With her emotionally charged, sensual performances and a strength that radiates from her thought-provoking lyrics, Shanna Zell has carved a place in the world of female folk-rock artists.
Since moving to NYC 6 years ago, Shanna has entertained large crowds at notable venues including Rockwood Music Hall, Joe’s Pub, The Living Room and The Knitting Factory as well as at popular music showcases like CMJ and Midpoint Music Festival. The buzz she created with her music led to song placements in viral video campaigns for the 2008 presidential election and to a placement in the Off-Broadway play "Post No Bills" in Dec 2009.
Shanna's latest EP Coming Undone, was successfully fan-funded through a 90 day Pledge Music campaign and released soon after in January 2011. Coming Undone is a departure in both style and in theme from her first album, Hurricane Season (2005), showcasing Shanna's ability to seamlessly slip from heartfelt ballad to quirky power-pop song - resulting in its recent selection as a CD Baby Editor's Pick.
Shanna has performed at the following notable venues: The Knitting Factory (NYC) Rockwood Music Hall (NYC) The Bitter End (NYC) The Living Room (NYC) Banjo Jim's (NYC) 92Y (NYC) CB's Downstairs Gallery (NYC) Sidewalk Cafe (NYC) Southpaw (Brooklyn) Brooklyn Bowl (Brooklyn) Bar 4 (Brooklyn) World Cafe Live (Philly) Grape St. Pub (Philly) Genghis Cohen (LA) Duke University (NC) Brandeis University (MA) MidPoint Music Festival (Cincinatti) Southgate House (Cincinatti) Grog and Tankard (Washington, D.C.) The Venue (Edinburgh, Scotland) Czech Inn (Prague, CR)
Scott Stein - keys
Jeff Litman - Guitar
Matt Wigton - Bass
Chris Benelli - Drums
Coming Undone EP (Jan. 2011)
1. Little Twinkle
2. Gentle As Water
3. When Will They Meet
4. Who Will Turn Your World Around
5. Coming Undone
Hurricane Season (Nov. 2005)
1. Ecstasy Parade
2. The Dig
3. What You Said About Love
4. 46th St.
5. Under the Milky Way
6. Don't Go
7. Midnight Tide
8. Very Last Cliff of the Universe
9. The Flatlands
10. Just Like the Others
11. Kitchen Light
The Dig - Unreleased
1. Love to the Microphone
2. My Faith Strengthens
3. Song for the Beloved
4. Another Look in my Direction
5. The Dig
6. Let This Issue Sleep
7. At the Airport
8. Full View (Live)
The Friday Morning Listen: Shanna Zell
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It’s been a weird week, one saved by a few completely unrelated events. Saved from what? Let’s call ...It’s been a weird week, one saved by a few completely unrelated events. Saved from what? Let’s call it a dark mood, one that threatened to completely shut down my creative channels. It was a close call, as those channels haven’t exactly been gushing with ideas as of late. So it didn’t seem like it would take much to push me over the line.
But then I’m reading a magazine, The Sun, and there’s a quote from writer Anne Lamott – “How come you can hear a chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?”
It’s a great question, isn’t it? And it pretty much distills my concept of the mystery of musical resonance — why does that music make me react that way? So Lamott’s quote got me to thinking about just how great it feels when that reaction washes over you.
And so I felt a little bit better.
Earlier in the week (it might have been Tuesday), I woke up and did what I usually do every morning: pop open the browser on my phone to read the latest entry at Jeph Jacques’ Questionable Content. You might think that a web comic is a sort of low-brow way to start the day but, aside from the fact that on most days it’s funnier than hell, I find Jacques’ story inspiring. The guy did the comic as a kind of hobby until it became big enough for him to quit his day job. I had left GMail up the previous evening, so I scanned the emails before switching over to QC. There was a story in the No Depression newsletter about the latest Greg Brown album, due to released next month. A little Internet digging, and a couple of emails later I have a download link sent to me from a publicist at Yep Roc.
Brown’s Freak Flag blows me away…and I feel better still.
The next morning I decide to grab a few CDs from my review shelf, listening fodder for the drive to work. I had listened to Shanna Zell‘s EP once or twice after receiving it, but then circumstances intervened. I get to “When Will They Meet” and it’s immediately obvious that I have to give myself over to this song. It’s one of those star-crossed lovers, will they/won’t they pop songs that reminds me of a more rockin’ inversion of Dar Williams’ “Miss You ‘Til I Meet You.” I might have been more open to it because of the week’s earlier events, but for a few minutes flying down that country road, I’m listening to the perfect pop song. I’m at once grinning and nearly overwhelmed with emotion, grateful that I can feel something again.
How does this happen? How did those chords break open my heart?
5 Minutes with Shanna Zell
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I hear there will be a big party going down this Saturday at The Living Room when Shanna Zell releas...I hear there will be a big party going down this Saturday at The Living Room when Shanna Zell releases her latest music - an EP called Coming Undone. I might just have to get on a plane and stop by. In the meantime, here's the scoop on making it, funding it, and what to expect at the bash. - Pete Harris
Indie Sounds: You have a new EP about to be released - Coming Undone - so what's the background to it?
SZ: Coming Undone is the uncovering of the core of one’s self. And that’s exactly what happened when I went into the studio. My only requirement for this EP was that the sound be organic. As each tune was perfected, I realized that the soul of my music was actually quite unashamed pop-rock a la Sara Bareilles or KT Tunstall, with a hint of Nina Simone’s sultriness. This could not have been accomplished without my talented collaborators. Coming Undone is quite a departure from the moodiness of my first album Hurricane Season and I am so proud of the upbeat, accessible final product.
IS: Tell us about making it?
SZ:: After working with Jeff Berner at GaluminumFoil studios in March 2010 for The Ramblers’ record Getting There, I knew Jeff had the organic approach my songs needed. He reached out about recording a few of my tracks and the rest is history.
I brought in long time friends and band members Matt Wigton and Scott Stein to play bass and keys respectively, Jeff (wisely) recommended bringing in Adam Christgau to lay down drums and percussion, Jeff himself stepped up to play much of the rhythm and lead guitars. Fellow Rambler and musical compadre, Jeremiah Birnbaum, came in to lay down some great lead guitar tracks and harmonies on Who Will Turn Your World Around. The energy at each session was positive, excited, and led to a fantastic final outcome.
Download Coming Undone @ DigStation.
IS: This was a PledgeMusic project. Can you explain what that was about?
SZ: As I started planning the EP, I recognized I would not be able to finance the entire project on my own. Enter: PledgeMusic. This fan-funding program established by good friend Benji Rogers in 2009 allows fans to finance their favorite artist’s upcoming musical endeavors. In essence, fans pledge a certain dollar amount toward a musician’s project in exchange for valuable incentives. For example, the $10 pledge merited a digital download of the EP immediately upon completion. At $75 you became an Executive Producer of my album, at $300 I’d write you an original song and much more.
I set a financial goal at the beginning of the campaign and unless it was reached, no one would be charged and I wouldn’t reap the benefits. Moreover, 15% of anything donated after I met my goal would be given to The SAMFund, a charity of my choice that assists young adult survivors of cancer with a successful transition into post-treatment life. There were so many reasons to participate in the exciting campaign including exclusive video updates from our studio sessions and receiving an advance downloadable copy of the album, and in the end, my fans gave me the gift of being able to complete my EP.
IS: What advice would you give to others using PledgeMusic, or other crowd-funding sites, to deliver a successful project?
SZ: Your fans are everything. My friends, my family, people I’ve met at gigs and developed relationships with over the years all stepped up to the plate to help me reach my PledgeMusic goal. Anyone approaching a crowd-funded campaign should be sure to value the people around them who have been coming to live shows, reposting your messages on Facebook or Twitter, sharing tunes, giving words of encouragement. Share recordings of your live performances with as many potential fans as possible, use your social networking skills and highlight the incentives you’re using in the campaign to make this a truly crowd/fan-funded experience. In a nutshell, your fans are your friends ... make it special for them!
IS: You have a release gig coming up. What's the scoop?
SZ: Yes, Shanna and the Zellots will be making our Living Room debut this Saturday, January 29th at 8pm to celebrate the release of Coming Undone. We are thrilled for this full band show (featuring Jeff Berner, Matt Wigton, Scott Stein, Jeremiah Birnbaum, Chris Benelli, Jamie Rae and myself) at one of our favorite NYC venues, and excited to be followed by our good friends The Ramblers at 9 pm. Physical copies of Coming Undone, t-shirts and posters will be available at the show. We’ll be playing all five tracks off the EP, a handful of old tunes from Hurricane Season, some new-ish songs and debuting a brand new tune!
IS: And what else is about to be new and wonderful with Shanna Zell in 2011?
SZ: 2011 promises many a great thing. I’m working on a revamped website, planning a west coast tour and maybe even getting back in the studio to lay down another track or two. My goal is to expand upon the east coast venues I’ve played at over the years and keep the NYC gigs going strong in the coming months.
Shanna Zell Sings Her Heart Out
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You’ve gotta check out Shanna Zell, the singer/songwriter that stole our hearts with her performance...You’ve gotta check out Shanna Zell, the singer/songwriter that stole our hearts with her performance at our Home Three event last Sunday. I was FLOORED with the amazing voice that came out of this petite adorable creature that night. Her writing is amazing, you will get lost in the lyrics. Check her out, and be prepared to see much more of her in the upcoming months. We are in talks to get her involved with some of our summer parties so stay tuned….
MidPoint Music Festival
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Whether backed by a full Rock band or just singing with her acoustic guitar, singer/songwriter Zell'...Whether backed by a full Rock band or just singing with her acoustic guitar, singer/songwriter Zell's voice echoes with a passionate, aggressive force that makes her music stand out from some of her more timid peers. She dove into the NYC scene a few years ago, playing successful shows at esteemed venues like The Knitting Factory. Her first full-length album, Hurricane Season, features backing from musicians who have worked with everyone from Smashing Pumpkins to Tony Bennett and it has received good response from radio and Internet music sites. The album features the sultry Rock cut, "The Flatlands," which was chosen for the soundtrack of the awesomely-named indie flick, Dykeotomies, a comedy about a lesbian stand-up comedian.
Dig It: Alanis Morissette, Aimee Mann, Lisa Loeb. (Mike Breen, Music Editor)
Enough original material to play for over 120 minutes.
A typical set may look like this:
Love to Watch You Leave
When Will They Meet
Gentle As Water
Who Will Turn Your World Around
Gin on the Rocks
Very Last Cliff of the Universe
Higher Ground................................S. WONDER
I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl......N. SIMONE
Under the Milky Way......................THE CHURCH
Wild Horses....................................ROLLING STONES
Bizaare Love Triangle......................FRENTE
Waltz #2........................................E. SMITH
Such Great Heights.........................POSTAL SERVICE
There are no upcoming dates at this time.