Shayna in the City | SENATUS



Shayna in the City

Shayna ZAID's beautiful face has graced Malaysian TV screens, endorsing big-name products and appearing in several TV commercials. At the tender age of 15, she made a name for herself as the youngest live TV talk show host in Malaysian history. Having proven her multitude of talents, she decided to focus on one aspect of her art--her Music. And in a brave move that seemed to others like a complete departure from her comfort zone, she left Malaysia for New York.

Shayna talks to us about living in the city that never sleeps. She also tells us about the time when her stars aligned and several of her songs were acquired for a long-running Emmy-award winning American soap. This talent deserves to be an international name, and it shouldn't be a long wait for the rest of us.

FULL NAME: Wan Shayna Wan ZAID
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pennsylvania, USA
AGE: 23
FAMILY: Mom, from Philly; Dad, from Terrengganu, Malaysia; 4 sisters (5 young ladies including myself, of which I am second in line)
EDUCATION: Berklee College of Music

Forgive the comparison, but your sound is reminiscent of Nora Jones, Sarah MacLachlan and Corrine Bailey-Rae wonderfully rolled-into-one! Have you ever been compared to other artists before? Which comparisons did you like?
Truthfully, I've had a few people compare our vocal qualities (Jones, Machlachlan and Bailey-Rae). Perhaps we were all sisters in another life. Nevertheless, I can't say I'm not flattered, they are all incredible songwriters and I certainly have a lot of respect for them.

Starting off as a celebrity in Malaysia, was it easier to cross over as an artist to New York?
New York is a boundless city filled with incredible talent from all over the globe. You could be sitting in the subway train next to a celebrity actor from France and never know it until he makes the big screen here. Perhaps my brief experience in the Malaysian entertainment world complimented my knowledge and personal growth in this business, but just like the man sitting on the subway train, we are both still under the radar to most of the population here. Nevertheless, there is a deep rooted reason why we are here - One that perhaps someday will be worth the sacrifice of comfort.

Tell us about your early music-making years in the Big Apple.
I started writing songs at an early age and never had a plate of instructions or a particular direction until I met Jay Deasel. Our earlier music-making years were filled with experimentation and discovering the treasures and strengths in each other. My first album “Beyond Borders" sparked after a class project went right. Our peers were impressed by our collaborative work and it flourished from that point on. Although I have worked with several other producers since, there is certainly something very special that Jay and I bring out of each other.

At the expense of sounding cliche, what,or better yet, who is the inspiration for your music?
My mom used to play Carole King's “Tapestry" when I was growing up. My first CD was Toni Braxton. Perhaps all three of them had something to do with it. Now, my inspiration comes from a personal place.

You've got an eclectic mix of influences, how much of your home country is attributed in the music that you make?
In my earlier recordings, there was certainly quite a bit of musical elements that came from Malaysia. Incorporating traditional instruments like the Gamelan, Seruling and other percussive sounds became an evident part of our modern productions. My second album, “Half a World Away", is a perfect example- It's an extension of my roots and my personal contribution to the local music scene in Malaysia. After my second album and as my writing matured, I found our “productions" beginning to turn into songs. Now, my influences come from pure instinct.

You had a few songs featured in an Emmy-Award Winning long-time running TV soap in the US, how did that happen?
They stumbled upon my first album on a large licensing company database here in New York and much to our delight, three of my songs found a place on a few episodes of The Young and The Restless. It was all by chance, great luck.

What's your biggest dream as an artist?
My biggest dream? This may take a significant amount of time to establish and accomplish but nevertheless - I would be overtly grateful if I were to be fortunate enough to have my music support my aspirations of becoming a global philanthropist someday. Music is certainly my vehicle, and people are my prime inspiration.

For more information on Shayna, visit


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