ARTIST + ACTIVIST SHUNGUDZO

Artist and activist Shungudzo isn’t afraid to speak her mind or show her vulnerability which in our eyes, is power. Saying goodbye to 2020 she left us all with an ode to the future, with her song “It’s a good day to fight the system,” no doubt the anthem to all that is and was 2020.

Shungudzo has already released two song in 2021; “We will always have this dance” by KUU and her single “To Be Me” a response to a moment that triggered a memory.To Be Me, is in response to a guy who followed me in his car, flirting out the window, giving me flashbacks to being sexually violated. I wanted to tell him to fuck off… I wanted to tell him that he was making me fear for my life… but I was afraid to damage his ego and potentially put myself in a worse situation. By the time I got home, my frustration over not speaking up for myself was so intense I could feel my heartbeat in my head. I started writing To Be Me to calm and re-empower myself. The song grew into something so much more than I set out to create.

Shungudzo creates to elevate voices; hers, mine, yours, ours. Her messages come from truth, raw experience and it shows. Her words put to melody, used for a purpose greater than herself is what the power of music is really about. These days music is losing its authenticity, with lyrics that promote less than healthy perspective of ourselves, our peers and what is actually important out of life. Listening to music that has a dope beat is one thing, but are we paying attention to the message it is feeding our ‘oh so’ hungry and often cruel subconscious?

With ear gems that resonate with the mind, body and soul, Shungudzo brings listeners a collection of music that examines life and all its nuances. The Zimbabwean-American singer has already made an impact on music lovers with almost a million monthly listeners on Spotify. In addition to her own poetry and songwriting, Shungudzo has written for the likes of Little Mix, Chiiild, and Jessie Ware among others. She is also a talented dancer as seen in the videos, and was the first female artistic gymnast of color to compete on the Zimbabwean National Team.

My greatest struggle in this industry is making a living and the personal insecurity that comes from financial insecurity. What gets me through it is detaching my self worth from money and reminding myself that money isn’t why I make music. I make it to do my part to leave the world a little better than I found it and I know that if I don’t let my insecurities get the best of me, I will.

2020 was a revolutionary year in culture. What were your top 3 moments?

S:  All three of my top three moments involve the power of people coming together for a common good: (1.)To see so many people come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement — not just as observers, but as participants. (2.) To see Biden/Harris win the election, and to know that it was a direct result of grassroots movements and the people feeling empowered. Also to feel a collective “eureka” moment when it comes to the importance of local elections and how much our votes really matter. (3.) To feel a wave of collective consciousness in music, and a growing, communal understanding of the importance of art as protest. 

 When did you know you wanted to be a singer/producer? What has been your greatest struggle and accomplishment in this industry? 

S: I knew I wanted to use words to make a difference as a kid, and wrote a lot of poems and short stories but it didn’t fully occur to me that I could become an artist, rather than follow a more “traditional” path, until I was in college. Even then, I struggled with feeling confident in my decision — not wanting to seem ungrateful for the sacrifices my parents made so I could get an education, not wanting to someday be unable to help my family out, and not wanting to be looked down upon by my more “sensible” peers.  

At a certain point, I fully latched onto the idea that great things come from great risks, and took the leap into becoming a full-time musician. I seem to keep finding myself at forks in the road that involve choosing either the safe path or the risky one. I try my best to always choose the risk, if it’s the only visible road to my purpose. Like, one road might be easier and take me somewhere beautiful, but if it’s not where I wanna go, I’m always willing to take the longer, harder journey. There are so many more pleasant surprises and so much more growth to encounter along the way. 

My greatest struggle in this industry is making a living and the personal insecurity that comes from financial insecurity. What gets me through it is detaching my self worth from money and reminding myself that money isn’t why I make music. I make it to do my part to leave the world a little better than I found it and I know that if I don’t let my insecurities get the best of me, I will.

If your life was a movie what would it be?

S: Toy Story 4. Rejection, uncertainty, adventure, optimism and ultimately lots of tears of joy. I love crying tears of joy. And once a movie’s gotten me once, anything cute can set them off. 

What is your favorite strain? 

S: To be honest, I’m still looking for my favorite strain. A friend of mine told me that I should grow my own plant, and that through spending so much time together, she’ll naturally produce the perfect strain for me. I’m gonna try it next growing season, save some of the weed for myself, and give most of it away as I’m not a heavy smoker.  I’m that person who likes to smoke but doesn’t wanna get high. I like the perfectly relaxed and meditative state that comes with taking a single hit. 

I also love Peacemaker — a CBD flower that I get online from Fern Valley Farms. Last time I smoked it, I danced to Radiohead in my living room for an hour. It tastes great and puts me at peace. It also makes all of the little tensions in my body melt away. CBD is an amazing medicine, and I highly recommend it to people who want healing without getting high. 

What is your dream performance? 

S: I really wanna open up for Michael Kiwanuka. I keep saying it out loud to everyone I know and even to the sky, in hopes of manifesting it. I will manifest it! And then I’d love to get to a point where I can tour on my own and offer up-and-coming artists the same generosity that was offered to me by Michael Kiwanuka. I had to say it again. Please say it with me! I need all of the manifestation help I can get! 

If you could share a joint with anyone, dead or alive who would it be with? Set the stage.

S: I’d like to share a joint with myself 10 years ago. We’d listen to the soundtrack of an old movie — a beautiful orchestra playing deeply  — and I’d reassure myself that the future gets brighter. Then I’d give myself a long hug and we’d cry tears of joy together. 

What does a Stoned Fox mean to you?

S: I love that y’all are committed to normalizing something that has been demonized for too long. That by openly discussing cannabis culture, you’re opening people’s minds to making personal and political changes that’ll free a lot of people — both those physically imprisoned in the system and those mentally imprisoned in their minds.

@shungudzo

Written by @stonedfoxmedia

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