At the age of 13, Shermar Davis was already producing and working in a studio with artists.
“I produced a reggae dancehall album for a Jamaican artist,” Davis said.
But it wasn’t until 2016 that he began pursuing a career as a solo artist.
“Up until that point, all of my music and art had been in efforts to support other people, producing for others, creating for others and things of that nature,” he said.
In May 2020, he released a single titled “So Far Gone,” a pop song on a French fashion label and record label called Kitsune. He is the singer, songwriter and co-producer, and Cheb Miaou is the lead producer for the single.
Davis is now a 30-something and is known professionally by the mononym Shermar (the first “r” is spelled backwards).
He is a pop artist, singer/songwriter, record producer, fashion designer and multidisciplinary artist. He also has a good command Spanish and French.
Davis is interested in all sorts of music, particularly pop music.
Art, he said, is not about the mastery but about the journey.
“I’m always doing something new,” Davis said.
In a recent Facebook post, he stated: “I’m neurodivergent (ADHD, dyscalculia), Black, queer and a host of other blessings.”
ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and dyscalculia is a math learning disability.
Davis grew up in Greensboro. His father is McArthur Davis, former executive director of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro.
“Growing up, I had a great opportunity to meet a lot of politicians and civil rights activists like Maya Angelou, Julian Bond and some of the Greensboro Four,” Davis said.
He said he is passionate about preserving and uplifting Black culture.
He attended UNCG where he studied film and media studies.
Throughout his school years from kindergarten through college, Davis struggled with math.
When he got to college, he did not finish a computer coding class but did well in math classes such as statistics and microeconomics.
“Problem-solving skills were not an issue,” Davis said. “It was more so the actual language of numbers.”
While in college, he was tested and learned that he had an extreme case of ADHD.
He is also a highly sensitive person (HSP).
“I feel everything to extremes,” Davis said.
In 2016, he was diagnosed as having dyscalculia and the same doctor who gave him the diagnosis suggested that he may have savant syndrome because of his learning differences and his prowess in regard to art and music, he said.
Savant syndrome is a condition in which someone with significant mental disabilities demonstrates certain abilities far in excess of average such as rapid calculation or artist ability.
One day, Davis would like to get tested to see if he has the condition.
In 2018, he lost everything because a fire in his home in Greensboro, he said, and moved to Winston-Salem.
Because he has always wanted to be an artist, Davis is big on style and fashion. In preparation for that, when he was about 15, he started buying high-end pieces of clothing.
“I knew I wanted to come into the arena of pop musicianship and present myself in a way that was comparable to other stars like Beyoncé or Lady Gaga,” Davis said.
He compares his style to Björk, an Icelandic singer-songwriter.
“She’s a great inspiration in regard to my art,” he said. “She was one of the people that I saw was impressive in a way that I think is authentic. That’s always been my goal. Not so much the music or even replicating what she does, but just the idea of authenticity being the thing that will propel you.”
After several years of working within the music and arts scene in the Triad, Davis said he was approached in 2016 to write for Jarreau Vandal, a Dutch producer affiliated with “Soulection,’’ on Vandal’s single “Nobody Else.” In 2017, he collaborated with Satin Jackets, a nu-disco group based in Germany, on the song “Never Enough (not the song from “The Greatest Showman”).
Davis’s song “So Far Gone” was picked up by Starbucks last year and put on one of its playlists.
“They were playing it throughout their stores,” he said. “It’s quite a feat for an independent artist.”
A suite of remixes for "So Far Gone" is scheduled to be released soon.
Because of the pandemic, Davis has done quite a few livestream shows.
In addition to his own music, he continues to work with other artists.
“I have had so many collaborations throughout this quarantine time,” Davis said. “I actually was able to work on hundreds and hundreds of songs with people from around the world. It was actually a productive time for me. I’m able to actually choose what I want to do right now.”
Zithobile Nxumalo, the creative/artistic director of Zodwa Dance Company, said she loves the fact that Davis’s artistry has become full circle.
“He has been a catalyst to light my own flame in terms of my own artistry, so I’m excited about everything that he’s done already, and I’m most excited about what he and I will be able to do together in the future,” said Nxumalo, who is also Davis’s sister-in-law, the host of Ukuvusa podcast and the co-founder of We the People International, a nonprofit based in Greensboro.
“He’s got that finger on the pulse of what the human experience is, and he knows how to bring musicality to that raw, human experience. You need that as an artist.”
Eric Delia, a producer and musician in Raleigh, is collaborating with Davis on several tracks for an EP in which they are co-songwriters and Davis is the vocalist.
“R&B and soul those are kind of the main genres I think we are collecting here and a little bit of funkiness in there ... We’re also trying to tell some stories especially through Shermar’s lyrics,” Delia, who uses the stage name, Metkovic, said.
He described Davis’s sound as meaningful.
“It’s potent to me in a storytelling kind of sense,” Delia said. “I think he has this ability to tell a tale and tell it well and really fill it out. For me, at least, I can feel the seriousness in his voice through some of these tracks.”