Shanna Zell
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Shanna Zell

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Pop


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"5 Minutes with Shanna Zell"

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. - Indie Sounds

"Young Artists Come Home Again"

Courier-Post Staff

It's easy to go home again -- especially when South Jerseyans who have left the nest to seek fame and fortune can show off their talents to groups that extend beyond friends and family.

This month, two up-and-coming young artists following their dreams on opposite coasts will bring audiences up to date on their careers at the Katz Jewish Community Center's Blank Rome Festival of Arts, Books and Culture.

Although 23-year-old rocker Shanna Zell never attended school in South Jersey -- she stayed in Maryland to finish her high school senior year when her family moved -- she comes home to Cherry Hill every other weekend.

But when she isn't visiting parents Brian and Vicki, brother Adam, a Cherry Hill High School East graduate, and sister Alyssa, an East freshman, Zell is composing and performing music she calls "not so chick rock."

This weekend, she'll stretch her visit home long enough to perform Tuesday evening at a festival teen event at Cherry Hill's Temple Emanuel.

Zell said she was always a musical ham, beginning to dance and play piano at age 5. By age 6, she was writing songs, "even if incoherent."

For her 16th birthday, she asked for a guitar.

"My parents thought it was just a phase, but it stuck," she said.

At Brandeis University -- she graduated in 2004 at age 20 -- Zell sang with an a cappella group and performed her own music at campus gigs.

"I don't feel that my music is angry or spiteful. It's about wanting to rock out with a good crowd," said Zell, who travels with a three-piece band.

After college and working for five months at her physician dad's Marlton practice, Zell moved to New York and got a day job arranging young adult programming at the 92nd Street Y. She performs frequently at clubs and festivals and has an album out, titled Hurricane Season.

Now a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Zell has listened to her parents and kept a day job, but one that keeps her immersed in music. While she hones her craft, she works for a company that packages and markets CDs by independent musicians.

"My music is all about love -- being in love, falling out of love, having your heart broken and establishing my place as a woman in this world. It's about following my passions. It's just so much fun living out my dream," Zell said.

Brian Herzlinger would agree. The Marlton native, whose feature film My Date with Drew was released in 2005, will close the JCC festival on Nov. 12 with a screening and discussion at the Ritz 16 in Voorhees.

Part documentary, part romantic comedy, the film follows Herzlinger's quest to meet Barrymore, an obsession of his since he saw her in ET as a child. Produced on a budget of $1,100 that Herzlinger won on a quiz show, My Date with Drew has played around the world and opens in Tokyo on Dec. 9.

"People have written from everywhere, saying the film has inspired them to follow their own dreams," Herzlinger, 30, said.

Promoting the film has taken him to England, Germany, Norway and most recently Japan.

"They love Drew in Japan. But the movie theme seems very different for them there. Stopping work to pursue their dream is very alien to the Japanese culture," he said.

Herzlinger, a 1994 Cherokee High School graduate and Ithaca College alumnus now living in Sherman Oaks, Calif., said his movie is among the most profitable of all time, relatively speaking.

"Domestically, it has grossed $6 million from theaters and video on a $1,100 investment," he noted.

Since his film came out, he has landed an independent-filmmaker correspondent position with The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He is also working on several new films, most with Drew collaborators Kerry David and Cherry Hill High School East graduates Brett Winn and Jon Gunn.

One project, an original screenplay called Before Christmas, is a "big family adventure" focusing on a young Santa and Mrs. Claus and how the holiday came about.

Herzlinger will extend this month's stay with his parents, Eric and Zita, through Thanksgiving, so he can shoot the Before Christmas trailer here. He will also collaborate with childhood friend Jay Black, now a teacher at Seneca High School, on a documentary following Black's own quest to become a stand-up comic.

Herzlinger and Barrymore stay in touch through e-mails and letters, and exchange birthday cards.

"Her birthday is three days after mine, but a year ahead," he explained.

Reach Barbara S. Rothschild at (856) 486-2416 or

Shanna Zell and her band will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Katz JCC's Blank Rome Festival of Arts, Books and Culture as part of the Teen Scene Spotlight at Temple Emanuel, 1101 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill. Tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the door.

Brian Herzlinger will host a screening and lead a discussion of his film, "My Date with Drew,' at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Ritz 16 in Voorhees. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

For information, call (856) 424-4444, ext. 292, or visit To find out more about the artists and their projects, visit, and - The Courier Post, NJ

"The Friday Morning Listen: Shanna Zell"

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?

-Mark Saleski -

"Shanna Zell Sings Her Heart Out"

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…. -

"Hurricane Season – Shanna Zell Blows with a Force Into the NY Music Scene"

Mark S. Young
Culture Writer – McGill University Daily 2000-2001

Music Enthusiast

A wind is blowing hard into the New York music scene.. Soulfoul like Tori, a bit of Alanis’s anger mixed with the rock edge of a Liz Phair, 22 year old singer-songwriter Shanna Zell provides a breath of fresh air with melody and touching lyrics perfect to bring the public out of the doldrums of today’s manufactured pop, lame hip-hop, or whiny ballads.

Zell’s Hurricane Season starts off loud and direct, the drums hammering listeners into the “Ectascy Parade.” “Running to the money but it’s the music that I’m craving,” Zell makes it perfectly obvious of her passion to be a rock star, but her lyrics are not without soul and creativity. The music is well produced and in sync with Shanna’s ear-soothing voice, stylish bass lines and quality guitar rifts from lead Jeremiah Burnbaum.

The first two tracks, including “The Dig,” are rock heavy and loud, but Hurricane Season is multidimensional, providing listeners with slower guitar tunes, piano ballads, and great pop that had several colleagues of mine dancing around the office. Slow ballads, including “46th St.” and “Don’t Go,” magnify Zell’s lyrical abilities and very appealing vocals. She is not, however, without a sense of anger and frustration. Make sure your kids aren’t listening to Flatlands, as I found myself back in high school reminded of Alanis’s Jagged Little Pill. Like Morrisette in 1995, Zell is young, but already has a strong sense of musical maturity.

I am partial to the great pop tune, and if you need a great folk-rock pick me up sail down to Track #7, “Midnight Tide.” Zell masters the art of transforming the simple acoustic chord progression into a light, meaningful, upbeat, pop-tune that in my opinion belongs on the Top 40 charts right now. It is on constant repeat on my I-pod and will have you “spinning like the mirrors on a disco-ball.”

The overall appeal for Hurricane Season is its diversity and coherent flow. It has pick-me ups, cool downs, and provides for auditory mysterious journeys. Close your eyes during Zell’s creative cover of the Church’s “Under the Milky Way,” it will whisk you away. There are tracks you can click straight to depending on your mood, but the album also flows nicely as a unit. In this era of I-Tunes and track downloads the album as a work of art may be obsolete, but Hurricane Season makes a case for the album as an art itself. Let’s just say I am glad that the first full length CD I bought in two years was Hurricane Season.

There is certainly room for growth in Zell’s music. She could do without reverb in some songs, and many musical effects included in “Flatlands” or ‘The Dig” are maybe too elaborate, critical only because she proves her melodic talent just fine without any bells and whistles. On that point, don’t forget to listen and pay attention to the last two tracks. “Kitchen Light” especially will have you falling into a daydream we have all experienced, strife, victory, loss, love, and searching all rolled into 4minutes and 15 seconds. She has a mastery of rhythm on guitar and piano that is on par with many major label acts.

Zell’s performance at her CD release party at the Makor Café on November 19th exuberated an overwhelming sense of confidence on stage. She not only lives and breathes her music but she loves performing it, which is revealed on the CD as well. The 2005 season of Hurricanes may have ended November 30th, but Hurricane Season is a good listen any time of the year. For Zell, I hope this is just her first storm to hit.



The word "passivity" pops up in Zell's track "The Dig" and it just doesn't sound right coming out of her mouth. That's because there is no passivity in this young singer-songwriter's power folk that channels Tori and Ani in equal measure, with a ripping rock core.
-Editor's Review -

"New series from Rivertown Music Club kicks off Jan. 6 at Southgate"

New series from Rivertown Music Club kicks off Jan. 6 at Southgate

Contributed by kelly thomas
Thursday, December 21, 2006

Newport, KY-The Rivertown Music Club has been combining great local music and charity for the past 3 years. On January 6, 2007, RTMC’s latest series, "One More Girl On A Stage" will carry on that tradition. The series will support and celebrate women via monthly shows at Southgate House featuring local and national female musicians with a donation being made from each show to benefit a woman-focused charity/organization.

The show on January 6 will kick off the series with some of the most talented women from the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area; Kinsey Rose, Jesse Thomas, Tupelo Honey, Lauren Houston, Kelly Thomas & The Fabulous Pickups, Wussy, The Fairmount Girls, Kristen Key, Twisted Wood, The Whitney Barricklow Band, Holly Spears, My Wife The Tiger, Viva La Foxx, Chakras, Foxfire, The Reverend Mother and The Tammy WhyNots. Along with National performer, Shanna Zell (New York City). The line-up is extremely diverse and includes acoustic acts and full bands. A website has been set up at with links to all the performers, along with pictures and sound clips.

The show will benefit The Pink Ribbon Girls (, a breast cancer survivor’s organization. This show has personal meaning for many of the musicians involved that have faced breast cancer either personally or with a loved one. There will also be a raffle, at the show, to help raise money for the organization.

The Pink Ribbon Girls Mission
Pink Ribbon Girls (PRG) are committed to helping young women diagnosed with breast cancer by creating a support network of survivors through personal contact as well as the internet. Young women are offered the flexibility of joining a group that doesn't require a monthly commitment, such as that of a formal support group. Having a monthly night out provides young women with an outlet for sharing many aspects of their life, including breast cancer. Topics of discussion and guest speakers for each meeting include issues more specific to being diagnosed at an earlier age, such as dating, caring for young children while undergoing treatment and fitness and nutrition. PRG offers its members support in many ways, including a welcome packet filled with a membership directory, helpful tips, a personal journal, and many other useful materials. Other means of support include providing meals to PRG members and their families during treatment or after surgery. PRG also realizes that until there is a cure, we must all do our part to educate women about this disease and focus on the early detection of it.

PRG Contact Info
PO Box 33011
Cincinnati, Ohio 45233
Banita Bailey

Suggested donation at the door is $7. Ages 21 and up welcome. Doors at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit

"5 Vital Questions for Shanna Zell"

Indie Sounds: If you were a hooker, what would be your name?

Shanna Zell: Leigh Bushwick.

IS: Who would you choose to get stuck on a desert island with?

Shanna: For entertainment: the cast of Family Guy so they could repeatedly reenact my favorite episodes. For music: David Bowie and a reincarnated Nina Simone. For protecting me from the wild Manbearpig: Pete Harris. For all other "desert island needs" then Ryan Gosling and Johnny Depp.

IS: If you could give someone an old fashioned slap across the face, who would you like to strike?

Shanna: Other than George W? Britney Spears. What a little tart. And let's slap Tom Cruise, too, while we're at it.

IS: Your favorite method of relaxation?

Shanna: Let's just say I don't want to hurt my chances of being able to run for President one day ...

IS: iTunes or Starbucks?

Shanna: iTunes provides me with joy for hours on end, so definitely iTunes. Plus they have Tetris for your iPod and that's way cool.

MySpace: shannazell

Questions: Mistress Tessa Perry, - Indie Sounds NY: Issue 29

"MidPoint Music Festival"

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) - Cincinnati City Beat

"Derek Sivers"

hey Shanna -

Great CD! In my car, now.


Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby, HostBaby - Personal E-mail

"Shanna Zell - Sidewalk Cafe 7/20"

Shanna Zell @ Sidewalk Cafe - 7/20/06
Usually I would wait until after seeing a show to review it, but I already know how great Shanna Zell's performance is going to be at the Sidewalk Cafe (6th & Ave A) this Thursday at 8pm. (New York-based Jeremiah Birnbaum will also be performing.)
Why do I know it will be great? Trajectory.
I'm a big fan of physics (and the Sidewalk Cafe, among other things), and Shanna Zell's career has been following a trajectory that's so 'outta this world' you can't help but jump on the rocket ship. Over the past several years, Shanna has matured into a soulful and ecelctic singer/songwriter with something to offer everyone (including Hip-Hop, Jazz and Country Western fans such as yours truly). Her gritty style and poetic lyrics keep your ears tuned and your heart in check -- and I'd be hard-pressed to think of a better thing to do than listen to her on a Thursday night at the Sidewalk Cafe.


" Comment"

Your music makes me wanna have sex, smoke cigarettes and walk the streets at night, go play europe, say hi to a bird, eat a good sandwich


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)



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)