Why “The Second City”?

One pet question that I get whenever I’m doing an interview for a radio station, blog, streetpress or magazine is, “So, where does the title of your album The Second City come from?” So many people ask that question that I thought it would probably make for a good blog article, and that way I could take my sweet time explaining it, and not feel the need to rush to keep time available for other interview questions, haha.

So there’s a song on the album called “Chill in The Fire”. You can read in detail about the meaning of the lyrics in “Chill in The Fire” here, but the point is that it’s inspired by a Persian mystical work by Bahá’u’lláh called The Seven Valleys. The Seven Valleys is a highly poetic book describing the journey of the soul, using the imagery of travelling through seven valleys to explain ones spiritual journey. In the opening section it reads, “The stages that mark the wayfarer’s journey from the abode of dust to the heavenly homeland are said to be seven. Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities. And they say that until the wayfarer taketh leave of self, and traverseth these stages, he shall never reach to the ocean of nearness and union, nor drink of the peerless wine.”

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The lyrics of “Chill in The Fire” are inspired by the second of these seven valleys, or seven cities, which is called The Valley of Love. I’m particularly enchanted by the imagery and language of that chapter in the book. So, since that song is inspired by the second valley/ city, and because this is my second album, I thought “The Second City” would make an apt title for the album. My second choice for the album title would have been “Beautiful Soul” (the title of the first track on the album), but I like the mystery behind “The Second City” more. Plus it gave me the excuse to have the album photoshoot with the skyline of my beautiful hometown, Perth city, in the background.

You can check out a lyric video that I made for “Chill in The Fire”, using photos from The Second City photoshoot, here. The album is available for purchase on iTunes or BandCamp.

“The Second City” – new album now available

Shameem_SecondCity_itunes_CoverImage_1600x1600Shameem has now released her eagerly anticipated sophomore album, The Second City. The Second City was co-produced by Shameem together with Rob Agostini (Rai Thistlethwaite, Tim & Jean) at Soundbaker Studios in Perth, the world’s most isolated capital city and Shameem’s hometown. Rich with soulful vocals and keys-driven works of art, the record offers insight in to Shameem’s inspiring passion for life, positivity, spirituality and general desire to assist in the betterment of the world via song and goodwill. It touches on a number of thought-provoking themes over the generously loaded 15 tracks: the overcoming of prejudice, broken trust and forgiveness, thankfulness, and gratitude in the face of difficulties.

The album includes the singles “Beautiful Soul“, which was awarded 4th place in the Australian Songwriting Contest Contemporary Pop/ Dance category, and “Under One Sun“, which was co-written with Grammy-winning producer James Bryan (Nelly Furtado, Olly Murs, James Morrison). While remaining true to Shameem’s roots in neo-soul, this album also shows the mixed-race artist paying homage to her Iranian heritage as well as exploring styles as diverse as reggae and rock.

The Second City is available for purchase on iTunes and Bandcamp. To find out more behind the story of The Second City, you can check out a trailer for the album, or read Shameem’s explanations of the inspiration behind the lyrics.

“The Second City” album trailer

A little snapshot of my musical journey at the time of releasing my sophomore album “The Second City”. Produced by Red Bird Creative.

The Second City photoshoot

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Photos taken by Katey Manuchehri. Make-up by Michael Ivory; hair by Kelly at Shendals Signature Salon. Dress created by Ayesha Parsons of Decisively Ambiguous.

Expectation – inspiration

The lyrics for “Expectation” are here. I love to write songs about things that people have in common. My theory is that, the more that we see that we are similar to each other, the easier it will be to break down the stifling barriers of prejudice and indifference. The traditions of every people, culture and religion on the earth include a promise of a time when this world of suffering, conflict and destruction shall end, and peace shall reign forevermore. Many of these traditions include the promise of a special spiritual Being, who is often the return of a spiritual Teacher who has already lived, sent to earth who will bring about this time of peace. It is interesting to me that people of so many different cultural and religious backgrounds, who so often find it hard to get along with each other, should share this common concept of a future peaceful world, with many parallels in the story of how this peace will come about. [pe2-image src=”×768-world-wallpaper.jpg” href=”″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”aurora-borealis-over-hammerfest-1366×768-world-wallpaper.jpg” ]





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Chill in The Fire – inspiration

The lyrics for “Chill in The Fire” are here.

The inspiration for this song comes from a beautiful book written in Farsi (the Persian/ Iranian language) by Baha’u’llah, entitled The Seven Valleys. The book is a long, mystical poem about the quest of the human soul to attain closeness to God, the object of its desire. It describes an analogy of the soul having to traverse seven stages (called seven valleys or seven cities) in this journey towards “the traceless Friend”. The second of these valleys or cities is “The Valley of Love“. In this stage, the soul, having already traversed “The Valley of Search”, is in a state of simultaneous ecstasy and madness. There are many wonderful contradictions of experiences in this valley. My favourite couplet, which is borrowed and adapted by Baha’u’llah from a Persian mystical poem, is:

“A lover is he who is chill in hell fire;
A knower is he who is dry in the sea.”

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All the lyrics in this song are based on the compelling images in the text regarding “The Valley of Love”. The Persian chant that is heard in both this song and its introduction is a melodic invention on the couplet that I quoted above, in the original language that it was written in.

Give Me a Reason – inspiration

The lyrics for “Give Me a Reason” are here.

This song follows on from the same storyline as the song “Impostor“, and before that the song “Disappointed“. Having gone through stages of sadness and anger, this song comes from a place where I deeply want to forgive the person who hurt me, but am struggling to find the inner strength to let go of my hurt. The images in the song of broken glass represent both that person, as I know that this person has also suffered a lot, and also my broken trust in the person. They can never undo what they did to me, just like you can never unbreak a glass. I still very much love this person, so I want to forgive them, but I don’t know if I can ever trust them again. But I wish that I could.

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“The Second City” Album Launch

“The Second City” Album Launch show in Perth is just around the corner, celebrating the release of Shameem’s sophomore album in her hometown before she takes off for a national tour. Shameem will be putting on a unique full band show at premier Perth venue Subiaco Arts Centre, with special guests and never-before-heard arrangements of her music. There will also be a display of original artwork that was created by several WA artists for her photo and video shoots associated with this album. Tickets are available here from Ticketek.

Shameem will be supported by Trevor Jalla. 15 years as a full-time musician has taken Trevor from European festival stages and club dates across the USA to the most intimate solo acoustic performances around Perth and South-West WA. His unique blend of soul, folk, country and blues pays homage to influences such as Ray Charles, James Taylor, George Jones and Robert Johnson.

Shameem’s special guests will include rapper Empty and hip-hop dancers Lisa and Chido from The Dance Workshop.

Under One Sun – inspiration

The lyrics for “Under One Sun” are here.

Scientists have discovered that every single human being on the planet shares 99.9% of their genes with every other human. In other words, we are 99.9% genetically the same as everyone else, and only 0.1% different. Through genetic research, scientists have also concluded that we are all descended from a common ancestor who lived in Africa some 200,000 years ago. So we are literally all related to each other, by blood.

Even before I learnt these scientific concepts regarding evolution and DNA, I was a believer in the oneness of humanity from a spiritual point of view. In the Baha’i Writings, it says: “O CHILDREN OF MEN! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest.”

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 Painting by Phil Doncon.

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Impostor – inspiration

The lyrics for “Impostor” are here.

I have a rule: when I write a song about an actual person, I only tell people who the song is about if it’s a nice song that casts that person in a positive light. So I won’t be telling you who this song is about. In fact, it’s such an angry and negative song that for a while I contemplated whether or not I should even include it on my album. My mission as an artist is to uplift and inspire people to better themselves and to contribute to the betterment of the world, and I didn’t feel that this song fulfilled that purpose. In the end, I decided to put this song on the album, because it’s a milestone on a personal journey of mine to overcome hurt and to practice forgiveness. It’s not a happy song, but I hope that one day the story that it’s a part of will be a happy one. I also thought that it’s important to show that just because you’re trying to be a good person and do good things, it doesn’t mean that the journey is smooth sailing and there won’t be obstacles in your path. You still go through hurt and anger like everyone does.

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