Local hip hop artist amasses global following

Photo by Alvan Washington The Lioness (l) and Omar Abdulkarim will give thanks at The Dakota.

Music has always been a part of Shaiwna Adams’ life. Raised in North Minneapolis, Adams’ journey into music began at age 11 when she was introduced to the drums.

By age 12, she joined her church choir where she honed her singing voice. Then hip hop captured her attention. By age 15, she began transcribing her spoken word poetry into recorded songs.

After years of developing and perfecting her craft on the underground scene, Adams, better known as The Lioness, has amassed a following that extends across the globe. With two full-length albums under her belt, The Lioness will take the stage at the Dakota Jazz Club on November 29 with a variety of artists.

“All of the artists on the bill have inspired me in one way or another,” said The Lioness. “They are really out here doing their thing and we wanted to give a space to showcase their body of work.” With the theme of giving thanks, the Dakota show will include a live band featuring Brandon Johnson on drums, Jeff Bailey on bass, Omar Abdulkarim on trumpet, and Ryan Bynum on the keys.

In addition to the live band, The Lioness will also be joined by a collection of local artists including Dem Atlas, Destiny Roberts, Essjay the Afrocentric Ratchet, G.P. Jacob, Maya Marchelle, Radio Ahlee, and Solo Star.

“Playing at the Dakota means a lot. A year ago, I wrote a vision on a board in my studio that I wanted to create a show with an afro-hip hop, jazz fusion. I love jazz. I love Robert Glasper and love how he’s able to take jazz and put a hip hop spin on it. This show will feature lots of improv, but it will also be very chill.”

With her 2016 debut, “Growing Pains,” and her latest release, “Greater Vision,” The Lioness has been able to travel extensively with her music, having toured 48 of the 50 states and other areas across the pond including Paris, London, Denmark, and Sweden. “Being in those places was so surreal. I almost broke down on stage,” recalled The Lioness. “Coming from the North Side, my mom raised six of us by herself and it was difficult. Those struggles helped me to appreciate the things I have. It’s hard to describe the feeling other than an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.”

When speaking about the growth and maturation between her two albums, The Lioness noted, “As I evolve, so does my music. ‘Growing Pains’ was about me trying to find myself and getting out of a rut. ‘Greater Vision’ is seeing the light, going new places, evolving and changing your surroundings.” 

She continued, “’Greater Vision’ is a manifestation, seeing the things you want to see, and changing the things you want to happen. The album is 30 minutes long but covers so much ground. It also means that great things are on the way. Not just material things. Love, peace, and abundant joy are all things I desire.

“This is what real wealth is. When I wrote this album, I didn’t necessarily feel those things. Yet here we are a year later. I left the country and spoke those things into existence. So, it’s about being careful about the things I say, but being confident in those things as well.”  

She cites “Possessions” and “Stability” as two of her favorite cuts on her latest release. “I fell in love with the instrumentation on ‘Possessions,’ it made things easy because I was able to talk about joy, peace, and happiness, which are things I have given away and am seeking to re-collect. ‘Stability’ is a cut that was heavily influenced by the Sounds of Blackness. I enjoy that track since stability gives me peace.”

While the world embraces The Lioness’ sound, her excitement for the upcoming Dakota set is palatable. “This show is going to feature all live instrumentation. I’m sharing the stage with all Twin Cities’ artists, all artists I love, so it’s going to be a different vibe and different energy. It’s also a showcase of art. So, let’s all kick it and give thanks.”

The Lioness will be performing at the Dakota Jazz Club on November 29, 2019. The show begins at 10 pm. Doors open at 9:30 pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more info, visit www.dakotacooks.com. To learn about The Lioness, visit her official website at thelionessmusic.com.