I feel successful because I love what I do

Shams Ahmed, Arranger, Vocal Producer, Music Producer & Director, Citizen Queen and Acapop! – Los Angeles, California

Feature | 05 April 2022
Shams Ahmed is a Los Angeles-based music and vocal producer who has reinvented himself by perusing his passion. After a successful career in finance Shams decided to start a career in entertainment and music. ILO Photos/ John Isaac
“One thing I’ve learned is that you can really invent and reinvent yourself,” declares Shams Ahmed who himself is a living testament of this. “If you want, you really can do whatever you want to do,” he says smiling as he leans against the piano in his studio.

Originally from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and born to parents from Bangladesh, Ahmed is an arranger, vocal producer, music producer and director based out of Los Angeles, California, who prior to making the switch to music, had been working in the finance and banking industry in Boston.

“I attended Northeastern University where I studied finance and then I went on to work in finance in Boston for a number of years before pivoting careers completely and moving out west and doing the music producer thing. Now I basically work to bring vocal and music projects to life- that’s kind of my big goal at the moment.”

Although he chose to study finance in school and pursue it professionally, Shams admits that he never really had a passion for it. His real passion was always in music and entertainment.
Growing up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Shams was an active member of the choir, acapella groups, various bands and in musical theatre. These early experiences nurtured his love of music and musical production. Today, he produces the female pop/R&B group Citizen Queen. ILO Photos/ John Isaac
Shams Ahmed is a Los Angeles-based music and vocal producer who has reinvented himself by perusing his passion. After a successful career in finance Shams decided to start a career in entertainment and music.
“When I first decided to go into finance it was because I saw examples of people in my own family who were in that profession. They seemed successful to me,” he reveals. “I didn’t have a passion for it at all but it seemed like a path that I should look into at the time.”

“But I always knew that I was going to eventually find myself in entertainment or music, and I kept my hands in musical projects, while I was in finance,” he says raising his eyebrows and shrugging his shoulders.

“It’s what drives me, motivates me and I love creating music, I love creating the visual elements that go with music videos and I love the whole world of expression through music and how it affects the masses,” Ahmed emphasizes with palpable fervour in his voice, and excitement visible in his eyes.

When things started to kick off in his music endeavours, Shams and his partners decided he needed to move to LA. He resigned and within two and a half months he had wrapped up ten years of his life in Boston and was in LA, a move that he says was both exciting and scary.

After living in Boston for 10 years, Shams resigned from his job and relocated to Los Angeles to focus on his work in music. While there are challenges, like any other profession, he says he feels successful because he loves what he is doing.ILO Photos/ John Isaac
Growing up he was involved in various choirs, acapella groups, bands and musical theatre all of which he attributes to “making him a musical person.” “I was like a semi-professional arranger,” he recalls.

His affinity and experience in acapella music is evident in his current work, as he and his partners have launched Citizen Queen- a female pop/ R&B vocal group who have an impressive following and are signed to RCA Records, as well as Acapop! a kids acapella brand the group has also launched.

The idea to create a girl group, Shams explains relates to his upbringing. “I grew up in the 90’s and early aughts and a big part of my music literacy and exposure has been boy bands and girl groups like the Spice Girls,” he giggles. “I remember listening to them all the time and blasting their music. They were definitely a big part of my childhood, so we thought it would be amazing to bring back that vintage nostalgia throwback feel to our music.”

In discussing some of the challenges he experiences in his work, Shams cites a host of challenges from technical, musical and interpersonal ones to also being a minority in the industry which he says can be both a challenge and an advantage, offering him the ability to have a different type of perspective from others.

When asked about his goal and ambitions, Ahmed confidently replies, “In 10 years I would ideally be a big time music mogul, maybe have a Grammy or two and just enjoy the fruits of my labour. I’m building a bunch of projects that will hopefully flourish in the next 1, 5, 10, and 50 years.”

And after reinventing himself, does Shams feel himself a success? “Yes, I do feel successful. I do because I love what I do,” he says with a big grin. An unmistakable confirmation that he does indeed love what he does.