April Jones: Finding My Heritage
April Jones, artistically known as Sharie LaShell is an R&B recording artist. Her music combines R&B, Neo Soul, Rock, and Pop to create a smooth, light, but powerful sound. She loves to pay homage to the 90’s New Jack Swing period. She has a song that was released around the time of the pandemic that reflects that period. This song features 19-year-old Memphis rapper, Princess Yasmin and it is upbeat and jamming.
Before we begin our conversation, April brews some herbal tea, stocked with a blend that would benefit the throat of any vocalist or lyricist. She adds fenugreek, rose hips, lemon balm, and burdock root; all of which were gathered from Maggie’s Farm. She breaks up the tea by grinding it and then begins to strain it for her first cup. Filled with antioxidants and flavonoids, she sips as we slowly move into our conversation.
April Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Her family consisted of her mother, stepfather, twin sister, an older sister, and an older brother. Her mother engulfed her and her twin in music and creativity from the beginning of their lives. For a while, she attended Willow Oaks, an urban school, then she switched to a predominately white school. She had a crush on a Jewish boy named Zach in middle school and begin to attempt to be more like him. Her newfound identity caused her family to shun her.
In the 7th grade, she attended an urban, less diverse school. It was closer to where they lived, it was easier work, and there were more people from their neighborhood. Her mother wanted the twins to be around other black children more often. She felt like they were emulating privileges they would never have. While April did not feel that way, she recognized her mother’s attitude added another obstacle to her journey towards self-identification. Eventually, April found a happy medium, where color, colloquialism, and identity was less important- art and music. She discovered that art liberated her to interpret her life as she saw it and music opened the door for her speak in her words what she believed. April likes to think she is able to connect with anybody, regardless of background through her artistic and musical interpretation of life.
Our conversation flows in and out of cultural enlightenment, April’s smile is constant and bright, her voice is engaging and textured. Behind her small in-home studio, her paintings express the struggles, but also her connection to the fight for her own self identity, her femininity and her authenticity as she felt it to be. April comments she is proud of her femininity, proud of her Blackness, proud of her music, and proud of her art.
She insists that she is grateful for even those discerning and judging moments. They have made her who she is today; grateful, loving, concerned, and informed; while still keenly aware of the situations and learnings of others.
April encourages others around to embrace as much positivity as they can, get up and dance, and let go of the stress, especially those things you can’t control. She does not believe in living in a box. Colors, textures and sound is her happy place and that’s exactly where she will shine.