English teacher puts down book, picks up mic as recording artist Elise Amara

Outside of the classroom, English teacher Shayna Fuller has a somewhat different career as recording artist Elise Amara. Her EP is available on all streaming services but her music can be linked from eliseamara.com.

Outside of the classroom, English teacher Shayna Fuller has a somewhat different career as recording artist Elise Amara. Her EP is available on all streaming services but her music can be linked from eliseamara.com.

Though students tend to think teachers are one dimensional and don’t have lives outside their classrooms, English teacher Shayna Fuller is here to prove them wrong. As a singer, songwriter and musician, Fuller has a vibrant life outside of school. The Colt visited with Fuller to find out more about her second career as recording artist Elise Amara.


TC: First off, how do your students react when they find out you are a singer? 

SF: They are a bit stunned. I think it’s because as an artist I look one way and as a teacher I look another way.

Elise Amara


TC: You perform under the name Elise Amara which helps keep your teacher life separate, how did you come up with your stage name? 

SF: Elise is my middle name and Amara means gift from God in an African tribal language. I wanted to be able to show people that you can use a gift to spread positivity in this world.


TC: What made you want to take singing serious? 

SF: I have always been a writer since I was a kid and wanted to take music seriously when I started performing my original music in the Downtown Dallas area when I was about 18 years old and old enough to start making my own decisions. 


TC: Do you play any instruments?

SF: I play piano, bass guitar, acoustic guitars and drums.


TC: Did you go to college for music?

SF:  I did not go to school for music but I was formally trained in classical piano from ages 6 -12 with a private teacher. Once I turned 13, I started learning more informally from other musicians who had decades of experience.


TC: Since you’re an English teacher and musician, how are they similar to one another? 

SF: Playing music requires a skill of understanding melody and harmony on a basic level and being able to build on it. I feel that music and writing are related because it is my job as a writer to paint a picture for the reader just like as an artist, it is my job to evoke feelings that connect to the listener. 


TC: Have you thought about becoming a music teacher one day? 

SF: I actually tried when I was a substitute teacher and it wasn’t for me. I love music but I think there is a level of passion and patience for teaching it that I do not quite have yet. 


TC: How has music changed your life?

SF: Music is and has always been a source of therapy for me. I have experienced so much trauma in my life. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope but luckily I had music as my safe space. Much of the music I write that I don’t necessarily perform for others is sad and depressing. It is just a channel for me to express myself and use music as a way to vent. 


TC: They say music is a window to a person’s soul, how do you come up with your lyrics and melody? 

SF: If I can remember a line or a melody that I wrote two days ago, that means I need to make it a song. Sometimes people send me music with no lyrics and I write to it based on what feelings I get from the music. Sometimes I sit at my piano and just think about the words and what my message is to the listener and start there. I don’t really have one set way that I write a song. 


TC: What types of genres do you prefer and what do you have in mind for future music? 

SF: I am currently working on a pop album and another Neo soul EP. Soul and Blues are at the core of my culture, so that’s always inside of me. When I dive into other genres, I still try to remain true to who I am as an artist by putting a little “soul” in it. 


TC: Has your music ever been played on the radio? If so, how did you feel when you heard it? 

SF: I have had small radio stations play my music. It feels good to get some exposure on the air waves every now and again.


TC: If you could sign a record deal would you?

SF: In today’s world, I am not sure how a record deal will help me considering that people aren’t buying albums any more but streaming everything, but I would definitely consider it, if the long term looked promising.


TC: Where can people find your music?

SF: I am on all streaming services but my music can be linked from www.eliseamara.com