For nearly ten years, soulful singer/songwriter Beckah Shae’s been steadily gaining momentum, establishing her very own Shae Shoc Records with her husband/constant production collaborator Jack Shocklee and turning in seven studio CDs. Along the way, she’s racked up top 10 Billboard Christian CHR radio singles like “Here In This Moment” and “LIFE,” scored a Dove nomination for the latter gem, served as a featured guest on tobyMac’s Billboard blockbuster Tonight album, collaborated with fellow multi-million album seller Montell Jordan on his latest Victory World Music project Shake Heaven and is also gearing up for two appearances on Dove Award winning rap luminary T-Bone’s upcoming album.
As extraordinary as her ascent’s been thus far, Shae’s eighth album unequivocally signals the California born/Nashville bred artist’s arrival as a national force that doesn’t just overflow with her own creative excellence, but also boasts a massive list of all-star guests including Israel Houghton, Crystal Lewis, T-Bone, Eric Dawkins and Canon, sure to solidify her burgeoning platform as a positive hitmaker all the world over. But there’s much more to Champion than merely one of the hottest pop, electronic, R&B and hip-hop soundtracks of the entire year. In fact, a further foray into an astonishing testimony paints Shae as not only the ultimate survivor, but also someone who continues to thrive thanks to faith at the center of her foundation.
“My parents divorced when I was very young, so I come from a broken home,” shares Shae of a complex back story to becoming a Champion. “I walked through many challenging times with my mom, including abusive remarriages, being very poor and spending a lot of time in other people’s homes including battered women’s shelters. Alongside all of that, I suffered a lot of insecurities and went through a season of eating disorders, but even amidst it all, I always knew God was with me and for me.”
In spite of her circumstances, Shae had a supernatural encounter with the Lord at a very young age that she believes planted deep-rooted beliefs beyond verbal explanation. She also credits her devoutly faithful mother, who comes from a strong Jewish family but nonetheless converted from Judaism, and in turn, introduced her daughter to Christ. It’s a faith and heritage the singer/songwriter always clung to even during her tumultuous teens, but it wasn’t until she found herself at her lowest, darkest place in humility and brokenness before the Lord in her early 20s that she surrendered her life completely and was delivered entirely from her personal demons and toxic environments.
“My mom introduced me to Jesus- she’s my Champion as far as that is concerned- and through her humility, grace and love, I saw God’s faithfulness first hand,” she recalls. “I was never personally abused physically or sexually at all, which is an absolute miracle with all that was going around me growing up. Those years allowed me to see Jesus as my savior, protector, provider, best friend, comforter and counselor, which really established who I am today.”
As Shae transferred all of those emotions into Champion, she’s happy to report that besides being happily married to the immensely ingenious “Shoc,” they also have two beautiful children (Joy and Grace) and she’s now walking in complete freedom from the anxiety and bulimia that plagued her younger years. Even a single spin of the album indicates just how vulnerable but concurrently hopeful she’s willing to dig into her songwriting, always striving to channel those previous challenges into a means of present day healing for strugglers of any stripe.
“I’ve walked through a season of defeat, but now I’m walking in victory,” Shae proudly proclaims. “Seeing yourself the way God sees you is the beginning of that freedom and that idea comes through in the theme of Champion. Since we were poor and were always moving around, I had to start over and meet new friends every time. With each adjustment period, I always felt misunderstood, misjudged and like people always had their own assumptions about me. Progress has been slow, but I've stayed persistent and consistent in being faithful to God and this is what He’s done. I’m super passionate about helping others see themselves the way God sees them, no matter what season of difficulty they’re going through. I want them to listen to this and not just see from my life’s example of God’s healing capabilities, but for them to be inspired, encouraged and come to know God intimately, choose the incorruptible, be invincible, see the invisible, and do the impossible.”
Not only has a firm reliance on the Lord paid off in her personal life, but there’s no doubt God’s anointing continues to be on every aspect of the Champion album. Take her fittingly titled “Legacy” collaboration with the legendary multi-Dove Award winner/Grammy nominee Crystal Lewis, which is an unbelievable full circle journey for Shae that she hopes can be passed down to the next generation of music fans.
“One of my darkest times as a teenager was when I was staying with a Jewish family member where I couldn’t really share my Christian faith, and I didn’t have a church or have any type of community,” she explains. “But one of my friends from back home sent me Crystal’s Beauty For Ashes CD and I remember playing it back and forth from my job at the time and having it be the sole source of ministry for me that season. Fast forward all these years later to me getting involved in music, and I was able to present the song idea of leaving a ‘Legacy’ to her and she agreed to be a part of it. She’s been a real Champion for me and is a real example of an artist who planted a seed without even realizing it until decades later. And that’s exactly what I hope to do with my music- sow seeds in other people and have them bear fruit sometime down the road.”
Speaking of someone with a trophy case full of Grammy and Dove Awards, another key collaborator throughout Champion is Israel Houghton, who duets on “Jericho,” a robust pop tune about tearing down the walls that hinder us. The two initially became fast friends when collaborating on T-Bone’s recent tune “Posses My Body” for the I’m In Love With A Church Girl soundtrack, but God also showed additional providence in linking these two powerhouse performers up for this blockbuster duet.
“First off, he’s one of my all time favorite worship leaders, and number one on my dream list of people to collaborate with, so for him to basically say ‘when are we gonna do a song together?’ really blew my mind,” admits Shae. “And check this out for timing and how God’s redefined Champion for me throughout this whole recording process. There was one more vocal part I needed for Israel to complete and we were under a tight deadline, so I called him on the off chance he might be in L.A. for something music-related, even though he travels back and forth between homes in L.A. and Texas. Not only did Israel happen to be in town, but he was at a restaurant right up the street and came in after dinner to finish the vocal!”
And it only gets more mind-boggling from there! Ever see the name Eric Dawkins pop up in CD booklet credits? He’s collaborated with everyone from Justin Bieber to Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera and even Quincy Jones, but wound up reaching out to Shae via Twitter completely unprompted, praising her vocals and suggesting they write together.
“I hadn’t written any songs with anybody before, but I was working so many hours and getting super tired towards the end of the record that the idea of possibly collaborating with outside writers came to me,” she asserts. “Then Eric contacts me after he just wrote on Justin Bieber’s album and I’m like ‘how do you even know about me?’ But we talked on the phone about ideas and he sent me back a demo the very next day, which was absolutely crazy and lead to us writing three songs together- He is brilliant & humble, a genuine Champion, yet another example of how God totally hooked us up!”
In the case of teaming with T-Bone on “My All,” they actually already had established a great friendship (so that was an easy one), though even with their personal connection, Shae makes sure to point out “he’s absolutely an incredible artist and person and has been pioneering hip-hop for decades.” Besides sounding absolutely phenomenal together, the track also benefits from some co-writing assistance from fellow mainstream heavy hitter Crystal Nicole, who’s notched massive hits for Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Rihanna, alongside an armload of Grammy Awards. “It’s a simple song about how He gave His all for us, and that the least we can do is give our all back to Him.”
Throughout all these tunes, Shae turns in the utmost musical relevance, which could just as readily appeal to fans of Christian music favorites tobyMac, Group 1 Crew or Capital Kings, as current EDM scene shapers Zedd (with additional ‘80s-inspired grooves gleaned by sources as diverse as Michael Sembello’s Flashdance soundtrack smash “Maniac” to Peter Gabriel’s Say Anything staple “In Your Eyes”). But of course, no beats would be complete without her main man “Shoc,” who Shae calls “my favorite person on the planet, plus a man of integrity, generosity and loyalty,” not to mention “a constant source of all around inspiration and the crazy talented man who makes all the sounds come together.”
Continues Shae while turning the tide back towards the tunes: “I definitely hope this connects with the Rihanna/Katy Perry crowd, plus there’s more EDM on this album and it’s definitely a hype CD. We got so much feedback from the Destiny album saying how much everyone loved the dance tracks and were looking for more upbeat music to work out to. There’s also a remix of ‘Incorruptible’ by David Thulin, and a remix of ‘Turbo Style’ with Canon that dives directly into the hip-hop world, which is also a new exploration for me.”
Even with all the four on the floor dance grooves, there’s still plenty of room to let Shae’s incomparable voice shine, most notably, on the mid-tempo treasure “Vision.” “That’s definitely my favorite song on the record,” she adds. “Everything about the way that I think and the concept of seeing with your heart is the center of that song. Having the Lord steer my ‘Vision’ is what keeps me moving and keeps me focused to finish strong.”
Naturally, a conversation about Champion can’t be complete without a nod to the title track, which is an all out overcoming anthem anchored in Hebrews 12:2 to remind believers to keep their eyes firmly planted on Jesus, the one and only Champion of our faith. “The imagery we used on the album cover is a drop of blood, which compliments the line in that song ‘it’s in my blood,’” sums up Shae. “Basically because of His blood, we can go on and be a Champion to others. That blood drop is really the theme of this album. The reason why any of us are champions is because we have the bloodline of the ultimate Champion.”