The first thing I noticed when I stepped into singer Shaina Shepherd’s dressing room on December 3, as she prepared to open for John Legend at A Legendary Holiday: Nordstrom Presents John Legend in Concert at NYC Flagship, was her absolutely stunning outfit. The leather ensemble adorned with dynamic floral accents literally stopped me in my tracks. “It’s Alexander McQueen,” she said grinning ear-to-ear as she greeted me. “I wanted to feel like myself tonight. At home, people wear North Faces and sneakers on stage, but coming to New York I wanted to express who I am — and that’s just a little Black weirdo that feels like a flower and Rock and Roll.”
The Seattle-based vocalist had quite a bit to celebrate that night, particularly, being the voice behind Nordstrom’s first-ever commissioned holiday song. A cover of 2017’s ‘Never Be Another You,’ a song by Lee Fields and The Expressions, it marks the first time that Nordstrom’s always-anticipated holiday campaign is accompanied by a tune. The experience is full-circle for Shepherd. “When I was young, I would go to Nordstrom during Christmas time,” she shares. “In Seattle, they have this very epic and iconic set up every year and I would go there just to see Santa Claus when I was visiting my mom.”
But the memories don’t stop there. “I would walk by the beautiful windows and see all the beautiful fashions but I honestly felt like it was not for me at the time,” she says. “I didn’t feel like it was some place I could go.” That all changed when she became an adult. “I was like, I want something nice for myself,” she continues. “And I started shopping. Nordstrom is where if I want feel pretty and beautiful, I go get something special.”
When describing what this moment means to her, the songstress pauses for a moment of gratitude — not only for herself, but for her hometown. “I’m honored and more over, I feel galvanized,” she says. “I really want it [the song] to be successful. I want this to be a program that helps other artists like of myself because Seattle’s a hard place to reach people, you know? It’s really these bigger voices, corporations and companies that have great reach outside of the city. So for Nordstrom to work with me and see something in my art that they thinks aligns with their brand — I’m just looking forward for the next person to come up and do this work.”
She says that the process of crafting the song was just as beautiful. “There’s so many teams that put this together,” she says. “I was in the studio with my band and Pete Nordstrom came through and watched as we were working on the song itself.” As the project grew, so did Shepherd’s relationship with other departments of the retailer. “Now it’s the Nordstrom beauty team and it’s their fashion and styling team involved,” she shares. ” I was able to learn so quickly because everybody’s working together, it’s been the best gift.”
Another gift, she says, is being able to open for Legend. “I feel like I’m where God wants me to be,” she says. I’ve always been such a huge fan. John, he’s inspired me directly with the way that I hear music, the way that I ultimately create music. So to be a part of an event where he’s at the center, it just feels like I’m exactly where I need to be.”
All proceeds from the electrifying song will benefit Africatown Community Land Trust and can be found on digital platforms. It’s Shepherd’s hope that the campaign with help fully-fund the resource so more women of color like herself can pursue their dreams in music.
Shop Shepherd’s Alexander McQueen look ahead.