Shy’m is the French equivalent of Beyoncé or Rihanna (take your pick), which basically means she’s a former R&B chick who now enjoys broad crossover appeal. She’s become an important figure and one of the biggest names in the French music biz.
Shy’m is a stage name — the “shy” is for her shyness, and the “M” for the island of Martinique, her father’s homeland.
With mainstream success came even more exposure on France’s version of Dancing with the Stars, and as of late, she’s been making headline for things that have nothing to do with her music. But we’ll skip the celebrity gossip, and just stick to exploring her music catalog.
Born and raised in Trappes (a Paris suburb), Tamara Marthe always had a passion for singing and dancing. Her mother, from Normandy, and her father, who’s an amateur musician, exposed her to Soul, Blues, Zouk / Antillean music, and French Pop as a child.
She began pursuing a dance career in earnest after high school, and it was her dance instructors who encouraged her to record a singing demo to shop around to record labels.
An audition with the French/Canadian rapper K.Maro led to her appearance on his Million Dollar Baby album on the top 10 hit “Histoires de Luv” and the track “Nice and Slow.” The two have been teamed up ever since, with K.Maro (aka Cyril Kamar) producing all of her albums — each one reaching the top 10 in France.
Shy’m shot to stardom in 2006 with the release of her debut album Mes Fantaisies. It reached number 6 on the album charts and went platinum in France. It includes the hits “Victoire,” “T’es Parti,” and “Femme de Couleur.”
(Please note: Shym’s albums are only available as physical CD’s in the U.S. No digital formats are available.)
Her very first single, “Femme de Couleur,” is an homage to Martinique and her cultural identity. The universal lyrics are relatable for anyone of color who wants to celebrate their heritage.
If you enjoy Urban Pop, then you’ll find this 2008’s Reflets a solid effort that holds up well over time. The production is heavier and more electronic — but not overly so — and the format works for both R&B and Pop radio. Singles included “La premiere fois,” “Step Back,” and the number 2 single “Si Tu Savais.” Reflets reached number 4 on the French charts.
Shy’m was aiming straight for the masses with 2010’s Prendre l’Air. Her upbeat, triple platinum album embodies the very definition of the phrase, “going Pop.” The Pop undercurrent that was always in her music was pushed to the forefront, and she made her first forays into Electro / Dance Pop as well. She wanted to break out of the R&B box, be more creative, and stand out from the pack, and boy did she with this album.
Singles included “Je Sais,” “Je Suis Moi,” “Prendre l’Air” and “Tourne.”
Her 2012 album, Caméléon, is basically an ode to EDM (electronic Dance music). It reached number 1 in France and went triple platinum with help from the leadoff single, “Et Alors,” which reached number 2.
Other singles included “Et Si,” “On se fout de nous,” “Caméléon” and “En Apesanteur,” which features some beautiful vocals:
I’m not really feeling this whole Glow Stick Pop thing she’s doing, and I wish she’d make music that’s a bit more timeless. I’m totally OK with her branching out from R&B, but I also like the idea of classic albums you can always come back to, and no matter what, Caméléon is always going to sound like summer 2012, which is a shame.
Her first 3 albums are worth picking up — particularly Mes Fantaisies if you like R&B — and you should definitely keep an eye on this ever-evolving artist to see what she does next.