MEET SHANA DINHA
There is something to be said about the loving bond between a father and his daughter. For award-winning singer, songwriter and performer Shana Dinha her father was hugely influential. A singer and guitarist, he would perform songs by The Beatles, ABBA, James Brown, Tom Jones, Moody Blues, Rod Stewart and Elton John for her.
“He, as well as my mother, have been a major source of support when it comes to my musical journey,” Shana proudly confesses.
An Assyrian-American born into a musical family, Shana’s parents took her to see the play Phantom of the Opera in London when she was 5 years old. It moved her, and she couldn’t stop singing once it ended – which turned out to be a good thing. Today Shana carries a tune with angelic excellence. She conveys emotion through song and stage presence. She captivates an audience.
“When I don’t sing I’m not myself,” she says.
Shana’s identity is a passionate artist, one who grew up invested in her craft. Unlike Phantom’s lead character she didn’t disappear in the face of the personal and professional challenges that came along with it. She revealed herself, embraced the spotlight, and used her talent, her faith, and the love in her heart to achieve award-winning acclaim.
In 2008 Shana was awarded The Superior Command Solo Performance from California Music Education Association. A year later she claimed an Outstanding Vocalist Award from Music in the Parks. Then in 2015 following a turn on Oxygen reality television series Fix My Choir, she melodically belted her way to victory at world renowned jazz club Yoshi’s, winning competition Jazz Search West. Possessing the ear-catching ability to skillfully sing gospel and R&B as well as jazz, Shana’s gift is destined to keep on giving. Her “Rising Stars” performance at the iconic California Jazz Conservatory in 2017 was a sold out event.
Born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Pleasanton, California, Shana’s desire to sing was encouraged by her parents. “[They] gave me every opportunity for music lessons and also put me in choirs,” she recalls. Shana was introduced to gospel by singing in urban choirs, though she gravitated toward R&B and jazz.
After high school Shana attended DeAnza College where she received her Associate of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Focused and on track she pursued and was offered a scholarship to attend Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Her parents, however, were concerned she wasn’t ready for that environment. Shana would find herself having a literal “come to Jesus” moment.
“I realized the best thing I could do in that moment was to go and find a gospel choir just to sing in church,” she says.
Once Shana found a church choir to join she asked its director if they knew of any professional choirs. Shana was recommended to JaRon Thompson who is the cousin of Terrance Kelly – Artistic Director of Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. This opportunity led to Shana working with a group called Flow that was managed by award-winning singer, composer, and Recording Academy member Nona Brown.
“Right away I got a gig singing backup with Josh Groban in front of 18,000 people,” she says. “I felt an extreme amount of bliss I’d never felt before! I felt right at home. I felt at peace. It was like this is what I’m meant to do. That was a pivotal point in my life where music changed everything for me.”
Shana has worked with a number of notable musicians including Pittsburg Arts/Entertainment Hall of Fame guitarist Terrence Brewer, Marcus Shelby who she’s played with because of Jazz Search West, the great Frank Martin, drummer Deszone Claiborne, bassist Toy Lampkins, and Grammy-winning violinist Mads Tolling. Platinum-selling producer, recording artist, and masterful arranger Raz Kennedy has been Shana’s vocal coach for a decade. Famed Ambassador of Black Music Faye Carol has mentored her. Shana has also used her music to support Assyrian Aid Society.
Although she feels no other music reaches the richness of jazz, Shana considers herself a well-rounded performer capable of singing various styles. Music and singing are part of her nature, something that’s carved into her heart and soul. Shana says, “The only thing better than singing is more singing."