Shingai Shoniwa

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Shingai Shoniwa in Atlanta, 2007
Shingai Shoniwa in Atlanta, 2007
Background information
Birth nameShingai Elizabeth Maria Shoniwa
Born (1981-09-01) 1 September 1981 (age 41)
Lewisham, London, England[1]
  • Singer
  • musician
  • songwriter
  • actress
Years active2006–present

Shingai Elizabeth Maria Shoniwa[2] (/ʃɪŋˈɡ/ shing-GHY; born 1 September 1981), known professionally as Shingai is a Zimbabwean-British[3] singer, songwriter, musician, and actress, best known as the vocalist and bassist for the English indie rock band Noisettes. In 2017, she launched her solo career and released her debut solo album in 2020.

Early life[edit]

Shingai was born and grew up in Lewisham, South East London.[4] Her parents are both Zimbabweans who migrated to the United Kingdom. That experience, Shoniwa says, informs her music. "Wanting to escape from reality can inspire the greatest and most trivial creative natures in people," and "I think escapism is something that connects all of us. Everybody has their own little soundtrack, and I guess I’m trying to make my own soundtrack to my escape plan. I want people to realise that there's so much more."[5] Her first name, Shingai, means "be bold/courageous/strong" in the Shona language.[6][7]

She first wanted to be an actress, and for a while joined the Lost Vagueness crew as a burlesque performer.[8][9][10] She studied circus skills at a London youth club as a teenager.[8] When she graduated, she attended art school and dabbled in local theatre. Her classmate and friend, Dan Smith, would hold what she called "ridiculous jam sessions — too many people strumming broken guitars thinking they're Syd Barrett". She then went on to study at the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon.[11] One day she joined him singing, and the two quickly formed a group called the Noisettes.[11] Their first release in 2002 was on a compilation called "Raison D'Etre London Vol 1" Compiled by Yvan Serrano (Dustaphonics) regrouping some of London's up and coming artists, also featuring Charlie Winston among others.

Music career[edit]

Critical response to Shingai's performance has largely been positive. Rolling Stone magazine said that "Shingai is a living, breathing manifestation of the rock & roll spirit, with a voice that is equal parts Iggy Pop and Billie Holiday."[12] In her stage persona, Shingai looks like what the New Yorker called "an African supermodel",[8] and she frequently performs in bare feet while wearing face paint or fur hats on stage.[8]

Shingai has provided backing vocals for different indie rock, electronic, and punk rock artists including, Guillemots with their song "Made Up Love Song #43" and "Over the Stairs". Shingai made an appearance on Annie Lennox's 2007 album, Songs Of Mass Destruction on the single "Sing". The track, about the fight against HIV and AIDS, included 22 other renowned female artists such as Madonna, Melissa Etheridge, Gladys Knight, and Celine Dion.[13]

Shingai, along with Patti Smith and Juliette Lewis, helped celebrate Jack Daniel's birthday in Lynchburg, Tennessee on 13 October 2007. The three were joined by The New Silver Cornet Band for the show, which took place at the company's distillery. The event was part of the 157th birthday celebrations for Jack Daniel, who was born in September 1850. The Birthday JD Set opened to specially invited guests and competition winners only.[14]

On 19 November 2009, Shingai performed with rapper Dizzee Rascal at the Royal Albert Hall for an event to raise money for charity. Additional collaboration of Shingai with Rascal related to a version of the latter's song "Holiday".

Shingai is credited for vocals of Dennis Ferrer's "Hey Hey" dance/house track, released in late November 2009.

On 31 December 2009 Shingai was featured in the Annual Hootenanny 2010 show (aired by BBC), where she performed together with Jools Holland a version of "Don't Upset the Rhythm" and contributed to the vocals of tail-song "Down By The Riverside".

In 2013, Shingai appeared on the album Chrome Black Gold by Chrome Hoof, singing lead on four tracks. She also made appearances live with the band.[15]

She released her first solo album, Too Bold, in October 2020.[16]

On June 25, 2021 Mark Knight from Toolroom Records released his first album of original music entitled Untold Business with a track titled "Feel The Pressure" featuring Shingai on vocals.

Other endeavours[edit]

Shingai joined Amnesty International's Make Some Noise and appeared in an Instant Karma! video singing John Lennon's song "Imagine" to raise awareness for the conflict in Darfur.[17]

On 8 September 2009, Shingai appeared as a special guest on the Five discussion programme The Wright Stuff.

Shingai is also signed with NEXT Model Management in London.[18]

Shingai provides the voice of the character Teal on the CBeebies show The Adventures of Abney & Teal.

Solo discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

  • Too Bold (2020)

Extended plays[edit]

  • Ancient Futures (2019)


  • "Coming Home" (2019)
  • "Zimtron" (2019)
  • "Champion Styles" (2019)
  • "Love and Affection" (2019)
  • "War Drums" (2020)
  • "Echoes of You" (2020)
  • "We Roll" (2020)
  • "In This World" feat. DJ Lara Fraser (2021)
  • "Too Bold Remix" (2021)
  • "Echoes of You (Kenyan Remix)" (2021)
  • "War Drums (ZIM Remix)" (2021)
  • "No Fear (Birth Right)" (2021)

Noisettes discography[edit]

Studio albums




  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers: Shingai Elizabeth Maria Shoniwa". ASCAP. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Jonathan (1 August 2019). "'There are quotas': Noisettes singer Shingai Shoniwa on breaking into music". ITV News. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  4. ^ Shoniwa, Shingai (27 October 2020). "Shingai Shoniwa: 'My hair isn't intimidating – it's an expression of who I am'". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  5. ^ "Growing up music experiences". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
  6. ^ Lanham, Tom (10 May 2007). "Shingai perseverance". Paste Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2007.
  7. ^ Dingwall, John (19 October 2007), "Annie's Song Was A Joy", Daily Record. Archived 5 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b c d Frere-Jones, Sasha (16 April 2007), "THE SHONIWA SHOW". New Yorker. 83 (8):24.
  9. ^ "Shingai first wanted to be an actress". Retrieved 26 April 2007.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Fletcher, Alex (20 April 2009). "Shingai from Noisettes chats about burlesque, 'Don't Upset The Rhythm' and playing guitar with a loaf of bread". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 June 2009.
  11. ^ a b Goodman, Elizabeth (21 September 2006), "THE NOISETTES", Rolling Stone (1009):24
  12. ^ Goodman, Shingai (24 August 2006), "Noisettes", Rolling Stone (1007):93
  13. ^ "A choir of 23 renowned female artists join Annie on her new album". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2007.
  14. ^ "Jack Daniels Birthday Celebrations". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  15. ^ Tuffrey, Laurie (26 September 2013). "Chrome Hoof Set For LP Launch Shows". The Quietus. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  16. ^ Helen Jennings. "Noisettes singer Shingai debuts solo album 'Too Bold'". CNN. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save Darfu". YouTube. Archived from the original on 15 December 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
  18. ^ "Next / New York". 20 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.

External links[edit]