Shirley Setia

Shirley Setia performing live

Shirley Setia is a 22-year-old Indo-Kiwi singer-performer from Auckland, New Zealand. She makes cover songs which can be found on her YouTube channel. The Cancerian is not only a famous singer, but also a former RJ on Radio Tarana with her show Showtime with Shirley. At a relatively young age Shirley has made a name for herself in a matter of a few years and is today a much-loved performer. Last year Shirley won two music competitions: Big Golden Voice Award show in the Big Digital Sensation category and Outlook Social Media awards.

VERUS FERREIRA met with the petite singer in Mumbai where she was performing at this year’s YouTube Fanfest.

You have a large following on social media; how did you achieve this great feat?
Thank you so much. I have over 2.5 million followers on Facebook now, which is truly overwhelming. It has been a series of things which led to this. I feel I’m honest with my followers; I’m also very interactive with them on social media, be it taking their suggestions, speaking with them live, or engaging with them in various posts. Since I’ve been the person handling my social media, it allows me to better understand my audience.

What has been the selling point for your music?
I’ve always tried to make music with the purest of feelings and emotions. I feel that it’s the emotions that connect with every soul, and that could possibly very well be the reason.

How has the journey been from the time you took part in a T-Series contest to your success today?
So it was in April 2013, when T-Series ran a competition for which I recorded a cover of the Hindi song Tum Hi Ho from my parents’ house in Dannemora, East Auckland. I not only won the competition from amongst tens of thousands from around the world, but in turn I also gathered a lot of views for all my YouTube uploads. It has been challenging for sure. I never thought of pursuing my passion as a full-time professional back then. I was naive, merely finishing high school. But taking that spontaneous decision is what led me to then keep pushing my limits. My parents saw my eagerness and allowed me to take the leap of faith to move to Mumbai and pursue my dreams.

You recorded the video wearing pajamas?
Ha, ha! Yes, while recording the song I was wearing pajamas. The video was uploaded on 19 April 2013 and after the success of the video I was labelled “The Pyjama Popstar” by The NZ Herald News.

Have you done any music training? Do you play any musical instruments?
I am not yet formally trained, but I am surely considering vocal coaching lessons to help me understand the techniques behind singing. I sometimes play a ukulele, but I’m definitely nowhere close to being at the pro level.

We heard that you are planning to make your base in Mumbai?
Yes, in fact, it’s been a year since I made the move, and I’m absolutely loving it.

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Verus Ferreira is a music journalist for over three decades. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book and the founder of

Verus Ferreira

Verus Ferreira is a music journalist for over three decades. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book and the founder of