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Shaunelle Mckenzie

shaunelle

Inspired by her father Gosnel Cupid who is a panman and calypsonian, Shaunelle McKenzie started singing old calypsos and recording them on a cassette recorder. She was then a mere child. A little later at the age of nine her school teachers selected her from a group of students they had asked to audition for a chance to represent their school in the National Primary Calypso Competition. As part of the school’s auditioning process each child was required to sing the same song. Shaunelle outshone all her schoolmates and earned the right to represent the school which she did with excellence. Supported by her father and her mother Hazell-Ann McKenzie, performing under the sobriquet Singing Shaunelle, she went on to win that competition in 1993 on her first attempt, and again in 1994 and 1995, bringing the school a hat trick of victories and making hers a household name in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. At that point, she gracefully relegated her accomplished father to her shadows. Her great potential was evident. She was blessed with a sweet melodious full ranged singing voice buttressed by clarity, diction and a dynamic and charismatic personality. Even at that time she delivered with the craftsmanship of the veterans, providing a stunning and convincing entertainment package on stage.

In 1996, she represented the St.Joseph’s Convent Kingstown in the Secondary Schools’ Calypso Competition, and went straight into winner’s row. In 1997 and 1998, she attained third place on each occasion and then returned to winner’s row in 1999 to 2002, earning four consecutive crowns, bringing her total of victories to eight. In addition while in secondary school she placed second in the OECS Junior Calypso Monarch Competition. Her determination, ambition and drive to succeed become evident when she explains that the last of her record breaking eight victories was the sweetest one. Of this victory she said “It was the last time that I was competing as a junior and it was also an opportunity to break Sheller’s record of seven crowns. I fought for that one the most; I put more into my preparations, rehearsals and performance”.shaunelle2

In 2002, while still at the Community College and preparing for final A’Level examinations, she started singing as a lead vocalist with the band New Direction based in Bequia. Keeping a gruelling schedule of rehearsals and performances for approximately a year and a half, she travelled between Bequia and the mainland and even toured the US Virgin Islands and Carriacou, while maintaining a keen focus on her academics.

After leaving school she joined what was at that time one of St.Vincent and the Grenadines’ leading bands Blaksand and between 2003 and 2005 she toured North America with a very successful stint as one of the lead vocalists of the band. The band changed its name to Hottsand and eventually in 2007 the band morphed into HS Phaktor of which she became a part owner. During that time she re-branded herself Shaunelle McKenzie and established herself as SVG’s leading soca diva with a string of solo hits.

Along with her father, Shaunelle is one of cast members of the Upstage Xperience calypso tent.

Her calypso and soca hits include Sesame Hospital, Breakdown the Barriers, We Don’t Like We, Don’t ‘Fraid the Bumper, Hot and Crazy with Maddzart, Don’t let me go and Player’s Anthem which she sang for the number one Mas Band in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, SVG Players International.

Shaunelle is very active in the Vincentian community and engages in many aspects of community work.   She willingly performs, on a volunteer basis, for charity events and schools, and makes donations wherever possible. She is also a member of Artistes Against Aids, raising funds for the House of Hope.

Shaunelle is an outstanding role model, who doubles as a motivational speaker, with a focus on students and youth. During her school years she worked on the D.A.R.E. Programme with the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Police Service.

In her typical humble style, she regrets having to give up playing pan in the Potential Steel Orchestra in her hometown of Calliaqua, but admits that she must find time for her three year old baby girl and all her other interests.

A veteran of 22 years, Shaunelle is only 31 years old. She is well on the way to emulating the persons she admires most, Singing Sandra, Calypso Rose, David Rudder and Edwin Yearwood. She now has her sights set on an international hit.

She is now a Junior Accountant at the Mustique Company Ltd, currently pursuing her ACCA qualification. In 2012 Shaunelle placed 3rd at the Soca Monarch competition and 3rd in the road march competition in St Vincent. In 2013 she was 3rd in the National Calypso Monarch and also 4th in the same competition in 2014.