Shaina Shepherd

  • Seattle
Grant Season: 
  • 2022
Shaina Shepherd


Shaina Shepherd is a singer, songwriter, vocal teacher, and community organizer in Seattle, WA. Known for her pervasive style as front-woman to soul-grunge band BEARAXE, her notable vocal stylings have brought her into various creative spaces — from collaborating with Duff McKagan, Chong The Nomad and Acid Tongue to sharing stages with rock stars like Dave Matthews and Thunderpussy to being a soloist with the classical ensembles around the country. Inspired by the parallels between gospel and garbage metal, Shaina Shepherd is not your average vocalist. Living in the city where both Soundgarden and Quincy Jones cut their teeth, Shaina lends her soulful voice to projects of all genres.

Inspired by Nina Simone’s commitment to representing the times with the ivories at her fingers, Shaina Shepherd tells heartfelt stories of love, loss, and personal power. She describes herself as an anthem artist translating pivotal moments in human history through her unique form of poetry. Her biggest inspirations are often from Mark Twain, James Weldoyn Johnson, Maya Angelou. A teacher at heart, Shaina’s songs often include a moment of audience interaction or shared moments of reflection in the room. Her dynamic vocal combines the power of theater with the tender introspection of American folk music in a commitment to every song, story, and note being real, raw, and present.

Shaina grew up around gospel music and not much else. She would watch her mother sing with the church choir and emulate the steady richness of her tone. Her passion for vocal technique led her to opera, then to musical theater, and then right back to opera. Shaina studied and worked in the classical music world for many years before finding her sound as a singer and songwriter. After graduating from New York University, she was immersed in the symphony world as an administrator — working closely with classical musicians. This experience inspired her to pick an instrument and realize there are no limitations in creativity. She started playing the piano in November 2017. While finding her voice on the piano, she was finding her voice as the lead singer of Seattle prog-rock and soul band BEARAXE. BEARAXE has allowed Shepherd to hone her craft as a gospel-influenced rock artist exploring classicism, sexism, and self-care themes. And as her relationship with the piano grew, she began to weave similar themes through a lens of vulnerability and thematic strong structures akin to the operas and oratorios she studied as a new musician. Shaina’s influences include Fanny, Kurt Carr, Jeff Buckley, Leontyne Price, Quincy Jones, and above all others, Nina Simone.

Shaina is also the co-founder of The Artist Reclamation Movement, or The ARM, an organization working to reclaim the artist industry to serve the creators first, shift the culture at large to respect the contributions of creative professionals, and work to build up an artistic middle class.