Shannon, growing up in Saint Thomas, Pennsylvania, what music did your family listen to?
Growing up, we listened to a range of different genres and artists. When I was very young, we had a “Disney’s Hits” cassette tape that we would listen to on our way to the family cabin. The songs I remember the most are, “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Hercules and ‘If I Can’t Love Her” from the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast (which is still one of my favorite songs today). I also remember my dad and I would listen to The Rolling Stones all the time, he’s the reason why they’re one of my favorite bands. We did listen to some country, but as we got older, we got into it more and more.
Are your siblings also musically inclined?
I’d have to say that both of my older sisters can carry a tune, they are in no means tone deaf, however they are both in the medical field. I was the oddball of the family who chose music.
Talent shows when you were younger, would you consider trying out now for a reality singing competition like The Voice? Which judge would you choose to mentor you (John Legend, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson) and why?
Fun fact, when I was 17 I did try out for The Voice but I didn’t make it far at all. I think that a lot of those talent shows, can be a bit bias and I feel like every year they are looking for specific “looks” and “personalities”. If I had to choose a judge, I’d probably choose Blake Shelton, because he sings country, which is what I consider myself and I think our personalities would match up well. We are both outgoing and love to joke around!
How has being a classically trained soprano helped you through the production of your songs?
I love this question, I firmly believe that every singer should take classical lessons at some point in their life. I have been taking lessons for about 10 years now, and it has done WONDERS for my voice. I have learned how to properly use my voice so I do not damage it when I am singing more commercial styles. In the music industry, it is extremely common for vocalists to literally blow their voices out, simply because they are not using their voice correctly. It’s by no means their fault at all, they just haven’t been taught. The “voice” is a muscle, and just like any other muscle, you need to strengthen it and you can’t just go “all in”. For example, if someone is just starting to lift weights, that person can’t go into the gym and bench 200lbs, they’d definitely hurt themselves. It’s the same concept when it comes to the voice. You need to strengthen and build your stamina. With this training, I know what I can and can’t sing properly, which definitely helps with it comes to my writing styles because I know my range, I know when I should switch into my head voice, and where to place my head/chest voice in one of my songs to make them unique.
What instruments do you want to learn to play?
I’d LOVE to learn to play the cello. I think it is one of the most beautiful instruments on this earth, I love the “emotional” sound it brings to pieces. I also really dig the bagpipes, I think they’d be fun to play, looks like an interesting challenge to me.
What did you perform at your Indiana University of Pennsylvania senior recital?
My recital was basically split into two separate halves. The first half was Opera Arias/Art Songs and the second half I dedicated to musical theatre. We were required to sing 3 Italian songs, 3 German, and 3 French (some of the rules could be bent, depending on how long the piece is, difficulty, etc) but that is the standard. An example of an Itialian Aria I did was, “Tutte le feste al tempio” from Verdi’s Rigoletto (probably my favorite piece from that first half). It was challenging, emotional, and I had a blast performing it. The German songs, were all Schubert (I literally love that man, he’s an amazing composer) and for the French set, they were art songs. The second half included songs from, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Last Five Years, Wicked, and Little Women.
For someone interested in majoring in vocal performance what would you suggest he/she do to prepare for college?
TAKE LESSONS!! Make the 24 Italian Aria book your best friend (for college auditions they’ll most likely ask you to sing an aria from that book….), get as much experience as you can performing whether it be community theatre, high school plays/musicals, honestly whatever! Be open to learning different styles, languages, and even the songs you might not like, it’ll all make you a better singer/performer in the end. Be confident in yourself and your voice!
Your new single “Rearview” reflects on a breakup — how difficult is it to perform personal lyrics?
When I first wrote this song, it did take a while for me to be able to make it all the way through without getting over emotional. Now when I perform it, I look forward to it because I’m telling a story, and I think it’s a story that a lot of people can relate to. If I get emotional during a performance, hopefully it will make the audience connect with me even more!
What message do you hope your fans take away from your new song?
The first message I want them to take away, is that it does get better and you will get over it. At first, it’s going to hurt like hell and you will playback all those memories in your head over and over, ask yourself why you weren’t good enough, etc. Here’s the thing, you ARE good enough, more than enough. That just wasn’t your person, you weren’t for them, and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel everything, and it’s okay to move on with your life, it’s okay to leave an old life behind so you can move on.
What’s a typical day in your life as an artist?
A typical day in the life of Shan (all my friends call me that haha), I nanny for a wonderful family, so of course I work during the day and I play shows at night. On my “not so busy days”, I try to spend at least an hour or two contacting different people about venues I can play at, collaborating with other writers, publishers, and catching up with my social media and fan base. I try to write for 2 hours a day, even if that is making little lyrics on my phone or writing down ideas, and of course I practice EVERY DAY.
Playing writers rounds — which one has been your favorite to date? What can fans expect when they attend these?
I recently did a round at a place called the Yee Haw Brewery downtown and it was a blast! It felt like a bunch of good friends getting together and sharing their life experiences. Keep in mind that almost none of us knew each other, but it felt like we did. At these rounds, fans can expect to hear some new music from me that hasn’t been released yet, and sometimes haven’t even recorded. It’s basically a sneak peak of what’s to come and they also can hear other awesome artists as well!
Nashville — posing by the wings mural — what other sites in town would you recommend visitors add to their must see list?
The Country Music Hall of Fame, it has so many cool little exhibits and it tells the history of country music in a timeline, which I think is super cool. They also will have special exhibits of different artists, I think Kacey Musgraves has one right now. Also make sure to check out ALL THE FOOD. There are so many awesome food places, if you want authentic Mexican, I recommend Rosepepper in East, it’s amazing.
Playing cover songs like “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift-how do you choose songs to cover in a show?
When I choose songs to play, I usually think about what the crowd will enjoy most and what’s popular right now! For example, I love to get the crowd involved and to have them singing with me. I play “Whiskey Glasses” by Morgan Wallen a lot and people love it! When it comes to more personable songs, (like All Too Well), I usually play songs that mean something to me and that I can connect with. It makes me a better performer and more intriguing to watch when I’m emotionally engaged. For example, whenever I play All Too Well, I’m always super emotional because it brings back a lot of feelings and difficult memories.
Which musician(s) would you like to collaborate with?
If I had to choose two musicians, I’d definitely pick Kacey Musgraves and Mick Jagger (I know, super different genres). I love both of their styles and the way they write. Along with this, they pushed the boundaries of the genre they were writing for and that’s what I try to do as well!
What are your plans for 2020?
My vision for 2020 is to of course release more music and hopefully land a publishing deal. I have a few smaller companies looking at my stuff which is super exciting! It makes me feel like I’m doing something right and that people are engaged with my songs/writing. I have a lot of work ahead of me still, but I’m hopeful of the future and I believe in myself and my music. Right now, it’s all about people believing in it too!