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By Yitzi Weiner, A “Positive” Influencer
Rising Music Star Shannon Denise Evans: “Our misfits are our future; We need them; They make the world interesting; They make the waves we need to counter stagnancy and above all, they remind us what it is to be truly free”
I had the pleasure to interview Shannon Denise Evans. Shannon’s creative career spans a number of different disciplines: artist, singer, songwriter/composer, librettist, playwright and novelist. At her core, however, she is simply, formidably — a storyteller. Everything Shannon creates has her blood running through it — and her spectra rock band, SAVARRE, is no exception. As the lead singer, lyricist, co-composer and frontwoman, Shannon’s raw and impassioned vocals carry the music’s anthemic lyrics. Her gift for storytelling is as apparent onstage as it is on page…And her voice — big, bold, expansive — is an uncontainable force. With a sound hinting at St. Vincent, Evanescence and early Muse — but with an unvarnished authenticity, musicianship, and lyricism all its own — SAVARRE creates music that will burrow into your bones. “Unbeautiful,” the first single from the SAVARRE’s upcoming EP, Blood, will be released January 14, 2020. Weaving a narrative throughout all of her artistic disciplines, Shannon’s gift for storytelling is the thread that runs through everything she does. Writing, in all its forms, is an alchemy medium for Shannon…and the magic is in creating work that is authentic and pure. Velvet Moon Chronicles, a new, four-volume novel series, will be Shannon’s next act of literary alchemy. The first book in the series, The Leveling, will be released on February 4, 2020. Set in both present-day Manhattan and a forested dreamscape, Velvet Moon Chronicles unspools a surrealist psychological, fantasy thriller in the vein of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Inception” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” It will leave its readers questioning where the edges of consciousness end — and reality truly begins. Delving into grief and loss, while also taking on the very fabric and structure of our supposed reality, Velvet Moon Chronicles hinges on the timeless existential questions: What is real? Is this life or afterlife? And, are we awake, or dreaming? Shannon’s first book, What the Mountains Know was published in 2018. Informed by her personal journey, What the Mountains Know brings readers to a quiet space beyond the world’s deadening noise — a space where they can awaken to their own power. More than a work of nonfiction, What the Mountains Know is an inspirational roadmap back to the soul. Shannon currently resides in New York City, where she is in constant pursuit of creative expression.
Thank you so much for joining us Shannon. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had been working on an album/demo that turned out to be a very difficult experience. I didn’t take care of myself emotionally, I didn’t ask for what I needed as an artist and writer. After the project concluded, I did a great deal of soul-searching and decided to do the whole thing all over again with my original music — and with a creative team that understood and supported my vision.
Can you pinpoint a defining or pivotal moment that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
The moment I started writing and composing my own music completely changed things for me as an artist. It opened up a new form of expression that I hadn’t been able to tap into up until that point.
Who inspires you the most? Why?
To me, inspiration is fluid in terms of what touches and moves me. I’m inspired daily by those around me, and the obstacles they’re able to overcome. Growing up, I really looked up to Dolly Parton. She was larger-than- life to me, and her positivity was radiant. It sounds cliché, I realize that, but her music and her spirit helped me through some pretty dark moments in my childhood.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’ve been working on a new EP, ‘Blood,’ for a year, which is due to be released in early 2020. The first single from the EP, ‘Unbeautiful,’ comes out January 14th, 2020.
I’m a novelist as well, and in February 2020, I’ll be releasing Book One of my new novel series, Velvet Moon Chronicles.
How are you using your success to bring “goodness” to the world? / What impact do you hope your music has on people?
I believe music is an alchemy medium; it’s transcendent in its ability to shoot straight into the heart of another human being. Everything I do, sing, write and put out into the world has my guts in it — the spectrum of my human and spiritual experience. I’m telling my stories and opening myself up in the hopes that it will help others, or act as a catharsis in some way. My music is imbued with ‘I’m with you’, ‘I’ve been there’, ‘You’re not alone.’
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
If only I were so blessed to have this kind of influence!
My heart is with, and loyal to, all the misfits out there. I have never, nor will I ever, truly ‘fit in.’ I am a misfit — an outlier. Growing up, by societal standards, I wasn’t considered ‘pretty’ or ‘cool.’ My story is all too common: bullied, chastised, judged, overlooked, underestimated–the list is long and for the most part, unimportant. What is important is honoring everyone for who they are and what makes them different. Our misfits are our future. We need them. They make the world interesting; they make the waves we need to counter stagnancy and above all, they remind us what it is to be truly free.
I use #MisfitsByStorm on social media as a way of speaking to those who feel they don’t fit in, or that they don’t have a tribe. I understand how that feels and we misfits need to stick together!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the music / entertainment industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Ask for what you need, when you need it. And, if you can at all help it, keep toxic people out of your creative process. The vitality lost on unstable, unsupportive and undermining energies will burn you out. Guaranteed.
If you cannot avoid working in a toxic circumstance, limit the association you have with its influence. Learn to negotiate your own space, creatively and emotionally.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?
A relationship with the mic is just as important as your relationship to the material you’re singing, and to your voice. You have one thing between your emotional/vocal performance and the board: the mic. It picks up everything you feel, every breath and nuance in your body, and all the intonations that make you unique. The mic can’t be viewed as ‘equipment,’ it is to a singer what a pen is to a writer — it is the ‘transference’ of the sound your soul makes when given a voice to express.
Stop ‘listening’ to your voice. There is a marked difference between ‘listening’ to your voice and ‘feeling’ your voice. Listening engages the mind, which brings in judgement and overthinking. Once the mind is in control it often pushes us to over sing and/or sing inauthentically. ‘Feeling’ your voice allows you to step into what you’re transmitting while being aware of your own emotions within the context of your performance experience. The act of feeling your voice disengages the mind and puts you into your body, which is where the truth of your story — your expression — lives.
People only have power over you and your work if you allow it. Being an artist requires deep self-intimacy and it takes courage to lay your feelings on the line. That vulnerability needs to be buttressed by knowing your boundaries and vetting your collaborators and creative team. Choose to be around those who see your vision, believe in your expression, and want to be along for the ride — not because they’re being paid to do so, or receiving a percentage, but because you, and your message resonates with them, personally.
Never, ever, question your gut. This is the biggest one for me. Give yourself permission to make a decision based on your gut even if everyone else thinks you’re insane or irrational. There has never been a time where I pushed through and/or ignored my gut that I didn’t regret it.
No one else can do what you can do (and you’re more beautiful that you even know). We all have our own unique artistic signature. Trust in that. Know that we each have our own handful of stardust that is — and will always be — our very own.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?