Shayla Woods
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Shayla Woods

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"Dreaming big"

Dreaming big

By René Hill

Five contestants are getting ready to compete in Singing for Success – an event showcasing some of Bermuda’s talent and this year they will perform on the same stage as American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. Here they spoke to Lifestyle reporter Rene Hill about their aims and aspirations Contestant Brittany Cox auditioned for this year's Singing for Success competition because she wanted to increase her knowledge of both the musical profession and of the contest.

The 17-year-old has been singing for about four years and although she is not a member of a choir, she felt that improving her talents would help her grow personally.

For the auditions she performed 'Broken-Hearted Girl' by Beyoncé and 'Love' by Keyshia Cole.

At first she admitted she was a little intimidated, but she said: "I was also confident in my talent and I was looking forward to the growth of this experience."

She added: "I think the Berklee scholarship would be a good opportunity for me to learn more about singing and it will hopefully give me more confidence in my talent, so that I can further my singing career. The possibility of earning a scholarship for higher learning is a fantastic opportunity."

So far she said that she has written a couple of songs with friends and she enjoys several different genres of music.

"With Rhythm and Blues being my favourite, because I think it caters more to young girls," said Miss Cox.

Miss Cox says she is honoured at the opportunity to perform on the same stage as American Idol Fantasia Barrino.

"I have always been a fan on her music and I loved her on American Idol," said the teenager.

Lillaurie Nzabalinda's said the Success Series was an excellent opportunity to see the business side of the music industry and thought it was also a great opportunity for people to pay for school.

"I think it will be a great experience just to meet Fantasia and talk to her, let alone perform with her," said Miss Nzabalinda. "I am looking forward to it."

The Bermuda Institute Choir member says she has been singing her whole life, although she did not publicly perform until she was aged 10.

"Soul music and gospel music are my favourite genres; I basically like anything with a beat or anything that is calm and serene," said the 17-year-old.

On her audition she said: "I decided to audition to try something new and get a new and different experience. I would like to become a professional, but there are a lot of other things I would like to do with music other than just singing."

When asked if she stood a good chance during the auditions when she heard the others, she said: "Yes I thought that I had a chance, I have enough confidence in myself."

Regarding the scholarship, she said: "I am looking forward to winning the scholarship. It's what I'm aiming for."

When she heard the other competitors performing, Rachel Maderios wasn't sure if she stood a chance at securing a place, but the teenager still made it into the finals.

"I wasn't sure when I heard them, as they all sang really well," said Miss Maderios. "I had some negative thoughts running through my head, but I thought to myself I'm just going to bring on my best."

She auditioned because she thought it was a good opportunity to display her many talents.

"I would like to be known around the world and have people singing, listening and dancing to my music," said the St. John's Youth Choir member.

For the auditions, she performed 'Jesus Take The Wheel' by Carrie Underwood and 'Heaven', a mix by DJ Sammy, but she added: "I like all kinds of music, though I don't really like rock music as much as the rest.

"But I find singing a variety of music is good, as it helps to bring out the inner voice you thought you didn't have."

On performing with Fantasia, she thought it would be cool to sing on stage with someone famous.

Miss Madeiros, who has been singing since she was four-years-old, began taking more seriously when she was aged 11, and now at 16, she says she is ready to win a scholarship and take her music to the next level.

"I am going to do my very best to win it," she said. "I will definitely use it, singing is my passion."

She writes her own lyrics and also produced a Christmas CD for her family.

On the Success Series, she said: "It's really great that Singing for Success is giving the people of Bermuda a chance to bring their talents to the stage.

"Also, to feel and know what it's really like to be big in the entertainment world. You get to travel and go on tour to perform in other cities in the US. It's great to gain experience with other performers and make new friends."

Her love of singing and the opportunity of winning a scholarship drove Shayla Woods to audition.

She performed 'His Eye is on the Sparrow' and 'Alabaster Box' says that she didn't doubt herself.

"I had confidence in myself, because everyone is unique in their own way," said the 21-year-old. "I feel that we have to work hard to receive scholarships, and this is a great way to earn it because I love to sing. I would love to see my singing career go worldwide! Who wouldn't?"

Miss Woods said she has been singing all her life, and was a member of the United Tehilla Ministries.

"My favourite genre of music is Gospel," she said. "I feel that Gospel music is pure and puts me on common ground."

Miss Woods, who says that writing songs is one of her hobbies, said she has recorded five original tunes with a producer/singer who is a member of Take 6.

She loves that the Success Series is bringing out the best in Bermuda's upcoming artists. "It helps to help fulfil our dreams and give us that extra push and step closer in furthering our education," she said.

"This series is helping me step out of my comfort zone, because this scholarship would be a blessing. This is our time to achieve!"

While some were nervous during the auditions, Dion Ming thought that although the competition was stiff, he had a chance. "It was more of a personal journey for me," he said.

"I'm pretty sure each of the entrants, including myself, had a few things running through our heads at the time of the audition.

"I can say that there was a lot of potential in the room. With that said, I did feel that I stood a chance."

He performed 'Knocks Me Off My Feet' by Stevie Wonder and 'So High' by John Legend and said he auditioned with the purpose of furthering his education and the development of his voice.

"I am definitely looking forward to winning the scholarship, so I can build upon the fundamentals that I have learned throughout the years," said the 27-year-old.

"Also to be a mentor to those looking to pursue a career in the arts."

He has been singing since eight and it was then that he joined a group called Brothers in Christ.

"I am not currently a member of a choir, however, I have been in quite a few throughout the years: The Vernon Temple Youth Choir, Voices of Triumph, The Inspirational Choir, and The Bermuda Institute Choir just to name a few."

He aims to enter the realm of Neo-Soul and to a drop a few records.

"Ultimately, most artists in the industry have a story to tell and I live to be a part of that number," he said.

"My favourite genre of music is Neo-Soul, because it is very expressive.

"The lyrics in most cases cannot be taken at face value.

"There is definitely substance in Neo-Soul music, which is right up my alley."

Although he has not recorded, he says that he is working on the art of writing lyrics.

And Mr. Ming is excited for the opportunity to sing alongside the likes of Fantasia.

"I can honestly say that I am quite fond of the endeavours being made by the organisers of the Success Series.

"I'm very grateful to have had this opportunity as no one is ever certain what tomorrow will bring.

"With that said, many thanks to the producers of the Success Series for the strides they are taking to ensure that our voices are heard."

In addition, he said: "To all those who are uncertain as to what direction they want to take in life. Sit back and figure out what it is that makes you truly happy.

"Think of ways to achieve this goal and take strides to achieve it. Do take advice from family and friends, but never let their opinions and values be the deciding factor as to how you will proceed in making your dreams a reality.

"Dream big, laugh loud, and play hard, but always bear in mind that the race was never intended for fastest, the brightest, or those that are always on time (metaphorically speaking), but for those that are willing to rise above and push forward amidst adversity and strife." - The Royal Gazette

"Contest a resounding 'success'"

By Helen Jardine

"Check your weave ladies - is it still on your head?!"

Singing for Success host George Huff was right on the money with this question, after a night of high-energy entertainment by American Idol winner Fantasia and Bermuda's young contestants had audiences on their feet all night long.

The tight two-hour performance, organized by Kevin Bean, never once lost its momentum (as is the error of a few over-stretched local shows) and the variety of music was impressive - from pop, to gospel, to soul, to soca.

There was something for everybody as five youngsters battled it out to become the winner of Singing for Success and win a $10,000 scholarship to study music abroad.

In the end it was the only male singer in the competition, Dion Ming, who took home the coveted winner's title after giving three impressive performances including I Love Music, Time, and A Song for You.


The 27-year-old moved effortlessly around the stage and really had the 'performance' angle down to a tee.

Each contestant sang three songs each - from three different genres of music: jazz standard (one and a half to two minutes long), 70's dance (one and a half to two minutes long) and contemporary (three minutes long).

The judges were Travis Miller, Pamela Ferreira and Deborah McDuffie.

It was a close competition with the four other contestants - Lillaurie Nzabalinda, Brittany Cox, Dion Ming, Rachel Madeiros and Shayla Woods - proving that Bermuda is over-running with fresh local talent.

Seventeen-year-old Lillaurie Nzabalinda's rendition of At Last was brilliant and drew lot of audience support.

Confident and soulful

She looked beautiful and had a very confident, soulful voice and gave a very powerful song her own vibe.

She even adopted a 70's look when she donned an Afro wig to sing disco hit Car Wash.

Shayla Woods, 27, sang with a convincingly emotional undertone to her song All I Could Do Was Cry which made you believe that she has actually caught another woman "with her baby."

Love the One You're With was also one of her strong performances and her ability to hang onto and 'play with' some of the notes was incredible.

Rachel Madeiros, 16, has vastly improved her singing ability since her debut in Bermuda's Teen Idol.

Her third and final song of the evening Jesus, Take the Wheel was by far her best performance of the night, and even host George Huff commented that she had stepped up her game with this song.

She also sang When I Fall in Love and ABBA's Dancing Queen.

I'm certainly no voice expert, but I think the reason this last song worked for Rachel is because she had picked an appropriate song for her voice.

She should steer clear from power-ballad performers such as Celine Dion and Whitney Houston - which don't give her a chance to show-off her subtle sultry tones - and instead draw her inspiration more from singers like Jewel, Colby Callait and Taylor Swift.

Brittany Cox gave three mesmerizing performances with her songs Sway with Me, Superstition and I Love You which she sang flawlessly and really proved her versatility as a singer.

She was a very cool performer who didn't need to move around the stage much in order to command your attention.

Her smooth voice matched her demeanour and she did not appear to need much breath to produce a great sound. She sounded ever-so-slightly like pop star Rihanna.

Amazing outfits

Also, I don't know who dressed the girls but they looked amazing and I would love to raid their wardrobes.

Newly-formed singing group The Secret also gave a stellar performance and transitioned effortlessly from hit to hit.

The group consists of Twanee Butterfield, Cindy Smith and Jonae Smith and Shelita Ingham and was the brainchild of Success organizer Kevin Bean.

If I Were a Boy by Twanne Butterfield blew me away and certainly gave Beyonce herself a run for her


Former American Idol finalist George Huff was very well-received by audiences after singing, acting and ad-libbing all over the place.

Reggae artist Septimus also gave his last performance in Bermuda after 13 years here, which added even more variety to the show.


American Idol winner Fantasia gave an electric performance - removing her shoes before she had even got going and suggesting ladies in uncomfortable heels do the same because "we're gunna have ourselves a good time."

She performed songs such as Rock Steady and Purple Rain and her energy was incredible - at one point leaping onto a chair in front of the judges.

Add to that a great sound system, excellent band and lighting, and it was altogether a very 'Successful' evening.

All Success finalists will go on to complete a five-city tour of Jacksonville, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City this year. - The Bermuda Sun

"The Making of a Star"

Profile of A future star:
Person in question...Shayla Woods. Gospel Vocalist, Songwriter, Musician, Artist..
Shayla Woods is one of God’s many wonderful creations, with aspirations of being a premier sound in the Gospel music field, she has all of the qualities ready for the job. She is one of the persons that I personally find inspiration in, whether it be her undying faith, wisdom beyond her years, or her sultry voice sweetly cooing over melodious creations. She is definitely the making of something great, something amazing, something that the world waits for. - The Art of Thinking Blog


Christ Life EP (releasing in Summer 2010)



Shayla Woods first began singing at the age of 7 in church services on the island of Bermuda.
As She grew older she began to participate in many Gospel Concerts and perform all around the island.

In the present She possesses a vocal quality that is reminiscent of the smooth coo-ings of Billie Holiday. To Describe Shayla's sound would be to say it is smooth vocals over hard beats. Showing the versatility of her voice as it seemingly blends with hard hitting snares and tenacious synths. Shayla's sound is to put it simply "today" it is very now. But she also possesses that quality that keeps her indispensable. Her vocal range and ability to sing sweetly over any musical accompaniment shows that Shayla's talents extends way beyond the era of the 2000's. Along with her vcal gift that she has honed, her subject matter and reasoning for singing is more than recognition of her own right. Shayla is determined to convey the Word of God to every corner of the globe, her voice as she has stated "is just the vessel of His Choosing."

She is inspired by other artists in her genre such as Cece Winans, The Clark Sisters, Byron Cage, Israel Haughton and Mary Mary . What separates her from the pack is her drive and determination. Her immense skill paired with her heart driven passion is what makes her the perfect example of today's singer.

Shayla was recently accepted to the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota. She will be enrolling in Spring 2010 where she will be pursuing a BA in Music Performance. Her instrument of focus will be Voice.