Rising Music Star Aneesa Sheikh: How I Aim To Remind Everyone That “Tough Times Don’t Last, But Tough People Do!”

I would encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to videotape themselves singing a portion of my new song “Tough Times” in a solid color top of their choice and post it on social media and share it with ten people they know personally. This would reach many different communities around the globe and spread […]

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I would encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to videotape themselves singing a portion of my new song “Tough Times” in a solid color top of their choice and post it on social media and share it with ten people they know personally. This would reach many different communities around the globe and spread the message of hope that my song embodies through music; “Tough Times don’t last, but tough people do!” This concept would develop into a ripple effect that unites people across the globe of all different backgrounds!

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Aneesa Sheikh.

Figure Skater turned songwriter, philanthropist and Miss Michigan Teen USA 2020, Aneesa Sheikh will be releasing an upcoming single “Red Lipstick” (Release date August 2020) which shares a universal message of friendship which appeals to the pre-teen and teenage groups.

Born in Kentucky and the youngest of 5 siblings, Aneesa was a go-getter from the start. Having an athletic family, she dabbled in swimming and figure skating leading her to pursue competitive skating, at the age of nine. At one point she was skating eight hours a day and commuting back and forth from Kentucky to the training facility in Michigan known for turning out big-name Olympic skaters like Tara Lapinski/ While she has a talent for skating and was captain of the varsity figure skating team at her high school, her true passion was for music. Inspired by Miley Cyrus, Aneesa learned to play the guitar at age 8. As soon as she became comfortable playing the guitar (acoustic and electric), she began to write her own music. One of her first singles “Bad Thing” was intended to open the eyes of teenagers to toxic relationships. The music video accumulated over 138k views on YouTube. Her most recent single “Tough Times” held an emotional note for her as it was written for her ailing father who has previously suffered from two strokes. She felt the underlying message explores resilience, determination and hope in response to anyone’s personal trauma, timing this as a reminder for those needing courage and strength during these unprecedent times.

The young beauty may be in the beginning of her adult life, but it hasn’t discouraged her from pursuing other passions such as philanthropic work. Her non-profit organization, Music4M.I.R.A.C.L.E. is an acronym for Music, Inspires, Reaches, Accepts, Captures, Loves, Equally. She founded the non-profit as she truly believed that music was a miracle to her father during his rehabilitation from his first stroke. Her goal through Music4M.I.R.A.C.L.E. is to spread music therapy and give hope to those who are experiencing a medical crisis. She has been given the opportunities to perform at many charities such as St. Jude’s, the Healing Notes Foundation, and many rehabilitation and nursing centers. During COVID-19 and the shutdowns, she has Skyped with many institutions and singing for patients who have been isolated from many outside visitors.

Her dream is to live a life where she can utilize every talent and skill that she was born with to help others. Through her music, she hopes to encourage others to live a courageous life without regrets. Currently residing in Michigan, Aneesa likes to spend her free time dancing, jump roping and loves everything involving beauty and fashion.

Thank you for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to pursue your passion for music?

Growing up as the baby of a very large family, I did not want to be compared to my older siblings who figure skated competitively on Team USA. None of them were interested in music; therefore, it was exclusive to me. When I picked up my grandpa’s twelve-string and wrote my first song at fourteen, I then realized the beauty of telling a story through a song, and I knew music was not just a hobby — it was my passion.

Through all my activities and experiences growing up, music has never been a phase that I grew out of, there is not a day that has gone by where I haven’t picked up my guitar and practiced. Initially, I played electric and classical guitar. I think I was the only fifth grader with a fuzzy pink guitar strap playing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” instead of a typical Justin Beiber cover.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of composing your music videos? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

There are too many funny stories to narrow it down to just one! if I have to pick, I guess the funniest thing is when I was filming “Tough Times” Music video at the “Russell Industrial Center” in Detroit, which just so happens to be where my sister, Ameena’s law firm is located. In the middle of the outdoor chair scene a hand built car made out of wasted materials called “The Freakmobile” was taken out for a test run. After a long day of filming, it was a fun surprise! The funniest part is that two weeks later my talented videographer “Brand1films” sent me a video of the “freakmobile” all over the news in the U.S. around Detroit!

What would you advise other young adults/teens who want to emulate your success?

Become obsessed with the craft and the process of this business — manifest, manifest, manifest! Make your craft all that you think and dream about. Move forward with the mindset that no one or anything can defocus you from achieving the success you envision for yourself.

I am from Kentucky which is the horse capital! When I was little, I would listen to my parents tell my sisters to put their “race-horse blinders” on when they practiced and competed in ice-skating — just like a Thoroughbred race-horse!

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

I am grateful to learn from every person I encounter even if I have had a good or bad experience with them. My family has had a huge impact on my life. My mom has been my biggest supporter in all aspects of my career. She is very strategic and has taught me to be as well, which is super important in this industry and in life! The experiences I had with my father have been very impactful on my life. He taught me self-worth, sacrifice, and persistence.

While living with him and acting as his caregiver, the experiences (such as helping him walk) were very challenging, but he guided me and with that, I learned how to be selfless and strive under pressure.

As I have said, “Like clockwork, my father calls my phone and I make my way outside to his car. Time for our daily walk. No one else for him to call, it’s just him and I. Sometimes this walk irritates me, sometimes I resent him for it, and I never look forward to it but I know that I will forever miss it.” All along with tending to my father, making sure I was always home for this walk, and remaining optimistic as I see his health fail him. This walk taught me how to be selfless, live in the present, and see the joy in the smallest things. Knowing I would miss this walk, internally made me love and cherish it without ever viewing it as a hardship.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I recently founded a non-profit organization, “Music4M.I.R.A.C.L.E.” that aims to spread music therapy. I use my music to give people that are sick a feeling that everything will be okay in the end. Constantly being told that everything will get better only goes so far to a person’s heart. One of the many impacts from the pandemic is that there is a no visitation policy for many medical communities/centers, leaving patients alone, scared, and without a source of entertainment. Through “Music4M.I.R.A.C.L.E.” I have been able to utilize virtual platforms to sing to them and have my songs streamed in their hospital rooms.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

My organization is an acronym that stands for, “Music, Inspires, Reaches, Accepts, Captures, Love, Equally.” I first-hand witnessed the power of music when my father had a stroke. Not only did singing for him to help him gain his speech back, but it also gave him hope and entertainment. I believe music is truly a miracle in itself. The best way to give back in life is when you are passionate about something and can use it to make a selfless difference in society. Music has allowed me to do this.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

In January I participated in “The Runway of Hopes and Dreams 2020” at the Pistons’ center in Detroit. This event is part of “Wish Upon a Teen Michigan” which recognizes pediatric cancer. I walked down the runway with a young boy named “Duce” and since then I have been able to zoom and sing for him while he has been at the hospital with no visitors. Seeing him answer the zoom call with an eager smile of joy is why I created the organization in the first place. Knowing that my music puts a smile on his face for even a couple minutes and gives him a feeling through my music that lasts is why music is my passion and purpose.

Are there things that individuals or society can do to support you in this effort?

Yes! Music is how I can help individuals affected by a medical crisis. I would love to see musicians video tape themselves and send the tapes to their local hospital or nursing center to be streamed in patients rooms during this time. We all have skills and natural gifts that can be used to help people in the same situation. Let us find our passions and make them our purpose!

What are a few things you wish someone told you before starting your music career?

Develop your skills when you’re young so that when it is your time to step in front of industry professionals you are prepared and you don’t have to learn in front of them — you’re ready to go! Also, do not get bothered by hiccups. Recognize and learn from them but stay focused on the big picture.

You are a young adult of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to videotape themselves singing a portion of my new song “Tough Times” in a solid color top of their choice and post it on social media and share it with ten people they know personally. This would reach many different communities around the globe and spread the message of hope that my song embodies through music; “Tough Times don’t last, but tough people do!” This concept would develop into a ripple effect that unites people across the globe of all different backgrounds!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

My sister Sameena told me “You will never get this moment, second, day back, use it to help yourself because there will always be someone out there who is when you aren’t.” This statement has been my motivation in all aspects of my life. Whenever I find myself not being productive, I remind myself of this and I get up and start working. I do believe in moderation is key, thus I give myself a break from time to time as well.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

There are two icons that I would love to share a meal with Jewel and Santana. These two artists have been my inspiration since day one. I skated to a medley of Santana’s greatest hits and to Jewel’s songs after I watched my oldest sister, Ameena skate to them. I loved how she interpreted their music on the ice… so inspiring!

Santana is the reason why I wanted to play guitar and Jewel faced many challenges growing up but used her musical talents to help herself and others with her philanthropic work. I’ll never forget when I read a true story about a time when she was a teenager and couldn’t afford to go home during a school break, so she sang at bus stations all the way from Michigan to California and made money that way… a true hustler.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

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