An Interview With The Nashville Blues Artist, TAMMIE SHANNON!
Posted On 15 Feb 2018
Born with music in her soul and the gift of sharing it through song, Nashville blues artist Tammie Shannon has come full circle through being a young touring artist, wife, mom, business owner and now back to a full-time recording and performing musician. After teaming up with Grammy-nominated producer Kent Wells, Shannon shares the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of her life through her new blues album, All of Me. An 11-song testament to her tenacity and ability to bounce back, All of Me is set to release in early 2018.
As with all blues artists, Shannon’s lifetime of musical influences and experiences shaped her music. Growing up in northeast Arkansas just outside of Memphis, Shannon grew up in a musical home where her family and friends would regularly gather to sing and enjoy music together. From classical to blues, christian, country and R&B, this musical stew had a profound effect on the shy five-year old Tammie. She started singing at a young age in her church and later joined a local band that toured as the opener for R&B/soul legend, Percy Sledge, while accompanied by her mother. Life took a downward turn after her mother passed away and her difficult marriage ended, compelling her to focus on raising her three daughters and building her life and retirement business. In 2013, an accident left Shannon with a paralyzed right vocal cord, which she believed would end her singing career forever. After a year of rehab, determination and strong encouragement from her daughter, Coco, to pursue her own dreams, Shannon regained the use of her voice and decided to put her vocal talents and music back in the center of her life. Today, Shannon has turned back to her music full-time and is ready to share it through her debut album, All of Me.
Heavily influenced by Aretha Franklin’s powerful pipes, Bonnie Raitt’s blues and Etta James’ soul, Tammie Shannon’s new album tells her story of survival and empowerment. Check out the first single off the album “I Got Rhythm,” and be sure to look out for All of Me, out in early 2018.
Connect With Tammie Shannon Here:
Learn more about Tammie Shannon in the following All Access interview with her here-
Happy New Year! Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
Happy New year to you! Thank you, I’m excited to be here. I’m at home in Nashville.
Overall, how do you think 2017 was for you and your career? What are you most excited about for this year? Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Care to share them with us.
2017 was an exciting year for me! I had successes in different fields of entertainment. I got to write some great songs that other artists are looking to cut. I wrote 20 songs for this album and pulled the top 11 that would allow listeners to get to know me best. And I did some acting which I love to do.
I’m excited about a few things. I will get to meet more of my fans face-to-face through touring and releasing my album. I feel like 2018 is the year of unprecedented opportunity that I’m excited to embrace.
I don’t really set New Year’s resolutions. I’ve found what works best for me is setting monthly and quarterly goals. Once I’ve done something for 30 days, it becomes a part of my regular routine.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
Yes. We always had musicians over our house playing and singing. My mom had a great voice and sang at church. So, music has always been a huge part of my life.
I began singing in church at the age of 5. The first time I sang outside of church was when i was 8 years old. On Saturdays, my dad would take me down to where his friends were rehearsing their band, usually at the club that they would be playing at later that night. The place was normally empty except for the staff. So, my dad would place me on the bar with a mic in my hand. They were a country band and the first song I remember singing was D.I.V.O.R.C.E. Isn’t that hilarious? At age 11, I learned to play bass guitar. It was the first time I actually saw Elvis perform.
Watching his leg shake and his lip quiver, I just remember wanting to be like him. I found myself drawn to the stand up bass, the rhythmic runs and the smile on his face. At age 16 between my junior and senior year of high school, I got a job at Baldwin piano, tuning display pianos and teaching myself how to play piano using sound variations and combinations. At age 19 , I became our churches’ full time piano player and musical director for the next 12 years. I began opening for Percy Sledge while I was a musical director.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your home has affected you and your music today?
There are really two parts to that. Growing up in Northeast Arkansas and being raised Pentecostal has definitely influenced me in music and in life. For those of you who don’t know how growing up in Arkansas could influence me, I grew up on a 12 acre farm with no television. We grew our own vegetables and fruits, we had pigs, chickens, horses and 2- 1 acre catfish ponds. When we had free time, we entertained ourselves by playing vinyl records, usually Frank, Sandra or Elvis Presley, my mom’s favorites. If you’ve never attended a Pentecostal Church service, I will tell you that southern gospel music is rhythmic and soulful. When you leave the building, you know you’ve been to church because you felt something. I loved the music but wasn’t allowed to wear pants or cut my hair until the age of 10.
First and foremost, I never want to live on a farm again! When I think about growing up in a small southern town, I think about how nice it was that everybody knew one another or at least it felt like we did. That is the kind of feeling I want people to have about my music. It’s real, it’s authentic and it’s me.
Let’s talk about your debut single “I Got Rhythm.” What was the inspiration for this track? How do you think it prepares listeners for your upcoming album, “All Of Me”? How did you go about choosing this song to release first? How different or similar is it to the rest of this collection?
You know the feelings you have when you’re really excited about something, you’re so excited that you just feel like you’re going to explode? My inspiration for this debut track was to describe music itself. We hear it, we feel it and we’ve just got to move.
I’m hoping it prepares them for an album of inspiration, lots of attitude, fun, sensuality and emotion.
We wanted it to be like a first date, we wanted it to be a positive easy listen.
I really wanted to debut a song that was expressive of how it feels to be writing, performing and sharing my music.
Just as “I Got Rhythm” tells its own story, so does every song on the album. This album is a musically diverse, upbeat collection of songs, everywhere from classic blues to a combination of Chicago, St. Louis and Memphis styles mixed with a R&B vibe and one swing style song.
What was it like putting this album together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Were there any unexpected challenges?
Anytime I start a project, I always want to consider what I want to accomplish. I see this album as the foundation to build a relationship with each listener. I knew I couldn’t expect to be accepted without willing to be vulnerable, honest and open. I selected songs for this album so the listener will get an idea of who I am as an artist stylistically, while getting to know the real person behind the music as well.
There were no real surprises in the process but I was surprised when my producer told me who would be playing on this album. Guys like Reese Wynans, who toured with people like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Delbert McClinton and Buddy Guy. He laid down some killer piano on this album. Nick Buda, who’s Taylor Swift’s drummer. He played drums on this album. Rob McNelley, CMA guitarist of the year, played several guitars on this album along with Steve Mackey, a bad ass bassist-who’s known for writing songs for Florence and the Machine’s, played bass on this album. These artists along with the collaboration with my Grammy Nominated Producer, Kent Wells, made this album what it is. I’m very proud of the album we’ve put together.
With everything that you have been through physically, how are your vocal chords today? How do you think you were able to fight through the rehab and get them better after your accident?
My voice is stronger than ever and I have no residual effects from the paralyzed vocal cord.
When I think back to the whole incident, I feel like God was giving me a wake up call to get back to my music. I felt like, if I didn’t use my voice, I would actually lose it and that’s what made me really fight through it. I told God, if he would heal me and give me back my voice, I would use it. Sometimes we fight against what we know we’re supposed to be doing and then we miraculously get a second chance.
Where can people see you perform live next? Do you have any tour dates scheduled for 2018?
I will be playing at South, 1524 Demonbreun Street, Nashville on February 23rd from 7-10pm. I play at Pro Blues Jam located at 110 28th avenue North, nashville from 8-10pm. In addition to the places I’m playing here in Nashville, we are working on 2018-2019 tour dates and be sharing those on my website, tammieshannonmusic.com as they are finalized. We have a great team and are looking to add to it. We’re looking for a great booking and tour manager. So, if you are one or know someone, please contact us at email@example.com.
Where do you find that you are at your happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording music, writing songs or elsewhere?
That’s a tough question to answer. I love the entire process. I write alone so I really like the collaboration process that happens in the studio with the band but I’d have to say I’m happiest on stage because I get to be face to face with my fans and connect with new ones.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that your new music is going to reflect these difficult times?
Being a musician is like getting to be a superhero. We are empowered by the ability to write about things that can make a real difference. The joy comes when we get to see the positive impacts we have on others.
We’re living in a time where women are finally speaking out about sexual assault and abuse of power. I can certainly relate, I’ve been a victim myself. My music reflects this change we’re seeing by standing up and speaking out about my own extremely personal experiences.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, BB King and Etta James. I would love to work with Bonnie Raitt, Chris Stapleton, Keb Mo and DeAngelo.
What do you hope your fans take away from your music? Do you find that a lot of your music has a greater meaning behind it?
My hope is that it will resonate with and inspire those who listen to it.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about yourself or your music with our readers?
I will spend a lot of time on social media getting to know my fans and allow my fans to get to know about me. So if you’re a fan please reach out. If you’re not a fan yet, give me a chance. You won’t be bored.