Dorchester resident Shamara Rhodes — better known as DJ WhySham — is a musical and societal force. A cutting-edge DJ and producer who champions local and regional musical artists, Rhodes is also an activist who combines music and social justice by working to provide necessary resources for Boston’s disenfranchised communities (and has received numerous community awards in recognition of her efforts). The only female nominated in the Producer of the Year category at the 2021 New England Music Awards (on Oct. 17), Rhodes, 30, is also a two-time nominee for the Boston Music Awards DJ of the Year. Host of her own radio show (1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays) on Spark FM Online and the official DJ for Brandie Blaze and Cakeswagg, Rhodes is busy planning (in conjunction with Once Somerville) the Finally Live Reloaded! festival — featuring DJ Chubby Chub — set for Sept. 10 in Somerville. “I’m looking forward to celebrating the artists’ art that they have been working so hard on but, unfortunately, due to the pandemic, haven’t been able to perform to their full live capacity,” said the Dorchester native. “I hope everyone comes out and supports local artists. It’s going to be a great experience.” We caught up with Rhodes to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? Aruba, only because that was the last place I visited before the pandemic. I went to Aruba for the Soul Fest and it was amazing, BIPOC [Black and Indigenous People of Color] from all parts of the world came to celebrate music, history, and celebration of life. I got to go out of the country the first time with a group of friends and we made everlasting memories.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? A good ol’ Twisted Bob Marley is amazing for the 21-plus crowd, and a nice orange juice mixed with cranberry juice for those under 18. I also love a good rice, beans, and plantains plate no matter where I am. Each culture has its own spin to it; just make sure it’s nice and hot for me.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I would love to travel to Italy, which was actually a place always on my grandmother’s bucket list before she passed away in 2007. The only reason why I haven’t gone yet is due to the cost, so I need to save! Italy also has beautiful architecture that I saw in photos growing up. And of course the food — can’t forget the food!
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My knapsack. This is your kit for everything — including a mini first-aid kit — because you never know what may happen. This knapsack is basically your mini survival kit with/without electricity.
Aisle or window? Aisle. Although I am not that tall, I like to stretch out and I do not like feeling stuck in between people. Plus, I like to be able to get up and use the bathroom when I want without bothering anyone.
Favorite childhood travel memory? My grandmother taking me to family reunions. She would save, save, save, and take off that time to make sure it was a good time. My favorite was Virginia Beach. … Family from everywhere would meet there because it was a central location. I remember walking out of the hotel and being right on the beach.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Collecting shot glasses. I am a shot glass fanatic! We have to stop and grab one everywhere I go — and not at the airport … unless I run out of time.
Best travel tip? Always, always at least make one copy of your ID. Also, learn how to use or say certain phrases. ... You never want to disrespect someone’s culture.