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A Glimpse of Stardom

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Parent Category: Entertainment


shawnaIn a time when so many people are being affected by life circumstances and events around the world it is refreshing to see that an artist, songwriter, entertainer, is willing to share in your reality, unafraid to relate to the fans. Shawna Russell is such an entertainer, composing and performing powerful songs expressing the world’s stories in a beautiful and meaningful way.

Influences apparent from folk artists like Fleetwood Mac, Shawna’ s lyrics and melodies touch the hearts of a world needing understanding. Embracing a destiny of entertainment, acknowledging a call to be a nomadic gypsy traveler, Shawna clings steadfast to her family roots in Okemah, OK while sharing her talented gifts with the entertainment world she is proud to call home.


“Born in Holdenville, OK” Shawna Russell grew up “the daughter of a football coach” and moved around frequently. Relocating to “a different town about every 4 years” didn’t allow much grass to grow beneath Shawna’s feet before she was off on a new adventure in another town. Living in towns like “Cromwell, Broken Bow, Okmulgee, and Okemah” have Shawna grounded in family, her native Oklahoma, and small town hospitality. Choosing to make Okemah her home provides Shawna with a constant flow of memories and shared experiences with her family members when she is not on the road.


Performing for the “first time live at the age of 7 in a production at her Aunt’s church”, Shawna “sang a song” and portrayed a “ragamuffin” in the play. This was the first occasion in which Shawna’s father, Keith “took notice of her singing” ability and she was thrilled to have “gotten through the play” capturing acknowledgment from her dad. Quite an accomplishment for single digits! While Shawna doesn’t recall the name of the play or any lyrics of the song she performed, it was definitely the beginning of her career as an entertainer and she embraced it fully, joining her “first band by the age of 13”!


Devoting “a year” to “learning guitar”, Shawna found she “could focus on the guitar” in a manner she “had been unsuccessful at with the piano”. The instrument’s appeal motivates her focus which had been lacking with piano something that has never been the case with guitar. Recently presented with a “Goddess Les Paul” guitar “from her parents”, Shawna has received a new inspiration. Not only did the guitar “inspire her with a title hit from her new CD”, it has become her “favorite type of guitar to play” as well! The “Goddess is a guitar designed with a female in mind” and accommodates Shawna’s feminine stature and petite hand span. If you are concerned about never being able to play the instrument you love, there is hope and Shawna has now provided you with such inspiration through her Goddess Les Paul!


Playing the guitar under the instruction of her father and gifted with “playing by ear”, Shawna has continued to progress herself as a musician “playing acoustic guitar, rhythm, lead, and electric slide”. Not to be confined to only stringed instrumentation, Shawna “learned to play Alto saxophone in middle school and progressed to Tenor saxophone in high school” rounding out her instrument repertoire. If versatility in an artist is a premiere requirement then look no further!


Undaunted by being “the only girl”, doing whatever was necessary and fulfilling any role that was required Shawna “played in a band with 3 others, all males until graduating High School”. “Playing acoustic guitar, singing lead or back up, this became the learning phase” when Shawna was progressing herself as a musician among a group of veterans. “Keith Russell, played guitar, Uncle Larry Sanders played bass, and Billy Phillips played drums” while Shawna filled any gap that remained. Time was spent performing in “family friendly venues and 1 particular 18 and over club” that would allow Shawna’s presence as a minor “on weekends”. What Shawna viewed as work on building her career was undoubtedly the ultimate life in the views of her classmates.


Cementing her desire to be a successful female entertainer occurred when Shawna took the stage at “The Grizzly Rose in Colorado while opening for Blake Shelton”. Not her first opening performance at this venue, Shawna Russell was well known and had fans that came just to see her show. On this particular evening when Shawna took the stage the crowd’s response was “crazy”, it was as if “I was a bigger star, and it made me realize that this is what it was all about. I got it; I understood what stars at this level felt like and why they love it so much, why they wanted to get to a bigger level. I now wanted to go even further in my career, to see that level of stardom every night!”


Privileged to perform with a fellow “Oklahoman, Ty England for 3 years”, Shawna recalls their “South Korea USO tour in 2005” as her “most memorable”. The tour was in “close” proximity to “the demilitarized zone” celebrating the United States Independence Day. United States military troops abroad, miles away from their families on such a favored summer holiday was tough and the artists really empathized with the troops needs. Shawna was particularly “moved by the number of women serving abroad” and inspired to compose ‘Shed a Tear’ in their honor. Whether serving our country by defending our nation’s freedoms abroad or entertaining our troops abroad, we appreciate the sacrifices made by everyone involved and graciously salute your efforts!


Wondering what makes an artist, what motivates their pursuit of entertaining the public, well Shawna Russell is driven by a passion to perform music for the enjoyment of others. Surrounding herself with people who support her and have never asked “when are you going to get a real job?” successful people who also desire and aid in facilitating her success as a musician. Shawna has “no regrets; she loves her life and loves her job, loves her family, and wants everyone to know that she was born to be on stage performing music she loves”, sharing her passions with her audience! Such an attitude is the defining character of a dynamic artist because the music “business is not all glamour” and lights, its sweat and tears born of struggles!


“Influenced” primarily “by” her “father’s musical tastes” as her “musical hero”, Shawna has listened to many diverse genres of music and possess’ just as many mentoring elements as you can imagine. Everything from the “Doobie Brothers” to “June Carter Cash” provokes passion in Shawna and inspires her music. Being a “fan of the classics”, Shawna desires to “make” her music every bit as “enduring and timeless”, hoping that 30 years from now people are still captivated by her music. “When a song provokes an emotional response”, no matter how many times you have heard it, when the response “remains every bit as strong as the first listening experience”, that is successful inspiration. For Shawna one such song is ‘Leader of the Band’ by Dan Fogelberg because it “captures the essence of musical inspirations and the compelling influences that musicians have on you”.


Emotionally responsive to her own music, Shawna has found that “no matter how often she performs ‘Shed a Tear’ the song has an effect” on her, touching her at the core and tugging her heart strings. Shawna chooses to embrace such emotion, while “maintaining” her “focus on her music in order to perform the song in a manner the crowd can respond to and be proud to listen to as well”. Hopefully, those same emotions are felt in the audience as they hear this tribute to women in our military service. Whether you are someone who believes war is wrong or necessary, surely we can all come together in support of those who honor and serve their country in sacrificial service because their lives are a precious gift.


Rituals prior to a performance, Shawna has but one, she “always warms up her voice for about 20-30 minutes before going on stage”. “Warming up to a CD” of musical scales, Shawna becomes “relaxed and reassured” that she is prepared and her “voice has been exercised” to maintain its health which enables her to do her job well, continuing with a lifelong passion on stage. Dedication to the maintenance of a vocal instrument is every bit as important as a technician is to the maintenance of any other instrument.


Interests outside of music that occupy a percentage of Shawna’s time include virtually “anything” that involves the sanctuary of “outdoors”. An all “American girl” who enjoys activities in “nature, college football and baseball, knitting and reading” Shawna feeds her spirit in quiet simple ways which contrast her life on stage. Thought provoking introspective activities like reading, knitting, and camping tend to refresh, rejuvenate, and relax Shawna when she is home for a rest. Sorry college football fans the heart of this artist has been captured by “Oklahoma University”. While Shawna Russell is “proud of both OU and OSU teams because they both represent Oklahoma well”, she “favors OU”…no particular reason, “That’s just the way it is”.


Teaming up with established artists to co-write music, Shawna would choose “Stevie Nicks” for female artist and “Dan Fogelberg, had it been possible” before his passing, for male artist. Stevie Nicks is “so fun and has always been one of my music heroes, so sitting down and producing a song with her ideas and my ideas put together would be great!” Performing a duet, Shawna is “a big fan” and would like to collaborate with “Keith Urban” because he is “not hard to look at, and he’s a great performer, singer, songwriter so it would be fun to duet with him.”


Driven toward long term success and feeling that “awards are something that are given to individuals when it is believed that they have achieved success”, Shawna really wants to continue to “focus on creating enduring success” for herself and not focus on any particular award. Acknowledging that it “would be nice to receive a Grammy”, Shawna will not define her success by awards alone, rather by the “continuation” of what she has currently embarked upon and then doing it “for years to come”!


Desiring only to “perform wherever people want to hear her music”, Shawna “will go to any locations that her fans gather at”. Touring can lead this artist anywhere and as long as she has “fans who wish to hear live music” she will be found on stage, happy, and singing from the depths of her heart and soul. Shawna’s legacy will always be the intense passionate desire to perform for fans everywhere, “no matter how tough life gets” she “will not back down”, she “will not quit”, and she “will always happily give it” her “all”! Expressing her intense “appreciation to all family members, friends, and fans” that supports her in her musical pursuits Shawna is so pleased to have you all along for this ride!


Viewing the “music industry as a viable, sustainable, industry” which has provided Shawna with the privilege to “connect with people everywhere” in all walks of life she believes “music to be a wonderful business”. Providing “uplifting” entertainment for the public, particularly when “times are tough”, “even if only” distracting them for “a brief time” is “rewarding” and something she is “proud to be associated with”. As long as music is available and people want to hear and see Shawna she “intends to be a part of” its “industry”.


Guiding Shawna in the pursuit of her dreams are “co-managers Clif Doyal and Tim Russell”, these gentleman act in a “frank and honest” manner regardless of Shawna’s desire’s. “Surrounding oneself with individuals that tell the truth” and don’t just offer lip service is what Shawna feels is “a key to her growth and success”. Contributing to her own mission of creative success, Shawna has partnered in “co-ownership with production label Way Out West Records LLC’ as well as “co-written” the majority of her newest CD production.


Blessed by the “outpouring of talent” on her newest album, Shawna found it “incredible” that “so many extremely talented musicians associated with such great artists were willing to support” her in the production of Goddess. “Meeting” each of them beneath one roof “at Upstairs Productions in Oklahoma City”, Shawna was so “astounded by their generosity” that she “could not even sing”! Such an event for Shawna who doesn’t even consider herself “a star in any right”, was a once in a lifetime memorable occasion.


“Concerned by the impersonal aspects of the internet” environments, Shawna wishes to “maintain” that all important “personal connection” with her audience by “touring” and continuing a “one on one” level of entertainment “with the fans”. For this artist it is not just about being on stage, it is about “getting to know people” wherever she performs.  In the interest of fairness, Shawna does maintain a website presence for her fans and you can also connect with her here: http://www.shawnarussell.com/news.htm


“Appreciative of all of the women who have traveled this path before” her, forging an “easier” road through their efforts, Shawna “believes women have really come a long way in the entertainment world”. Women are now “fulfilling more roles in the music industry” because of the “barriers” that female predecessors have eradicated. An “industry that is a majority of men” dictates, that “women prove” their desire for endurance. “Demonstrating their commitment” for the long term career, women are forced to rise to the occasion “making them stronger” individuals.


“Meeting” an artist like “Sheryl Crow” makes an impact on a person and Shawna’s encounter was no different. “Admiring Sheryl for her accomplishments as a musician, songwriter, and being an integral component in her band…she symbolizes everything that Shawna would like to be as a performer on stage”. As a role model in the business Sheryl has “inspired” Shawna both “as an entertainer and as a producer”.


Patterning her life after a “vision of the ideal woman who is both a tough” survivalist and a tender nurturer, Shawna aspires to strike that all important balance of female attributes that compel people to want to know you and preserve the life you have labored to create. To that end, “if you are a female who desires to be an entertainer get out there and try it out, pursue your desires and never give up if it is truly what you wish to do”. Tenacity will steal you through the inevitable rejections so you can continue to perform. In the end you may have your glimpse of stardom one night when you take the stage just like Shawna.


Catching up with Shawna Russell prior to her Buffalo Run performance in Miami, OK was no easy task and I certainly appreciate Shawna and her co-managers allowing me the privilege of her time on such a busy day. Shawna Russell possess’ a fabulous blending of sounds unlike any other. Shawna and the band entertain fans of Pop, Folk, Blues, Soul, Spiritual, Country, and Southern Rock alike. Whatever genre you lean to, you can hear a bit of it wherever Shawna Russell performs. Songs sporting blues/honky tonk keyboards and edgy guitar solos with grooving riffs, or experience inspired folk ballads, it’s all here for the fans who appreciate music and talented musicians who produce it. So, the next time you hear the name Shawna Russell broadcast with a notice that she is performing at a venue near you, check her out and see if you can’t catch a star on the rise!


Shawna, may God continue to bless you richly in all of your musical endeavors and keep you safe in your many journeys ahead! The world is indeed a better place because of music and the passionately devoted entertainers who bless us with their gifts…thank you, may we always be so blessed!






























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