Raised in a close-knit family surrounded by athletics and music, rising country-pop artist Aneesa Sheikh is set on taking her music to the next level. The youngest of five children, Aneesa credits her older siblings with pushing her in her endeavors.
Aneesa is a Pakistani-American born in Kentucky, where she was involved in swimming and figure skating, but it was her passion for music that won her heart. Raised by parents who appreciated music, they purchased her first guitar when she was only eight years old. Inspired by Jewel, Stevie Nicks, Miley Cyrus, Colbie Caillat, and guitar great Carlos Santana, Aneesa was determined to learn to play the guitar and write songs. After a live performance at the age of fourteen, she knew she was destined to pursue music as a career.
This young, talented musician has written, produced, and released many singles throughout the year, closing out 2020 with a cheerful holiday single, “Happy Little Holiday.” Not only having a passion for bringing comfort and joy through music, but she also started her own non-profit organization to spread music therapy and give hope to those who are experiencing a medical crisis. Music4M.I.R.A.C.L.E. is an acronym for Music, Inspires, Reaches, Accepts, Captures, Loves, has performed for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, The Healing Notes Foundation, and many rehabilitation and nursing centers. During COVID-19 she continues her mission through live stream performance.
Stay tuned for her new single, “Who’s Gonna Stop Me,” to be released on Friday, January 15, 2021. Co-written with Corey Lee Barker and Justine Blazer, the new single is also a way for her to connect with fans by “giving them the courage they need to go after what they want without any fear and the drive to be their own boss without letting anyone get in their way.”
“The lyrics, ‘Whatever’s coming, bring it on, bring it on’ connotes whatever bump in the road I may hit, that is okay because I won’t let it derail me from my target and ‘I’m coming for the crown’ was written to incorporate my experience as Miss Michigan Teen USA 2020 and having several hardships that year but continuing to learn from everything and be tenacious with my passions.” – Aneesa Sheikh
I am so impressed with what you’ve accomplished so far in your young life in reading your bio! Do you think being the youngest of five children has anything to do with your motivation?
Thank you very, very much! My older siblings have pushed me to work hard in school, music, and figure skating; however, I believe my biggest motivator is myself and my ambitions, potential, and love of what I do.
Growing up in an athletic household where you were involved in competitive skating at a very early age, where did you find your passion for music?
As far as to figure skating, my three older sisters competed and trained at high levels. I was a late starter beginning at nine years old, whereas my older sisters started skating at the ripe age of four and five years old. My parents knew how much sacrifice the sport was and didn’t want to introduce me to the ice-skating world. It was my sister Sameena who introduced me hardcore. I remember her handing me her old skating skirt and tights when my parents were out of town and took me skating for the first time. She then proceeded to coach me for several years.
You might actually want to ask my mom for her perspective on this, but when we discuss my beginnings in music, she said that in elementary school, one day, I came home and declared, “I want to take guitar lessons.” Her sister and father played a little bit, and she herself played four instruments—she loves music. I remember the day my music teacher had played guitar for us, and I literally fell in love with the sound. My mom bought me a small guitar and signed me up for lessons. I would play all the time and watch YouTube tutorials also. I even started writing my own lyrics and chords.
When I was fourteen, I performed at WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, and for the first time, I sang original songs. I loved it!! I knew that this would always be a part of my life. Connecting with the audience through my own lyrics is what made me fall in love with music even more.
What inspired you to pick up the guitar at the age of eight, and did you receive formal training?
Adding to the above, I was first introduced to the guitar in school, but music was always a part of our household. Growing up at the ice rink for the majority of my day, I was constantly exposed to several genres of music ice skaters performed to. I will never forget one day I overheard a medley of Santana’s hits while on the ice and instantly wanted to learn how to play those songs on the guitar. I love Santana.
What inspires your music?
My music’s sound is a fusion of all my favorite artists from when I was younger. I would say it is a combination of pop, rock, country, and singer-songwriter. My experiences and observations drive my lyrics.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I have always loved Jewel, Stevie Nicks, Santana, and Colbie Caillat.
Tell us about your songwriting process—lyrics or melody first?
Most of the time, I pick up my guitar and experiment with various chord progressions. I’ll then just start singing about whatever is on my mind or have a specific message I want my lyrics to illustrate. Then I will videotape or record myself. I’ll go through the video and pick out the lyrics that stuck out the most and then get to the technical part of the songwriting process: the structure, rhythm, and locking in the melody. A lot of the time, I write with other songwriters and follow a similar songwriting process.
Your holiday single, “Happy Little Holiday,” is an upbeat pop song where you hope to spread cheer and joy to everyone during these troubling times. What is your favorite part about the song—may be a lyric?
The lyric “No sadness welcome here, in this wonderland show,” is my absolute favorite part of the entire song because it illustrates exactly what the holiday season in 2020 was: forgetting about the tough times in 2020 and enjoying the holiday spirit.
They say music has healing power, and it has certainly helped you through some difficult situations. Can you share with us how music helped you during difficult times and what does music mean to you?
I always ask people, “Why do we listen to music?” It is a feeling that often sparks memories tied to a similar emotion. Music has been an escape from reality for me. Whenever I have a dilemma or a conflict, I sit down and work on my music, and by the end of the session, I will feel better and have a solution. When my father had a stroke, singing for him gave him his light again and, in return, gave me my light just from the physical and emotional benefits music brought him. In return, I wrote a song with my cowriter, Justine Blazer, “Tough Times,” with the message of “tough times don’t last, but tough people do,” and released this song during the pandemic to spark hope with my audience.
Through music, you founded a non-profit called Music4M.I.R.A.C.L.E. What is the mission of your non-profit, and what are some of the projects you have been involved with?
Music4M.I.R.A.C.L.E. stands for “Music, inspires, reaches, accepts, captures, loves, equally.” The mission behind it is to spread music therapy in various communities, such as the medical field. I have been involved with C.S. Motts Hospital, St. Jude’s, Children’s Research Hospital, and The Healing Notes foundation. During the pandemic, I worked greatly on my non-profit by uniting artists and organizing virtual performances with children at hospitals across Michigan and nursing and rehabilitation centers because visitation was not allowed, and patients needed a form of entertainment.
What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?
I hope my listeners take away a positive message and a feeling that gives them hope. I just want my listeners to feel something when they hear my music.
You hold the title of Miss Michigan Teen USA 2020 and participated in Miss Teen USA’s virtual pageant, tell us about that experience and what you have learned during your reign about pageants?
My year as Miss Michigan Teen USA has been a year full of growth for me. I’ve developed so many attributes that I will be able to apply to my future endeavors. Pageants are great in the fact that they help young ladies experience many events, volunteering workshops, along with other forms of engaging with various communities. These experiences allow girls to learn how to be a chameleon. What I mean is that girls like myself learn how to adapt to several social situations and tailor themselves to that environment, while still being unique in themselves.
What’s next for Aneesa Sheikh? Might we expect a new album soon?
2020 has been a year filled with blessings, strides towards my goals, and a lot of learning. 2021 is a year I will break into the music scene, diving straight into the deep end. I am so excited to continue growing and learning, but this year I am sharing my best music yet.
To receive updates about the single, visit her website: www.aneesaofficial.com or follow her on Instagram: @aneesasheikhofficial