Shea Diamond’s soulful debut EP, Seen It All, is full of depth and biting commentary — but it’s sexy too. Diamond walks the line between fun, dark, and wise with a skill that can only come as an extension of her authentic lived experience. Seen It All contains anthems that make you think but don’t preach, pop songs that make you dance but aren’t contrived, and a refreshing breath of air from a songwriter telling her story without self-consciousness.
Shea Diamond was born in Arkansas and assigned a gender she did not accept. While trying to obtain the financial means to transition to her true gender, she committed a crime and was sentenced to ten years in a men’s prison. But during this horrible experience, Diamond found her voice, eventually writing “I Am Her,” a ballad that beckons the listener to reckon with her marginalized experience.
Shea’s story is enough to make you weep, but the EP isn’t a sob story or a pity party. It’s a declaration of her right to be seen, to be loved, to be sexy, to live her truth, and to achieve her dreams.
The EP opens with the ballad “American Pie,” in which she declares, “I’m not a stranger, I’m just like you … Just want my piece of the American Pie.” “Keisha Complexion” shows a flirtation that’s got Shea feeling herself. Her breakout song “I Am Her” acknowledges that she is an outcast but, even so, she is proud of herself. “Good Pressure” is a sexy song about a love that provides solace in a hostile world. In the gospel-influenced “Seen It All,” Diamond declares that she is “living the best-case scenario.”
The relationship between an artist-songwriter and the listener is intimate in a way we can take for granted. As we listen, we are taken along a ride from the artist’s perspective and asked to relate their experiences to our own. In this sense, Shea Diamond’s EP is no different in the way each song forges a connection with the listener. But to be given taken on this exploration of the soul of a trans woman presented not as a novelty, but as a true artist, is so unique that it is downright radical. Listeners with privilege are led to admit to themselves that they have not in fact seen it all.