Earlier this month, Interscope and Matriarch Records recording artist Starshell spoke and performed at the Walk out of Darkness event, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in Washington, D.C. These Out of Darkness Walks, which are held all over the nation, are efforts to raise awareness about depression and suicide as well as to provide comfort to those who have lost loved ones to suicide over the years - all while trying to raise funds to further research and the educational programming done by AFSP. Their website testifies to the fact that suicide claims the lives of more than 38,000 individuals a year, which sadly, is rarely ever talked about.
Starshell says; "I didn't talk about. I thought people would say, 'What's wrong with your family?' But it's messed up because when you don't talk about it, it perpetuates it."
And she has been talking about it. As she prepares for her highly anticipated album to drop later this year she has been employing the new found fame and attention she's been receiving to tell her story in the hopes that she can be an encouragement to others who have lost loved ones and to those who are presently suffering in depression.
Years ago, Starshell lost her own sister to suicide. In a recent interview she shared; "I decided ever since she passed away that I would never take life for granted and I would always find a way to make light."
One of the most compelling things about this new young artist is how she has found direction and motivation out of a tragedy that would paralyze most. She has found away to draw beauty from ashes. It's an inspiring model for all of us who have experienced personal losses that have deeply shaped our lives.
In her latest single "My Star" she sings with soulful clarity about losing her sister and how that loss has served as a kind of North Star over the last several years of her life:
"Never knew that losing you could be,
the thing that would help me find me,
but I know you're smiling down on me
When I look up in the sky you're so beautiful shining
and if ever I am lost you always there to show me the way.
When I look up in the sky you're so beautiful shining.
You are my star..."
There is an attention grabbing, beautiful -- though complex -- tension about Starshell. On the one hand she has become a national spokesperson for suicide prevention which is a very heavy, very painful issue. On the other she is an R&B/Pop star who is becoming known for feel good, very danceable tracks like "Supalova" (and the remix which features Kanye and Big Sean) or the popular "Birthday Girl". This tension results in a powerful dialectic dance within this African-American and Brazilian, Massachusetts born sister. She's an old soul in a young person's body. It's Mahalia and Rihanna. Lady Day and Lady Gaga. Yet better and natural and clear just like her voice.
Here is the tension in action: During the same week she spoke at the Walk out of Darkness Event in DC, she announced the launch of her new clothing line, Birthday Girl Clothing (named after the first single she recorded for Matriarch Records.) On the surface, it would seem like launching a women's clothing line of tee-shirts, tank tops, sweat shirts, and shorts that say "Birthday Girl" on them would have absolutely nothing to do with suicide prevention. So in a recent interview I had the chance to ask Starshell about the motivation behind the clothing line.
"Celebrating life is important to me. I created the clothing line specifically for celebrating life everyday like it's your birthday."
It's very interesting how she has gone about launching the brand. She and her team have decided to work through the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter. It's a smart move because not only do they help to raise the seed money to take the clothing line to the next level (beyond selling it while touring with J. Lo, Enrique Iglesias and Mary J. Blige), but it also -- and most importantly -- allows her to spread her message about suicide prevention through the video on the Kickstarter campaign's site to even more people.
As has been the case since she came on the scene, Starshell donates a significant amount of what she makes towards efforts to prevent suicide. Thus by supporting this young sister's endeavors we are supporting the work of groups like AFSP.
This new artist is very smart and she's making a difference with both her voice and her mind. And she's still got a few months before the full album drops. Keep up the good work Starshell and thank for using your platform to make a difference.