It is no surprise that the sound coming through Shireen Amini is fiery, soulful, and driven by groove. She was born with rhythm, born with passion, and raised with the sounds of tropical Latin music at home amidst the American r&b, pop, and hip hop landscape of the 90s. These foundational threads wove through her Ethnomusicology background, Afro-Latin percussion training, immersion in high desert folk community, decade-long performance stint with a Latin dance rock band, the emboldening influence of socially-conscious music artists of the 21st century, and the artist-activist led community singing movement to emulsify into her own rootsy, Latin-imbued, hip hoppy, spirit-raising, Earth-loving, queer-themed, participatory, healing revolutionary music.
These foundational threads wove through...to emulsify into her own rootsy, Latin-imbued, hip hoppy, spirit-raising, Earth-loving, queer-themed, participatory, healing revolutionary music.
Her soulful singing voice slips into rapid rap-like verses as fluidly as it does into her native Spanish tongue with a candid, tender, humorous and visionary lyrical style. Her liberatory spirit is balanced out only by the raw heartache of humanity she bears, the lived experience of a queer child of Puerto Rican and Iranian immigrants born to this broken system on beautiful stolen land built on the backs of the enslaved. Shireen is pioneering her own version of traditional / modern fusion sounds with higher consciousness in the rash attempt of an indebted artist to do something about everything before it’s too late.
Following in the footsteps of artists like Rising Appalachia, Nahko and Medicine for the People, and Michael Franti, she comes at music from a unique healing activism angle. She sources growth from trauma awareness, nature, and spiritual principles, using songwriting as the transformational medium and delivery vessel for themes ranging from recovering from codependency to venerating queerness to resurrecting indigenous rights to land. And all this with a healthy dash of joy. Embedded in her very approach is a commitment to bring back the ways of old, to remake them relevant in the modern forums of music stations and stages. She uses these ways in order to instigate a foundational principle this country sorely lacks: unity. Simple things like inviting people into community with the music, singing along, shaking a shaker: the sound of everyone belonging to the solution for the beautiful mess we are in.
Shireen is pioneering her own version of traditional / modern fusion sounds with higher consciousness in the rash attempt of an indebted artist to do something about everything before it’s too late.
Shireen released her first studio album in 2007, an eclectic soul-rock record entitled Turnaround EP to mark her emergence from a period of loss and reckoning. At this time, she began performing throughout Central Oregon and because of her connection to the Sisters Folk Festival community had the opportunity to grow her songwriting craft with high-caliber folk artists as mentors, absorbing influences of Americana roots traditions. As a percussionist, she collaborated with such accomplished performers as acclaimed singer-songwriters Susan Werner and Beth Wood, eclectic-folk act Taarka, Oregon hip hop legend Mosley Wotta, and digeridu virtuoso Tyler Spencer. As a singer-songwriter, she took stages at the Sisters Folk Festival, Bend Summer Festival, Central Oregon Pride Festival and has opened for Colin Hay (of Men at Work) for Bend’s Clear Summer Nights series and the Pete Escovedo Orchestra featuring Sheila E. at the Tower Theater in Bend.
Starting in 2012, Shireen splashed onto the Central Oregon scene as the front person for the Latin dance rock band ¡Chiringa! performing a blend of tropical covers and funk-infused original music. The band has had the chance to open for two of its greatest musical inspirations, Ozomatli and the Gipsy Kings, and has made waves in the greater Pacific Northwest region with its passionate and high-energy shows. ¡Chiringa! released its debut album Familia in 2017, a Latin funk-salsa-cumbia record with the majority of tracks penned by Shireen. Set to the infectious rhythms of tropical rock music, this socially-conscious album tackles a range of issues from mental health, taking “Vitamin P” or addressing our ails with the joy medicine of a good Latin dance party, to the Orlando nightclub shooting of 2016 with “Los Bellos,” honoring the precious LGBTQIA+ lives that were lost to poor gun control and a senseless hate crime.
After successfully crowdfunding through the COVID-19 pandemic Shireen released her second solo album Break Myself Free in 2021, a pop-rock-soul record filled with energizing grooves, anthemic choruses, and soulful stories of change. Ben Salmon wrote in 1859 Oregon’s Magazine “…her new album Break Myself Free, a seven-track eruption of self-discovery, self-expression and self-actualization. Amini mines a variety of styles on the album, from hip-hop and hard rock to pop, acoustic folk and beyond. Lyrically, it’s like listening to on one of those hi-def nature videos of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, spreading its wings and flying off into the sun.” Isaac Biehl of Bend’s Source Weekly quoted, “Through its seven tracks you hear Amini open up and share pieces of hope, self love, and connection…Sound-wise, the album is a fun mix of styles….there are touches of folk, R&B, soul and pop all over the record. One moment Amini will be running through verses almost spoken-word style, and at others be lifting the song with warm vocals.” After submitting the title track, “Break Myself Free,” to the Hope Rises II songwriting contest, she was selected to be among 16 other artists nationwide to be part of this soundtrack for social change.
“…her new album Break Myself Free, a seven-track eruption of self-discovery, self-expression and self-actualization. Amini mines a variety of styles on the album, from hip-hop and hard rock to pop, acoustic folk and beyond. Lyrically, it’s like listening to on one of those hi-def nature videos of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, spreading its wings and flying off into the sun.”
- Ben Salmon, 1859 Oregon's Magazine
In the last several years, Shireen landed in the grassroots community singing movement. one reviving soulful ways of belonging, connection to nature, modern healing awarenesses, and social justice values into frameworks for singing together. She found her people. As a songleader, she shares short-form medicine songs with healing and empowering messages, infectious grooves, and soulful melodies, often engaging her participants in rhythmic play and movement while singing. A number of her original community songs have rippled out into the networks like “I Am Free in my Body,” “The Sun Song,” and “Gather Your Resilience.” In fall of 2022, she completed two tours leading song circles along the West Coast, one of which raised money for the uprisings in Iran and hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. She is currently working on a community song album, to be released in 2023.
Shireen recently relocated from Central Oregon to the big city of Portland: the original territory of the Chinook, Siletz, Clackamas, Cowlitz, Grande Ronde tribes and more. Here she has begun to bring her queer medicine roots-pop to stages like Portland Pride Festival and Atlantis Lounge PDX, and regionally to venues like Primaltones in Newport and the Jazz Station in Eugene. She is currently gathering members for her new band collective, tentatively-called Shireen Amini & the Reach, which will combine the energizing live performance of her original singer-songwriter and community songs for a powerful village music experience, debuting performance also in 2023.
Maintaining a healthy and vital connection to her Latin musical expression, Shireen continues to travel to Central Oregon to perform with ¡Chiringa! and also recently joined Portland-based Grupo Masato as a percussionist and backing vocalist. As part of her soul work, Shireen also teaches drumming to youth, songleaders, and changemakers, leads workshops, and facilitates grief ritual. You can learn more about her community-based music empowerment project through her website Shireen Amini Music Medicine.
Shireen Amini (non-binary using she/her pronouns in English and elle in Spanish) is a queer, Puerto Rican-Iranian-American, Earth-loving musician based in Portland, Oregon: the original territory of the Wasco, Multnomah, Chinook, Siletz, Clackamas, Cowlitz, Grande Ronde tribes and more. As a human, she carries a deep commitment to her own liberation path and vision of a more just world. As an acoustic singer-songwriter, to this end, she blends pop, rock, hip hop, latin, and roots sensibilities with socially-conscious themes and soulful stories of change. In 2021, Shireen released an energizing and anthemic pop-rock-soul record called Break Myself Free, a proud proclamation of her queer identity and an invitation into deeper connection with the Earth. Its title track recently won the Hope Rises II songwriting contest, selected to be among 16 others by artists nationwide on this album compilation for social change. She continues to write and release original queer medicine roots-pop like her most recent single “What I Am (A Non-Binary Song)” (2023). With brave authenticity and heart-centered warmth, you can find Shireen performing, leading community song circles, or a delightfully blurry blend of both, in the Pacific Northwest region and beyond. She also teaches drumming, leads workshops, and facilitates grief ritual as part of her community-based music empowerment project Shireen Amini Music Medicine.
SHORT DESCRIPTION: Shireen Amini is a queer, Puerto Rican-Iranian-American, Earth-loving musician based in Portland, Oregon. She blends rock, latin, hip hop, and roots music with socially-conscious themes and soulful stories of change.
4-WORD DESCRIPTION: Queer Medicine Roots-Pop
acknowledgments & Commitments
First, I want to acknowledge that I have made music for most of my life on this land that was stolen from the First Nation peoples and colonized by Europeans long before I was born. I have been raised by the earth, trees, air, animals, and waters of this land. Still, I am a settler here. And still, First Nation peoples suffer displacement, cruelty, and injustice. On this land, African descendants endured the brutalities of slavery and epochs of oppression in changing forms. I have benefited from and absorbed into my being the incredible music that emerged from these peoples in the contexts of survival, resilience, and societal movements. Still, I am a non-Black person of color. And still, Black Americans endure injustice and inequity from the racism bred into our our psyches and molded into our systems. On this land, a capitalist culture prevails that exploits our natural resources and our humanity for the sake of profit, leading to suffering ecosystems, catastrophic weather events, a devastating wealth gap, and widespread psycho-spiritual illness. Still, I function inside this capitalist system and largely play by its rules.
As a queer, gender non-binary, person of color, I have experienced the insidious effects of a homophobic, gender-phobic, patriarchal shame culture and the unconscious absorption of white supremacy with subsequent internalized self-loathing, othering, and cultural erasure. Still, by some grace, I have been given the resources and relationships to help me accomplish the enormous task of healing and loving myself.
Needless to say, here in America, there is too much to ignore and more than I can ever address in my lifetime. However, as an artist, I believe I hold a responsibility to serve our cultural transformation, for the thriving of all beings and all life. And so, as an artist, this I commit:
• I commit to continuing my own personal soul, healing, and recovery work
• I commit to creating music that is constructive, countercultural, and conscious in messaging
• I commit to utilizing my platform wherever possible to make necessary statements and speak up for the important causes of our time
• I commit to deepening my awareness of and relationship to nature
• I commit to making as many choices as I can in the operation of my business that are environmentally-sustainable
• I commit to balancing the intensity of activism with the medicines of humor and joy
• I commit to honorable exchange when it comes to utilizing the gifts of musical ancestry: acknowledging lineage, original cultural contexts, and original authors
• I commit to maintaining a regular practice of raising awareness and raising funds in support of lands and peoples that need care wherever possible
• I commit to being transparent about my own identities and sharing my story whenever it is safe to do so
• I commit to including community and youth work as an integral part of what I do
• I commit to work, life, and relationship balance that keeps me doing what I love and loving what I do
• I commit to celebrating all that is good wherever possible
• I commit to listening when I can do better
And I commit to all this knowing I am an imperfect human being. Knowing my commitments may evolve with changes in me and the world around me. I ask for kindness and boldness from my community of supporters in holding me accountable. And I invite collaboration in innovating new ways in which I can be an artist in service of the greater good.
With great honor, heart, and joy,
(I currently use she / her / hers pronouns in English
AND I identify as gender non-binary.
In Spanish, I use the non-binary pronoun elle)