Music is life, power, and expression. Music transcends race, class and cultures. It has been the voice for those who have been marginalized and oppressed.
Aspiring artist Sho’Roc is arguably the first hard of hearing recording artist that sings vocally and uses American Sign Language at the same time when he performs. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware and later moved to Washington, D.C. where he attended to the world renowned deaf college, Gallaudet University.
Sho’Roc’s smooth, melodic singing style, known for catchy hooks and irresistible charm is what makes him unique in this music world. As he continues to develop and grow as an artist, performer and songwriter his passion for music runs deep.
For the starters, let the people know where Sho’Roc is from and what you are about.
The one and only first state of Wilmington, Delaware aka Small Wonder. I am hard of hearing and know American Sign Language. I am known to have a laid back personality and tend to speak witty and smooth. I am rooted from the old school that loves to spread good vibes and just have a good time. Friends and family sometimes will say I am known to have a calm spirit and mentally grounded in values and work ethics. At the same time I love to dance and hit the dance floor moving and get it popping. Party like a rock star and live like there’s no tomorrow and constantly work on improving myself and work on my moves, pop locking and connecting to the music as much as possible. I am loving and caring and love to see other people feeling good and shining too. We can shine and keep the beacon lit for the next generation. Let’s go higher!
How did you get your artist name and what does it stand for?
When I was a freshman at Gallaudet University and began to take interest in becoming a recording artist for Hip-Hop. My right hand man Prinz-D was like what will be your rap name and I was like I don’t know until one day sitting in the dorm room I came up with Sho’Roc (Shorty Rock) derived the name for being short and when I got behind the mic in the booth or performed at a open mic people would say, “You rock it!”
How long have you been making music and who are some of the artists that inspired you to want to make music growing up?
I have been doing Hip-Hop the longest and then later R&B and Pop. For about 15 years in total I have been writing, recording and performing as a hard of hearing musician. Growing up, I was inspired by a lot of Hip-Hop/Rap old school mix with new school cats like Rob Base, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Biggie, 2 Pac, Jay-Z, DMX, Nas, Busta Rhymes and many more. Of course not only Hip-Hop, I grew up listening to music in the house from my parents listening to Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Earth Wind and Fire, Luther Vandross just to name a few. During my own personal time I would listen to Usher, Michael Jackson, Boy II Men, Marvin Gaye, Chris Brown, Bruno Mars, Luther Vandross, Ed Sheeran and many more.
You are probably the first hard of hearing recording artist that sings vocally and uses American Sign Language at the same time when you perform. Isn’t that difficult? How do you practice it?
Well, there are other hard of hearing/deaf artists that use ASL and vocals at the same time such as Sean Forbes and Prinz-D. Now speaking for myself, yes! I have been one of the originals to have done ASL and sing vocally at the same time during a live performance. Yes, it can be challenging because doing two languages at the same time using English and American Sign Language feels like my brain is split into two parts that requires a lot of practice and focus. Sometimes I feel like I need WD-40 just to keep things running smoothly. So I have to practice for hours after hours, weeks after weeks and months after months just to feel confident enough that I am clear and flowing in sync on the beat. They say perfect practice for perfect results which is always the goal. I tell myself think it out, work it out and act it out and eventually I will get it right!
When did you recognize that you have a hearing impairment? Did you have an accident or is it innate?
Great question: I was born with hearing loss. When I was 4 years old my parents noticed I didn’t speak fluently or clearly like other hearing kids should at my age. So of course like any parents would be, they were concerned and they took me to visit an audiologist for some testing and they found out I had some hearing loss in both ears but my right ear is better than my left ear. Then they sent me to a school program for early child education and took up speech therapy for numerous years throughout my high school.
What type of obstacles do you encounter as a person who is hard of hearing when writing and recording music?
Some of the obstacles I would face is when writing I will have a mental block and recording as a hard of hearing musician can be challenging because of pronunciation and finding out what words that I can sing or spit clearly enough for hearing listeners to understand. I also face some obstacles when I am singing, I may be off pitch due to my hearing ability so I salute to engineers and producers for their work and assisting me when needed.
How would you describe your musical style and sound?
My musical style is simple and just myself with some added spices. I tend to challenge myself to be creative and open to try new ways on delivery, tone and sounds. Any sound that is good to me I will play it back and listen to it for days and weeks before making a final decision. I say my style is mixed with old school and new school. Whoever artists that appeals to me and that is trending. I sometimes feel like the Jack of all trades. I keep an open-minded to try something new and challenge myself to do things differently with my vocals. Never limit yourself to just one thing. Every now and then I will throw in some extra flavor if I feel something is missing and realize I end up producing a new type of sound.
You just released your official single and video titled “Go Higher,” what is the song about and where can people stream it?
I love this song! Every time I listen it gives me goosebumps, especially on certain parts of the songs. This song is about when certain types of people that have negative vibes or energy want to see you fall. But you tell yourself I refuse! Then I will use their negative energy and switch to a positive energy and continue to work harder in productivity and it gives me something to write about. The kind of energy I’m speaking of is about a toxic energy that certain people are either bitter or ignorant and want to smack you down, pull down, tell you to shut up, knock you down but in the end I still got back up! You have to have a strong mind to concentrate and dig deep into your soul and your mind. To love yourself and know your worth and say no! I refuse to just fall down or stay low just because you say so. I just simply say I am going to go higher! You can stream the song on iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, many more. Make sure you go and get it because the song is dope! Let’s go higher together and send some positive vibe and bring back hope into our society.
The track is featured on your upcoming album titled “Triple Threat”. Please explain the title and concept of the project. When will it be released?
“Triple Threat” is a Hip-Hop, R&B and Pop album. It’s all about culture, style, fashion, storytelling and club bangers. This album will be timeless and will help bridge the gap between deaf and hearing communities to better understand each culture.
What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your music career?
Well, for starters is completing an album that has all 3 genres of music Hip-Hop, R&B and Pop. Another accomplishment was my first international performance in Osaka, Japan, hosted by JDAO (Japanese Deaf Artist Osaka) in 2013, which was one of my best life experiences and to be able to learn about another culture and language. The love and support by the Japanese community was priceless and I will never forget it.
What is your opinion about the music industry? What would you change if you could?
The music industry has changed so much and needs to be reconnected to supporting original musicians like the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s because everyone today is sounding the same. It’s scary! To the point where I feel like the industry can do better and to ensure the listeners they will have different types of artists with different unique vocal sounds. By making sure the artist can evolve and by allowing the artist to have some creative freedom. Once again, originality and innovation is the key for the future.
Do you have a concept for your career, something like a master plan?
My plan is to simply tell my story and to inspire my deaf culture to work hard and follow their dream. I want to perform at various venues that have hearing and deaf communities coming together and to learn from each other. Continue to write and record some good vibes, music and videos. I will continue to motivate, uplift, and support other younger generations who want to pursue their passion and dreams. By doing so I will continue to connect on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and hope the rest of the world will enjoy my music as much as I do.
What are your personal and professional goals you have set for you and your music?
My personal goal is to build and bridge the gap between deaf and hearing communities in educating each other by connecting and learning each other’s cultures. I also want to continue to grow as a songwriter, recording artist and as a performer. My professional goal is to make hit records and to have my music on the top 10 list on the Billboard. Learn more about marketing, mixing, business, boost networking abilities, improve sales and productivity through digital online streaming, to be able to have a full-time career in the music industry.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Always remember to believe in yourself and don’t let anything stop you from making your dream become a reality. Despite all the challenges you may face in life, stay focused, continue to push forward and get the work done. Follow your passion even when you still haven’t found it, keep searching until you find your life purpose. Don’t be bitter but become better at what you do and continue to believe in yourself no matter what anyone else tells you. We only live once so make the best out of it. Shout Out to all my deaf recording artists who are making a difference in our community and continue to spread love and support for each other. You already know! Let’s go higher!