album, Hope delivers a slightly bigger, more driving and positive sound. “Fight A New Day” was launched in conjunction with a dream performance at The Fugard Theatre in District Six, Cape Town on 5 November 2011.

“Essentially, this record is about being brave enough to believe in yourself and your truth, and being brave enough to wake up to fight every new day despite what that day might hold,” explains Hope. “I’m very proud of this record and everything it says about where I am, where I’ve come from, what I believe in and what I’ve achieved.”

Hope’s extensive musical journey over the past two decades, through various musical incarnations, has seen her grace the esteemed stages of The Fugard Theatre, The Barnyard Theatre, Splashy Fen Festival, Woodstock SA, The White Mountain Festival, Oppikoppi, Music at the Lake, as well as The Metro Theatre in Chicago. Her brief sojourns in America in the early days of her music career earned her the opportunity of recording a five track EP in 2004, with Chicago’s high profile producer, Bjorn Thorsrud (of Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan fame).

With appearances at nearly every major festival around the country, including The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, The Hilton Arts Festival, and Aardklop Nasionale Kunstefees, and a furious countrywide touring schedule, she earned a reputation as one of the hardest-touring self-managed artists on the national circuit, delivering an intensely honest personal commentary in a vocal epic that has mesmerised audiences countrywide.

“With a sound charged with emotional intensity, Shannon Hope’s performance brought goose bumps to my skin. The powerful combination of her singing and song-writing is sure to leave any audience captured.”

– Isabel Rawlins, Cue, National Arts Festival Review, June 2010.

Awarded a Standard Bank Ovation Award by the National Arts Festival for her nine show run in July 2011 – in recognition of “artistic innovation, excellence, the exploration of new performance styles and the courage to open new conversations in the arts” – Hope shares this honour with the likes of Chris Chameleon, amongst others who were recognised for their work on the festival fringe.

In April 2013, Miss Hope embarked on her first solo tour to London, a showcase-style tour that saw her performing on stages that have hosted the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and KT Tunstall, to name a few, a tour that laid the initial groundwork for an exciting international career.

Having fought tirelessly against the challenging professional music landscape within her home country, Miss Hope was invited to speak at TEDx Cape Town in July 2013, delivering her inspiring story on this highly respected platform to a standing ovation. The 18 minute performance-based talk explored concepts of self-belief, passion, courage, determination, the definitions of success and failure, the rationalisation of fear, and the process of staying brave and believing. While still facing these challenges head-on, she continues to receive messages of encouragement and appreciation from TEDx fans around the world. In recognition of this motivational work and her staunch commitment over the past years, she was named one of the Mail & Guardian “200 Young South Africans 2014”, and a Cosmopolitan Magazine “Awesome Woman 2014”, accolades that applauded her passion and commitment to not only “living the dream”, but living who you truly are.

2013 proved to be a year of passionate creative endeavours, with Miss Hope pursuing performance collaborations that she had dreamed of since childhood. By invitation from The Playhouse Company for the South African Women’s Arts Festival, Hope teamed up with the Flatfoot Dance Company to present “Hope”, a dance collaboration choreographed by Lliane Loots and staged at the Playhouse Theatre in August 2013. Inspired by, and weaving Shannon Hope’s poignant lyrics into a contemporary dance landscape, Loots’s dance theatre work, “HOPE” is an ironic and sometimes witty encounter with the quagmire of contemporary love relationships set against Hope’s soulful blend of longing, with intelligent lyrics that lament love and heartfelt endings (and sometimes beginnings!). Described by critics as a “phenomenal performance which is sure to leave even the biggest sceptic of love with that ‘warm, fuzzy feeling’”, the collaboration earned rave reviews and repeated ovations. Shannon Hope was further honoured to a dream-come-true alliance with the Durban City Orchestra in September 2013. A selection of Hope’s songs were scored by Durban City Orchestra conductor Russell Scott, culminating in a performance at the Glenwood Proms.

Following the second run of the dance collaboration “Hope” at the Jomba Dance Festival in 2014, and in keeping with the ethos of living one’s best life, Shannon Hope stepped back from the touring circuit, having realised that her lifestyle was no longer serving her fundamental purpose and belief system. While exploring other career passions, she launched [the bedroom sessions] – a YouTube series of videos shot in the corner of her bedroom studio, offering fans a more personal and raw reflection of her work in a more honest and intimate form. The playlist includes (as yet) unreleased original material and a selection of cover songs from “D-Tuned” – a commissioned project that challenged her to reinterpret cover songs as her own, and includes tracks by The Black Keys, and The Rolling Stones, to name a few. Adding to this home studio work, Hope was also commissioned to write and record an instrumental soundtrack for the theatre performance of “JAKOB – A Fable of Light & Love”, written & directed by Michael Broderick and performed by Bryan Hiles in June 2014.

While her eventual return to the stage remains undecided, she continues to write for the next album, while advocating for the constant pursuit of authentic and passionate professional dreaming to ensure that you live with your whole heart.

“What you see when you look at her is rock ‘n roll, but what you hear when she plays is heart and soul.”

– Kgomotso Moncho, Tonight, July 2010.

Photographs by Jesse Kate Kramer
South African. Kawai Pianist. Vocal Artist. TEDx Speaker. Copywriter. Gamer. LEGO nut. Organised chaos controller. WordPress designer. Pro scuba diver and occasional mermaid.

Currently on a break from fulltime touring, Shannon Hope is utilising her other talents in digital creative spaces… but there will be another studio album, and some exclusive performances every now and then. It’s not over. It’s just different.
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