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Shuga Shares The Dark Days Of Her ‘Journey’

Reggae artist Shuga is reminiscing on the arc of her career, which appears to be a pilgrimage, a journey that, to hear her describe it, appears to be one part hell and two parts exhilaration and inspiration since her explosive arrival on the music scene almost 15 years ago.

The reggae industry’s growing embrace of Shuga’s legacy is encapsulated in her latest single, My Journey, the first salvo from her debut album, “Girl From Bogue,” which is produced by Penthouse Records.

It has been close to 15 years since the then Brown Shuga won the popular ‘Digicel Rising Stars’ competition. She has grown as a musical powerhouse since then, delivering songs with a liquid groove and bruised passion similar to her counterparts in the US.

There are deep currents of pain flowing through her “known rivers” as she has faced emotionally riveting challenges to survive in the music industry, fighting against an army of naysayers, exploitation experts and sexual predators.

On My Journey, Shuga’s searing singjay vocals cut like a knife through butter on a 1990s hip-hop-influenced beat as she seems to channel her inner Lauryn Hill. One gets the feeling that this isn’t just a song—it’s an anthem for anyone willing to seize their moment.

“This song was motivated by actual events. From entering the talent competition Digicel Rising Stars in 2009, to traveling from Montego Bay to Kingston seeking opportunities to also sharing some things I’ve experienced along the way. It’s like an autobiography, hence the track titled ‘My Journey’,” she told DancehallMag.

She painted a vision of the music industry, which was like a protectionist fortress driven by sexism, misogyny and exploitation.

“I remember being told to flirt with djs. I can also vividly remember being introduced to a man who was at the time on the island to do some business. I was called and when I went to the meeting it was almost as if I was on display but not in a musical way it was all about my shape and legs and my age and I was even told to lie about my age,” she said.

The trolls on the World Wide Web have been particularly vicious about her lack of commercial hits.

“I’ve been told to give up and go sell oranges in the market place, even my close friends have told me to go get a job because you have to be willing to do certain things to make it in the music industry but the music Iives within me so I have no choice but to keep going,” she explained.

Shuga balances her career with her motherly duties, raising two boys.

“I have two boys, my youngest is a toddler and my eldest is a teen and is still in school,” she said.

Shuga is best known for the song, Ebony, arguably her most commercially successful song.

“Ebony is a song that has introduced me to spaces I could only imagine in a dream and has kept me inspired over the years. It has been a strong motivating song that opened some doors and eyes and I can proudly say changed the way I now choose to do music because of the many lives it has affected in a positive way,” she said.

Shuga said that fans from all over the world have reached out to share how the song Ebony has strengthened them through tough times.

“But I must say that since the release of my new single My Journey the love and support has been real, it’s a re-introduction of shuga that will see the release of my debut Album “Girl from Bogue” produced by Penthouse Records,” she said.

Shuga is sure that her legacy is secure as she has continued to hone her craft and shatter illusions.

“Connecting heart to heart with any audience, whether while on stage or on a record and also changing lives while producing meaningful songs is my greatest legacy,” she said.

Shuga recounted the challenges of sleeping at the Penthouse Recording studio because she had nowhere else to stay. After everyone else had left for the day, she was forced to stay inside, trapped like a prison, while guard dogs patrolled outside.

“When I came to Kingston I had no family nor much acquaintances but I wanted to spend time in Kingston so I could keep recording and of course stay relevant after the whole hype from the talent show,” she reminisced of those early days.

Shuga is not afraid of the dark. She has been there before.

“However, I had nowhere to stay so at nights when everyone left the studio I would stay behind and spend my nights there and let me tell you this , once the security dogs were let out from the dog houses and on patrol, and outside was dark dark, I couldn’t move. If I was thirsty , hungry or sick I had to stay inside till it was morning and they were locked away,” she recounted.

There is a lot of ‘well, you’ve got to be kidding’ with Shuga. She said that the experiences shaped her into a strong resilient woman who projects the threat that she can derail or survive anything.

“It was tough and it took courage but it shaped me to be resilient and to push through any situation. Putting aside my pride to take my morning showers in the security bathroom rather than sleeping around was a better decision and I’m happy that’s the road I chose,” she said.

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