The Incredible Shonnie Murrell

Amazing and talented female drummer Shonnie Murrell Tom Tom Magazine Women's Music Magazine 

By Ashley Brooks

For all you MUSIC HEADS out there, have you been craving some good new music from a fresh new artist?  Something new with a little twist of soul?  A little SWEET, SPICE and everything…well you know the rest!  Shonnie Murrell has just the recipe you need!  Compared to artists such as Sheila E and Erykah Badu, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with!  Not only does she sing and play the drums, she dances AND raps!  Talk about a QUADRUPLE THREAT!

Ms. Shonnie Murrell was born in a small little country town called Jonesboro, Louisiana but was primarily raised in Houston, TX. She comes from a family of singers on both her Mother and Father’s side so music was instilled in her at a very young age. So young that she even performed on the legendary Apollo stage at the age of 5! She knew then at that tender age, that she wanted to be an entertainer.  Shonnie got her start by participating and WINNING all of the local talent shows in high school and later opening up for major acts as a college student at Grambling State University. During this time she became more confident that the stage was her home and place where she could let everything out and definitely be in her element.  Her idols and influences as a child were James Brown, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Destiny’s Child, TLC, Madonna, Elton John, Aerosmith, LeAnn Rhimes, Prince, and Sheila E. Ms. Murrell is often called the “Modern Day Sheila E!”  Murrell says that the biggest influence in her career has to be Sheila E. “for the simple fact that she is an icon in this business and she has shown me that you can be beautiful, rock heels, and kill the drums all at the same time!” 

When asked how she started on the drums, she explains, “When I was in high school as a freshman I started out on the clarinet and I remember walking into the band room at my High School (Sharpstown H.S.) during lunch and I saw the quads sitting up on some chairs! I had no idea anyone was in there, so I grabbed the sticks and begin to play! I had absolutely no clue that I was playing these drums right!  My band director Devin Parker ran out of his office and said “FROM NOW ON GIRL YOU’RE PLAYING THESE!” I was excited but nervous at the same time! I progressed so quickly that I became, Drum-Captain, then Drum Major, and obtained a full scholarship at Grambling State University in the World Famed Tiger Marching band.  While at Grambling State I was named Freshman of the Year, Drill Sgt., Master Drill (3RD female in history), and BET Reality Star of “Season of the Tiger”.

Amazing and talented female drummer Shonnie Murrell Tom Tom Magazine Women's Music Magazine

In “Season of the Tiger” Shonnie shows that girls and women are strong enough to do any job given! Shonnie firmly states, “when we are knocked down we have strength to get back up and try again!  When people tell us we can’t, we show them we can!” She goes on to say that, “many times in the band at Grambling which are predominately males, I had to fight very hard not only being a female but being a female on the Drum-Line as well as coming from a core style band entering a show band.”

Some of Shonnie’s most memorable performances and projects include opening up for Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Bobby Valentino and LeToya Luckett. Performing alongside jazz legends like Tom Browne, Marion Meadows, Al Jarreau, Miki Howard and Kirk Whalum. She has performed for L.C. Cooke, “brother of the late great Sam Cooke,” as well. Murrell has songs with Macshawn100, Warren G, Drake and many more! She had the opportunity to perform at the “Sisters Empowering Sisters” conference in Syracuse, New York, where she was so inspired by the women there and it was a blessing to inspire them as well with using her God given talents.

What drives Ms. Murrell?  “My family, my passion for music and my passion for motivating young girls.”  Shonnie’s biggest fans are her entire family but her mother LaWanda, her dads Fredrick, Spike and grandmothers Brenda and Emmie Jean have had the greatest impact. Murrell’s greatest hope is that she will be able to take care of her family financially provide scholarships and build schools of performing arts in urban areas.  Shonnie says “to be able to touch the lives of young girls and women is the greatest feeling in the world! It is definitely a God given talent and I love when I am able to motivate young girls to play percussion instruments and GO HARD!!!  It brings tears to my eyes to know that I have an impact on their lives in a very positive way!”

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