Get ready to meet your new fave. Shea Diamond, the singer who garnered buzz and headlines for her anthemic single “I Am Her,” is back with a new single “Keisha Complexion,” a funky ode to melanin and those who love it.
On the day of the release of the “Keisha Complexion” video, Diamond spoke to INTO about her love for Tina Turner, what it means to show trans people as desirable and why Black beauty is never inadvertent.
Your song is called “Keisha Complexion,” and in the video, you depict Black skin in so many different lights and settingslike out in the sun, under pink light. What does “Keisha Complexion” mean and what does your video try to say differently about Black skin and Black beauty?
In the video, I thought it best to click Black skin in different lights and settings as a necessary reference as we see our images through our eyes in a wide variety of shades and colors! I thought it urgent to reflect the beauty of Black skin and in it’s natural state, as pure as water and smooth as fine wine. Allowing the viewers to really see the beauty in Keisha’s beautiful skin in contrast to bright, vibrant colors and the essence of sexiness as her complexion is kissed by the sun. Unapologetically, she fans her face calling out colorism for fucking up the world of Black beauty and shattering the confidence of those with darker skin by making it more difficult for them to navigate and have equal access to the word beauty no matter the degree of darkness or lightness.
There’s nothing I can say differently about Black skin and Black beauty that we don’t already know, but I can remind my generation so the little black girls can hold their heads up and know they aren’t inadvertent beauties!
You’ve said before that you were a big fan of Tina Turner growing up. In what ways do you think Tina Turner had an influence on the song and visuals for “Keisha Complexion”?
Yes, I am a huge fan of Tina Turner–she is one of my long-time childhood influences. Tina may have had an influence on the song in many ways. This song is powerful and, not unlike Tina, I think I have a great pair of chocolate legs! But seriously, no one has legs like Tina.
Who are some of the other artists you would consider major musical influences?
Some of my other major musical influences include Nina Simone, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Mary J Blige, Diana Ross, James Brown–but I honestly have a great deal of respect and appreciation for all forms music!
Throughout the video, you show yourself in lots of different looks. You have the glammed up look, the pool look and the kind of housewife in pajamas with rollers in her hair look that is giving very “Why Don’t You Love Me” by Beyonce. Were you playing several “characters” or would you say you are showing different all aspects of yourself?
For me, it was important to express the fact that my love interest has such a strong sense of admiration for my beauty as he literally sees it when I’m wearing hair rollers and my house slippers in the same light as any beauty on TV.
In the video, she never left the house. He’s able to see her outside of the visual restrictions TV and media giving men limited access to depictions of beautiful Black skin being equally represented.
And, yes, it gives me a rare opportunity to show both sides of my life: the performance, and theevery day homebody with no glam, no stage, and a sexy man that loves me.
Most of the time, the media only represents trans people when it comes to violence, especially Black trans women. In your video, you show yourself as sexy and as the point of desire. Do you think it’s important to use your music to challenge media narratives around desirability and Black trans women?
It’s important to let it be known trans People are who they say they are. I chose to show the part of a trans woman being desired and having a wonderful life outside of the image the media wants to project or highlight.
Yes, trans women are being killed, TV music and media are responsible in part for refusing to show us outside of the lines of sex humor tragedy or disgust.I think it’s important to use all forms of music and media to continue to challenge colorism in all forms of phobia and systems of hate. I’d like for this song to stand as my personal testament that Black trans women are loved, desired and not a joke all of which we’ve been programmed to believe.
I saw on your personal website that you re-Tumbled some artists who influence you and ones that you love. Speaking of “Keisha Complexion,” what do you think of artists like Amara Le Negra and you, who are challenging people to rethink their colorism and what is considered beautiful?
I’ve just discovered the amazing talents of an Amara Le Negr–definitely a triple threat!
I stand with her and others like her that want to help cure the Melanin deficiency of not only the music industry but all forms of media and major platforms that promote beauty. Through their discriminating lenses, using their privilege and influence to ensure there are no dark spots “visible.”
I believe the people that hold the systems are the real corporate; people should really challenge themselves to think outside of the playbook that they have been given to destroy the power of having dark, beautiful melanin skin.
One of your most well-known songs, “I Am Her,” was more anthemic and about what it means to be trans. With this song, it’s much more fun and funky. What is the journey from “I Am Her” to “Keisha Complexion”?
“I Am Her” is not just about what its like to be trans. It’s about more than what it’s like to be a woman in this climate; it’s about femininity in its power!
I am being a definitive word holding power in itself giving more visibility to the feminine energy of her. It’s for all those that support women’s rights as trans rights, the right of feminine energy and those that stand in solidarity that our experience is their experience! I stand with her cause I am her!
There isn’t much of a leap from the song “I Am Her.” They simply gives you an introduction to my pass my challenges that I faced my pronouns and how I feel about the judgment and being the unpopular outcast. Both are powerful songs with necessary messages. “Keisha Complexion” tells the story of love and giving you a personal access into my life as well as my journey of learning to love the dark skin. I was blessed with in spite of the mental programming of color blind people that refuse to see the beauty in dark skin and have tried to ensure we keep pouring milk in our coffee as black is too strong!
What is next after “Keisha Complexion”? When will we get an EP or a mixtape or an album?
What’s next after “Keisha Complexion”? I’m not telling! If you’re a true fan, you do a little legwork! But I can say that because of all the excitement of this release and the announcement of my EP dropping June 29th, entitled Seen It All. We have all kinds of goodies and special Projects that we have been working on that will keep your ears entertained until the EP drops!
I’m also in the studio cooking up more songs. You’re really in for some surprises I hope everyone will follow me on this new journey!