In conversation with Jahla Rasheart

Sharon, also known as Jahla Rasheart, is a yoga and fitness instructor, saxophonist, studio owner, engineer, producer and co-owner of Rasheart record label. Born and raised in Tottenham, she has lived in the area for more than 40 years.

Sharon has been recording and producing music since 2004 and set up her first recording studio over 10 years ago. She has four children and when her youngest was two she decided to return to education to study music management. During that time she pursued keyboard skills, music theory, music production and studio engineering.

Sharon later decided to set up her own studio, Empressive Studio, based on what she’d learnt. ‘This place was about people having the space to be creative without being influenced or anybody else being part of that process.

‘I’m focusing on creating and producing good quality sounding content with positive messages that the community can connect with.’

All photos: Joanna Bongard

Sharon wanted to make Empressive Studio a space that supports women in music. ‘[I envisioned it being] somewhere for them to go where they’re not intimidated in an environment that’s male dominated, either working on the technological side or as a musician, songwriter or artist.’

Sharon works on a lot of her own productions and has a reggae label, Rasheart, which she co-runs with reggae artist Selvie Wonder.

Sharon is currently working on an album for Selvie with some new rhythms and tracks. She is also working on a rhythm sampler album, which will have varied interpretations of an instrumental piece by different reggae artists.

Selvie writes most of the lyrics and Sharon produces the rhythms, interpreting his lyrical flow and ideas into music. ‘I take the vocals down, usually to timing, and from there I can hear what’s going on and start laying down sounds underneath it… You might get an input of me playing the sax to add a bit of texture.’
Sharon has been on tour with Selvie and has performed as a saxophonist and backing vocalist at some of their gigs, as well as acting as his manager and booking agent. Although Sharon has performed live she explained, ‘I’m on the technical side and I prefer it that way.’

All photos: Joanna Bongard

Although Sharon’s own music has a reggae focus, as a sound and studio engineer, she has worked across different genres including rock, pop, rap, grime, soul, gospel, afrobeats, calypso and soca. She is also working on some new tracks of her own that she describes as urban fusion. ‘I’ve let my creativity go without being honed into a certain style or genre.’

Sharon is also a certified Basu yoga instructor, an Exercise To Music instructor and teaches Kemetic Ancient Egyptian Yoga at the Tottenham Community Sports Centre (if you’re looking for some chilled out exercise – this is for you). The Kemetic Yoga class costs £5 and runs twice a week on Monday at 8pm and Thursday at 11am.

Sharon also runs family-friendly Reggaetivity ‘connecting communities’ sessions, at Redmond Community Centre, on the Woodbury Downs estate in Manor House, on Tuesdays at 6pm. The class combines the meditational movements of Kemetic Yoga with reggae-aerobics, soca-aerobics and Zumba. ‘Anything that gets you up, moving and happy!’ It’s £3 to attend or £5 with a child and is followed by a free vegan supper club, Vital n Ital, at 7.30pm. The supper club receive food surplus as donations from local shops, Sainsbury’s Local, Seasons & Blossoms and the Felix Delivery Project in Enfield.

This article first appeared in the Music & Performance issue of Discovering Tottenham which was released in June 2018.

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