Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life - Sara Fitz­patrick

FROM do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and its con­nec­tion to in­equal­ity, to sav­ing the econ­omy ver­sus pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, Perth soul songstress Shameem Ta­heri-Lee pens lyrics with a so­cial con­science.

The over­ar­ch­ing topic at play in her mu­sic is the need to elim­i­nate prej­u­dice.

A sub­ject close to her heart, the bi-racial beauty, raised in Ned­lands, has had some ex­pe­ri­ence with the is­sue.

“My mum is Ira­nian and my dad Chi­ne­seMalaysian,” Ta­heri-Lee said. “I feel that when you are bi-racial, you don’t be­long to a par­tic­u­lar group and are brought up with this feel­ing that you be­long to the whole world, not just to one coun­try.

“And then be­cause of that you start to see how peo­ple com­part­men­talise them­selves ac­cord­ing to their race or re­li­gion. Be­cause peo­ple look at me and can’t tell what my her­itage is, they can’t put me in a box, so I don’t get boxed as an Asian or a Mid­dle Eastern per­son, but peo­ple look at me and see me as an ‘other’.”

The 27-year-old Vic­to­ria Park res­i­dent said peo­ple of­ten asked where she was from.

“I say, ‘Aus­tralia’ and they re­spond with, ‘but where are you ac­tu­ally from?’,” Ta­heri-Lee said.

“I feel like re­ply­ing, ‘hang on, I be­long here as much as you’.

“Of course, this is noth­ing com­pared to what other peo­ple have to go through. One thing I’m al­ways grate­ful to my par­ents for is that we had Abo­rig­i­nal friends when I was grow­ing up, which is very un­usual for western sub­urbs peo­ple, and just see­ing the way they lived def­i­nitely broad­ened my vi­sion of what prej­u­dice is and what it can look like.”

Liv­ing her child­hood dream, Ta­heri-Lee ad­mits her ca­reer launched quickly but en­tailed a lot of hard work.

“I re­mem­ber writ­ing in a time capsule in Year 7 that I would like to be a pop star when I grew up,” she said. “And then I went to high school (St Hilda’s) and was faced with this re­al­ism of how I would make money from that.

“I went away from the idea for a while then had a singing teacher who re­ally inspired me. I saw she was mak­ing a ca­reer out of be­ing a mu­si­cian and I thought, ‘if she can do it, why can’t I?’.”

It has been a busy year for the self-man­aged artist, kick­ing off with the launch of her sec­ond al­bum, Sec­ond City, fol­lowed by a na­tional tour and sup­port shows for Michael Bolton and An­thony Cal­lea. Next year will in­clude a tour of China and time at home song writ­ing.

Shameem Ta­heri-Lee per­forms this week­end.

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