As the Former Miss. Virgina and Now Songstress, Meghan Shanley Has A Lot to Say about The Music Biz!
Posted On 20 Aug 2014
Tag: Adele, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Bruno Mars, Charlie Chaplin, CHICAGO, Dan Akroyd, Diana Ross, Earth Wind & Fire, Ella Fitzgerald, Fine Living Network, Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, Here, James Morrison, John Legend, John Mayer, Martina McBride, Marvin Gaye, Meghan Shanley, Michael Buble, Miss America, Miss. Virginia, Nat King Cole, Patsy Cline, Paula Deen, Ready For Love, Ryman Auditorium, Sara Bareilles, Smile, Stevie Wonder, The Genuine Article, Trisha Yearwood, Wildforse Saloon
After graduating from college, Meghan Shanley won the title of Miss Virginia. Meghan’s reign as Miss Virginia awakened her love for music and touring. Her pursuit of a career in music led her to Nashville where she landed acts on prestigious stages including the Ryman Auditorium and the Wildhorse Saloon.
She has also been featured on Fine Living Network’s The Genuine Article and performed at the wedding reception of Paula Deen. The original song she performed, “Here,” has become a hit with brides nationwide.
Her debut album, Ready for Love, is now available, blending the influence of beloved standards with a delightful taste of jazz and soul. The result is a unique collection of original tunes that harken back to a classic era. The album also includes a warm cover of the sincere “Smile” which was composed by Charlie Chaplin and has been recorded previously by Diana Ross and Nat King Cole.
“I have always loved the music of the great stylists of days gone by, and the new singers who revitalize that classic style of soul, pop and cabaret,” Shanley says. “I am so excited to share this collection.”
Keep reading to learn more about Meghan!
Can you offer a brief journey of your musical career thus far from your perspective?
The journey of my music career is a little different than what you usually hear from artists. I didn’t discover that I could sing until I was 17 years old. I have always loved music and knew I had a deep connection with it, but I honestly never attempted performing until I needed a talent to compete in a Miss America preliminary pageant.
Once I felt the satisfaction of delivering a song with emotion and connecting with an audience, well, there was no turning back! Coming to Nashville, I naturally tried my hand at Country, but I kept gravitating toward music more like the classic singers and stylists. I really began to find my sound in that classic flavor.
What Got You Interested in music? When was the first moment that you realized that you wanted to be a performer?
When I sang for the first time in front of my mother, she was shocked and said “Where have you been hiding THAT?” The more I sang, the more I realized that there was nothing else that brought me the joy and passion that music did. It just simply was not an option for me to NOT pursue it as my career. I knew that God had given me the ability for some reason, and I wanted to explore it.
You were the winner of the Miss Virginia title. How did that experience prepare you for your music career and how have you grown as a performer as a result of this experience?
The experience of winning Miss Virginia was such a great stepping stone for my music career. It gave me the opportunity to perform in front of so many different groups of people and at so many different events. As a performer, you can’t always be sure what the environment will be like where you are performing, especially while you are getting your career off the ground. So having the experiences that I had as Miss Virginia helped me to be ready for anything! As with anything, the more you do something, the more comfortable you get at it. So being Miss Virginia gave me so many great chances to hone my craft.
What was the inspiration for your new single and the title track to your album “Ready For Love”? Is there anything in particular that you’d like the listener to take away from your new music?
There are so many musical influences of mine that went into the making of this album. I have always loved music that is heavy with horn arrangements like Earth, Wind & Fire, and Chicago. “Ready For Love” takes after that genre and is one of those songs that just gets in your head and parks itself there! It’s a fun, sassy song that makes you want to dance around the house while no one is looking! I want people to enjoy listening to this music as much as I enjoyed making it! I love soulful music that you can groove to.
How do you feel about having your song “Here” become so beloved by brides everywhere?
It means SOOO much to me that so many people have connected with “Here” and have wanted it to be a part of their special day. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and the fact that people have wanted my music to be a part of it is incredibly humbling and honoring!
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making? Who are some of today’s artists who inspire you?
Some of my favorite artists today are Sara Bareilles, Adele, Michael Buble, James Morrison, John Mayer, Bruno Mars, and John Legend.
Their music is incredibly soul stirring and genuine whether it’s through the lyrics they write, or the way in which they present the melody.
Sara Bareilles is one of those writers who finds ways to say things that are in your mind and what you’re thinking. I didn’t know anyone else felt that way too!” Such a brilliant writer!
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I have a mighty long list of influences because my appreciation for music has always been very broad and multi genre. Some of the biggies for me are: Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Michael McDonald, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Earth Wind & Fire.
When I first moved to Nashville of course I had my hand in the country music cookie jar so from that I came away with influences like Patsy Cline (of course!) Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood.
There are so many pieces or paper around my house, car, purses, etc with one or two lines written out. That it cracks me up! Inspiration comes from every angle if you are open enough to recognize it. Some of those lines become a part of a song and others were just moments that hit me right then and there, but never quite fit into a song. But you never know when something will strike, so the memos part of my iPhone is my best friend
How are you using social media to connect with your fans? Are there any new social media sites or strategies that you’ve found to be effective?
I love the ability to connect with fans on a personal level. I want people to know the Meghan that all my friends and family know. I’ve always loved the connection you get with the audience that only comes from a live performance. But social media gives you a chance to continue that relationship with your fans on more of a regular basis and not just during performances.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with the band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
I got to do a show with Dan Akroyd once and my sister and I have always loved his movies. So I told him she was a big fan and asked if he’d say hi to her on the phone. Well he proceeded to have a 10 minute conversation with her in the other room. My sister was blown away! It was awesome!! There was also the time that I bent down to grab a sip of water and my pants split clear up the seam in the back. THANK GOD it was only during rehearsal!!!!
For me it’s always been important to remember where this ability came from and to keep that in the center of my mind. As I said before, God gave me this ability and I want to make sure that I am always using it in the way that He would want, and in a way that positively affects people. Music is such a powerful force of nature and can influence people so strongly. It’s truly a gift that we have, and it needs to be respected as such.
What do you do in your spare time?
I really enjoy my alone time. As a performer you have to be “On” so much of the time that I really enjoy having days to myself where I can just do things around the house and not put a stitch of makeup on! I think it’s important to allow yourself some down time to recharge. Once I’m recharged though I love traveling. I just got to cross the #1 destination off the bucket list which was Italy! I really enjoy Interior Design and home decor stuff too, so I could lock myself away for a week with Netflix and Pinterest and be perfectly happy!!
I have an incredible family who has always been my rock. We are so supportive of each other in everything we pursue. They have always been there to keep me grounded and remember who I am and where I came from. And my sisters have always been reliable for a good smack on the head if I get too big for my britches!
Any pre-performance rituals?
Before every show I turn counter clockwise 5 times and then hop on one leg for a solid minute. TOTALLY kidding… No nothing in particular that I do….I tend to get really quiet right before a show as I’m just kind of thinking through everything. And if I’m nervous, I yawn a lot. Really weird, I know!
Favorite city to visit?
Anywhere in Tuscany!!!!
If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be?
I would LOVE to sing with Michael Buble!!!! He’s just as sarcastic and comical as I am so I think we could have a blast onstage, too!
I would love to work with Herbie Hancock. That guy is a genius!!!!!!
Of course I may go into cardiac failure if I ever had the chance to sing with Stevie Wonder too
Do you have any advice for upcoming musicians?
KEEP AT IT!!!!! If God wants you somewhere, He’ll put you there. No matter what the record execs say or the music experts, don’t limit His abilities through you. Make sure you do music for you and not for anyone else’s satisfaction, that way no one can ever take it away from you!