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The Beautiful Voice and Life of Shea Diamond

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Shea Diamond is a true inspiration, both as a musician and an advocate for social justice. With her powerful voice and magnetic personality, she captivates audiences around the world, touching hearts and driving change.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the life and work of Shea Diamond, exploring her unique story, her incredible musical talent, and her tireless activism. Get ready to be inspired by this remarkable artist who is making a difference in the world through her music and passion for equality.

Childhood and Love for Music

Born on March 17, 1978 in Little Rock Arkansas to a mother who was only fourteen years old, she was sent to Memphis, Tennessee, and was raised by relatives. She later grew up in Flint, Michigan, but at fourteen, she ran away and stayed in a foster care home until she turned seventeen and was emancipated.

Shea Diamond
Facebook – @iamsheadiamond

Her childhood was a difficult one, marked by the challenges of poverty and a lack of acceptance of her gender identity. As a young person, Tina Turner became her inspiration but she was chastised for singing high notes in a church choir. There, she directed, sang, and developed her love for singing.

Prison Life

At the age of 20, she resorted to robbing a convenience store at gunpoint in order to fund her gender affirmation surgery. Between 1999 and 2009, she found herself in men’s correctional facilities in Michigan on multiple occasions.

It was during her time in prison that she penned the song “I Am Her.” While incarcerated, Shea experienced discrimination due to her identity as a transgender woman.

She was subjected to protective segregation and frequently lost privileges as a means to separate her from the male inmate population. Humiliation, isolation, and misgendering were employed as forms of punishment.


Upon witnessing a video of Shea Diamond’s captivating a cappella performance of “I Am Her” at a Trans Lives Matter rally, renowned pop songwriter Justin Tranter was deeply moved by her sincerity and remarkable vocal prowess.

Shea Diamond
Facebook – @iamsheadiamond

They swiftly reached out to Shea, and the duo began collaborating on music. Tranter later co-signed her to Asylum Records and assumed the roles of executive producer and co-writer for her debut extended play, Seen It All, which was released on June 29, 2018.

In 2017, she lent her unique voice to a cover of “I’d Love to Change the World” by the English rock band Ten Years After, contributing to the television miniseries When We Rise. Later, in December 2018, Shea became part of the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Rocks initiative, further showcasing her commitment to activism and social change.

Rise to Fame

In February 2019, she received a nomination for the GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Music Artist category. That same year, her song “American Pie” garnered the endorsement of 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who featured it in his campaign rallies.

In June 2019, she headlined the Washington, DC Capital Pride Concert. On June 7, 2019, she unveiled her single “Don’t Shoot,” a track that Paper magazine described as addressing America’s ongoing gun violence epidemic while reflecting Diamond’s experiences as an incarcerated Black transgender woman who has faced systemic discrimination.

Shea Diamond
Facebook – @iamsheadiamond

Shea Diamond’s hand graced the original cover of Sam Smith’s third studio album when it was titled To Die For. She also made an appearance in the music video for their song “I’m Ready,” which featured Demi Lovato.

Her track “I Am America” serves as the theme song for the HBO series We’re Here and was released as a single on April 23, 2020. “I Am America” earned a spot on Billboard’s list of the best LGBTQ songs of 2020. In the same year, Shea released the singles “Stand Up” and “So Lucky,” and contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the Hulu original Christmas film, Happiest Season.

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Why She Likes I AM HER

Shea Diamond’s all-time favorite song is the very first one she wrote, “I AM HER.” From a young age, as early as five years old, she grappled with her personal views on sexuality, spirituality, and her femininity. Her core essence has always been effeminate, and throughout her life, she has faced opposition and battled to live her truth.

Shea Diamond
Facebook – @iamsheadiamond

Incarceration was yet another challenge, an attempt to correct her femininity and penalize her for existing outside of cisgender norms. Feeling like an outcast for most of her life, she began documenting her thoughts about her own existence and that of others like her.

She was angered by the mistreatment they faced, the lack of unconditional love, and the church’s beliefs that demonized, ostracized, and condemned them.

Unbeknownst to her, she started writing her first song, which ultimately became an anthem. While in prison, she sent her songs to the Library of Congress, anticipating her eventual release and continuing to express herself through music.

Her Advice for Aspiring Black Womxn and Trans Artists

She draws inspiration from the late and great music legends, as she believes the originators did it best. She refuses to be confined to any particular genre and relishes the freedom to tell compelling stories. 

Artists like Nina Simone, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, and more, carved their own paths, inspiring young black kids like her who dared to dream. Her unique experiences as a transgender individual allow her to share stories distinct from those of cisgender, straight norms.

Shea Diamond
Facebook – @iamsheadiamond

Her advice for other black women and trans women pursuing a career in the music industry is to stay true to themselves. She encourages them not to try to be a replica of artists like Beyoncé but rather to find their unique sound, perfect it, and create their own lane—riding it like a Tesla.

She emphasizes the importance of originality and not worrying about being underrated or an underdog. She reminds aspiring artists that someone is looking up to them, so they should set an example they can be proud of. Once they achieve their goals, they should become a guiding light, helping others find their way in the music world.

What She Fights For

  • Trans visibility
  • Human rights
  • Maximum wage
  • Decriminalizing survival work
  • Putting a stop to trans murders
  • Protections and women rights
  • Trans equality and more

are just some of the causes she supports. She didn’t fully grasp the impact of her music until one of her transgender sisters enlightened her.

After signing a record deal, she felt as though she might be betraying her community or letting them down. Her friend told her, “Girl, your activism is in your songs.” This realization struck a chord with Shea, as her lyrics boldly address topics such as gender, oppression, equality, and more.

Being an openly transgender recording artist in a transphobic industry is, in itself, a revolutionary act, and Shea continues to make her mark as an advocate and a trailblazer.

Share Shea’s Story and Spread Awareness

Her unwavering courage and dedication to social justice have made her a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. Her beautiful voice and poignant lyrics serve as a testament to her resilience and determination to create a more inclusive and compassionate world.

Her legacy as an artist and activist is a shining example of the transformative power of music, love, and acceptance. We encourage you to share this article with others, so they too can be inspired by her remarkable journey and her unwavering pursuit of equality and justice.

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About the author

Amanda Valentine Dela Cruz
Amanda Valentine is a transgender woman who has written about trans topics for over 10 years for My Transgender Date. She is an author who made it on Amazon’s best-seller list by writing 5 books on trans women’s relationships. Her book “Dating Transgender Women for Gentlemen” peaked at #3 in the Transgender Studies category on Amazon. She started writing at the age of 10 and won a poetry contest in 4th grade which convinced her to pursue a career in literature. Her personal experiences as a transgender woman give her a unique perspective on trans topics.

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