Adrienne Shamszad is a singer-songwriter from the SF Bay Area who writes revolutionary anthems, prayerful power ballads, soul-stirring love songs, the blues, lullabies, and sing-alongs. She plays guitar, piano, and setar to accompany her strong and soulful voice. Adrienne is a bold performer who brings her audiences together with her humor, vulnerability, and a healing touch.

While Adrienne’s influences as an instrumentalist and songwriter are rooted in folk, rock, and R&B, she also draws her inspiration from the classical poetry and vocal styles of the Iranian musical traditions. Adrienne’s music has become a bridge between these two dimensions of her own heritage, steering her into the outer reaches of the singer-songwriter genre, and far beyond; American Roots and Mystic Soul.

In 2016, Adrienne connected with internationally acclaimed Iranian vocalist and educator Mahsa Vahdat, through a collaborative performance project with the celebrated Bay Area group KITKA Women’s Vocal Ensemble. During that time, Adrienne began formal study in traditional Iranian singing and picked up a Persian Setar for the first time.

Roshi Littlelight Photography | Adrienne Shamszad

Adrienne is a multi dimensional artist with extensive training in western classical and jazz vocal technique, acting, musical theater, and music education. She is a two-time recipient of the Living Cultures grant through the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA). She has performed at the Berkeley Repertory Theater as an actress and a composer. She has toured and performed with SOVOSO, an A capella group consisting of members of Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra. She has released two full-length albums, an EP and multiple singles and has shared her original music around the world and throughout the U.S.She is a vocal coach, music teacher, and has supported many of her students in their recording projects as a co-writer and producer.

In 2023, Adrienne released her second full-length album, Wash It All Away. The nine song record is a musical odyssey dedicated to Love, surrender, and transformation. “Wash It All Away is a big, beautiful declaration of my love and respect for life, nature, the cosmos, and for the human struggle… and it also happens to be the story of my life.” The album was co-produced with Ram Dass Khalsa (Snatum Kaur, Jagjit Singh) and features a stellar Bay Area rhythm section - James Small on drums (Fantastic Negrito) and Daniel Fabricant on bass (Rupa and the April Fishes). String and horn arrangements from trumpetist and composer Arturo Solar (Bruno Mars, Shakira). Adrienne is currently developing a new musical based on the material and love story of “Wash It All Away.”

Roshi Littlelight Photography | Adrienne Shamszad

Artist Statement

I was 12 when I played a guitar for the first time. I took a lesson from a guy who taught me how to pluck jingle bells on one string and I was so deeply annoyed that THAT’S all he thought I was capable of that I didn’t go back. But from that annoyance grew an open curiosity and I asked my mom, who had brought her big ole Yamaha dreadnought (with the floral inlay pickguard) out of retirement for this one miss of a lesson, to show me some chords. She taught me two Blues tunes: Trouble in Mind in E, and St. James’ Infirmary in Em. I sang and played those songs obsessively for months and my whole life changed. Suddenly I became someone who played guitar and sang songs. A year later I started writing my own songs too, and thus began the beginning of the rest of my life.

Music has flowed through me since the very beginning of ME. It has been my constant companion, like the soul that inhabits my body, and the force of Love that breathes life into my very being, Music is my essential…everything. I feel that I become essential when I am making music happen.

Whatever dark corridor life leads me down, or how miserable it feels at the edge of another heartbreaking serotonin collapse in my brain, no matter what time it is, where I am, when my hands find the strings or the keys again, and my voice makes that familiar journey into the sonic realm of “the not yet written song,” I remember that what felt broken in me, will soon be made whole again.

I tell my students, (who, by the way, are all my perfect and beautiful life-giving soul mates), that Music is a river. It is constantly in flow, forever and eternally has, is, and will be moving in, though, and around us, always on its way from the source at the top of the mountain where the information drops down back to the final destination which is the ocean of love.

When you love a song, that’s the music CHOOSING you! Music, this ancient force of love and life, has told you that it WANTS you to have communion with her nourishing waters.

The River of Music is such an amazing and accurate metaphor that we can play around with a lot. For example, as a teacher, I feel like a river boat captain! I’m there to guide my students, to share what I see and hear, but ultimately it’s you who will dive in and make your own relationship with these waters. As a songwriter, I feel like a brown bear out fishing for live salmon. Some moments are hard; the fish are slippery and the river is icy and rocky. Sometimes all I have to do is open my mouth and a juicy fat one flies right in. Only nature knows what’s in store. And songwriting really is like that - it is both time consuming and labor intensive and it’s also the easiest thing to do ever with the greatest reward. When I am performing, about to step on stage, I feel I am standing on the edge of a giant stone, looking down into the deep pools; I jump in, sometimes I dive, and am swept up by the powerful currents of singing for an audience, spinning and trusting, committed to a passionate dance with the river’s rhythm.

Then there are those times where it’s just me and my simple song, standing ankle deep in the warmth of a gentle day, alone in the woods, listening to the quiet babble of those gentle waters splashing against stones, letting my tears fall to become a part of everyone else’s songs. And when the work is done, and the drama of being a creator has subsided, I put on my two piece, get out my inner tube, blast some Led Zeppelin and splash around, floating on down to the next easy bank because sometimes the river is wide, and slow, and easy, and oh so perfect.

To paraphrase my mom, that same woman who taught me my first (useful) songs on the guitar: An artist's job is to walk up to the edge of the deep chasm within the self where all the darkness dwells, spend enough time there to get a good sense of it all, not fall in and then report back to the rest of us… This has been my truth. And since I’ve grown, I’ve added another piece to this task. It is also an artist’s job to venture out into what makes us beautiful, to go openly into the brilliant expanse of the great beyond, which is all love and all light, and which radiates within us all; to fall in and then come back to tell you the tale.

It is an honor and joy to live so close to the bone of my own life, and then somehow tell you all about it in a way that makes you feel it in your own bones… I am very fortunate indeed to live in the River, to be made pruney and sunburned by the water and the brightly lit sky, to see and feel so much… Let me tell you all about it over a couple of songs.


Roshi Littlelight Photography | Adrienne Shamszad

LIVE! In The Bay - KRON4 News

March 2024 - I had a blast yesterday sharing about my music and performing on Live! In The Bay. I talked about my musical journey, my teaching, and my upcoming show. You can watch the interview and the performance here.

LaidOPEN Podcast

November, 2023 - We dive deep into Adrienne's artistic process, how she channels her art, and the mind-body connection in her journey as an artist. But it's more than that; it's about growing up as an artist, finding paths by tapping into something higher, and letting that energy flow through her art.

We Rise Podcast

August 2023 - Adrienne's music is dedicated to our collective liberation - and is an intimate incantation of her heart. Equal parts silly and heartfelt, Cat and Adrienne get into it on this episode of the We Rise podcast, and share some new jams from Wash It All Away, both live (and spontaneous!) and from the album.

YG2D Podcast

August 24, 2023 - Join host Ned Buskirk in conversation with singer-songwriter Adrienne Shamszad, crying & laughing their way through a conversation about living a life worth dying for, music as a way forward in the darkness of mental health struggles & existential crises, & honoring our ancestral lineage in song.

In The News

September 6, 2021 - Adrienne was featured in the BerkeleySide talking about her performance at the Freight & Salvage. Click the button below to read, "Iranian-American songwriter Adrienne Shamszad is on a ‘spiritual quest’"


Live Performance

March 29, 2019 - Live performance and interview on Full Circle KPFA with Cat Petru. Adrienne performs original tracks played in English and new songs she’d learned in Farsi and speaks about how music ignites our spirits, tends our hearts, and reminds us where we come from.

In The News

August 1, 2019 - Adrienne was featured in the BerkeleySide talking about her roots. Click the button below to read, "Looking for roots with Adrienne Shamszad."

Adrienne Shamszad

Live Performance

July 28, 2017 - Live performance and interview on Full Circle KPFA. Adrienne shares songs from her EP Love You Without Fear, plays new songs live in the studio and discusses language, spirituality, and art as activism.