Shawna Cain believes there is no more powerful message than one sent from above. And with the forthcoming release of her EP, The Way, (October 2, 2020) she intends to spread that word to as wide of an audience as possible.
"I want to reach those people that don't even think they want to hear about God," says Cain. "I don't want people to feel as though they're closed off from this music, or that it's not for them. To me, the music I write is not just words; it is something spiritual and based on the principles I apply to my life."
It wasn't that long ago that the Canadian singer's principles, or arguable lack thereof, could have brought her down a different path in life. After having fallen into a trap of substance abuse following a pair of personal tragedies, Cain saw herself as a lost cause of sorts, despite the fact she had barely made a dent in her 20's.
"I was smoking and drinking, and heavily involved in partying. It wasn't a healthy place for me to be," she recalled, noting she turned to substances to mask personal issues with anxiety and depression.
"I was in a place in life where I wasn't willing to confront anything from my past. I didn't want to deal with the sadness and hurt I had experienced. And it was alcohol and other substances that allowed me to quiet my mind."
Shawna's wake-up call came during one of her regular visits to Sunday church service. While she might have always been present at the services in body, other fears clouded her mind as she worried she would never truly be accepted by God based on the lifestyle choices she made up to that point in her life. It was the reassurance she received when God spoke with her that helped to immediately put her at ease.
"Until God spoke with me, I was worried I wouldn't be welcomed into His kingdom because I had failed to live up to the standards God expects from us. And that is what partially drew me to substances, this overarching fear that there was no turning back and that I was forever tainted. But instead, He told me that He was listening to me and cared about me; I felt like if I was going to serve Him, it was a now or never type of situation," she said.
Coincidentally, it was heeding God's call that would put her on the path to the eventual launch of The Way. Having grown up in a musical family, and with an uncle who had achieved substantial success as a recording artist in Canada, hip-hop wasn't an entirely foreign concept to the budding singer.
Arguably more foreign, however, was the notion that she would one day choose to pursue a career in music.
"I never aspired to be a singer but had always sung as a means of expressing myself. I never did so publicly, though," she explained. "But the first time I attended church after having heard God speak to me, I was talking with the pastor and she believed that God wanted me to sing."
Amusingly enough, Cain initially tried to brush the suggestion off. Not only was she not keen to be the center of attention at a church service, she was worried that getting up in front of an audience would perhaps reignite feelings of anxiety, which had been partially responsible for drawing her to substances in the first place.
"The pastor kindly persisted and eventually I came around to the idea. I was on YouTube, looking up instrumentals to sing and stumbled upon some cool hip-hop beats. I started writing about the transformative experience I had undergone and the words just spilled out of me. From that point on, I threw myself into wanting to share my experience with others."
Ironically, "I Am A Spirit," the bouncy, charismatic first single from The Way, was the last song to be written for the debut EP. Check out of the video here: https://youtu.be/ZBr6b56cm1M
The inspiration, and subsequently the lyrics for the song came to the singer while on a visit to Jamaica, but it was while cruising the streets of her hometown of Brampton, Ontario, that she found the perfect musical accompaniment to her words.
"It turned out to be one of those songs that needed to come out but I just hadn't realized it. I was listening to a lot of trap and hip-hop beats and that, combined with the inspiration of what I was learning at church at the time, joined forces in what I refer to as the perfect five-minute lesson. It's an educational song in which you can find freedom, but you'll walk away from it having learned something, too. I want people to think about themselves and take a serious look at who they are."
Opening with the line "I just need to worship you," EP lead-off track "None Like You" sees Cain take a frank and honest look at her relationship with God and the focus that worshipping Him brings to her life. While others may see slowing down the pace of life as a luxury they believe they can't afford to take, she sees it as the perfect respite in our always-on world.
"It's a worship song that serves as an interruption to my thoughts. It's a much-needed break in the midst of our busy lives. It's in that time that I don't focus on anything aside from the beauty of the world and the beauty of what God means to me. It's about getting lost in the moment and refusing to be side-tracked by the daily distractions we all have in our lives."
Ultimately, Cain's debut effort is a remarkable show of strength and talent that combines unforgettable songs with a message she hopes will resonate with both God's faithful and all others alike,
"These songs are drawn from the inspiration of what I've seen and heard so far in my life," Cain said. "I'm doing something unique, but it's God that is doing the trailblazing here; I'm just following Him. I love and appreciate that I'm able to bring a positive message to others who may be questioning their place in the world."