Shannon OConnor
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Shannon OConnor


Band Americana Country


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"5 STAR RATING-Roots Music Report"

This lady is so cool to listen to that it is best not to have anything else planned for an hour or so because you may never get to it. (This CD is that good). Shannon O’Connor has just released an album that will make radio take notice very soon. Her songwriting and especially her vocal performance is so unique she will develop her signature sound with fans immediately and we are sure the fans will request much more.  - Roots Music Report

"LA Daily News Review: Shannon O'Connor, Low in Paradise"

SHANNON O'CONNOR: "Low in Paradise" (Varrga)

From country blues to space lounge, O'Connor covers a lot of ground. But this singer-songwriter's impressive debut ties it all together with literate, wickedly carnal lyrics, tonal experiments that never bust their melodies and a deadpan voice that somehow puts across peculiar aches,  like an academic who yearns to be a biker babe. O'Connor even rewrites old timey standards like "Salty Dog" and "Down on My Knees" to mesh with her universe of bubbly dissatisfaction. A distinctive new talent. - Bob Strauss, Staff Writer

"St. Louis Post-Dispatch Review"

"I got a girl child she looks like her daddy/Sometimes I think it haunts me," is the first line Shannon O'Connor sings on the kickoff track "Ride." It signals an unusual goal the Pittsburgh native and North Carolina resident has for her debut CD: find the father of her 10-year-old daughter who left without knowing O'Connor was pregnant. But O'Connor uses a light touch - her Web site calls her music "sultry Americana" - on several tracks that recall classic country, bluegrass and Celtic song forms before settling into a midtempo singer-songwriter groove. Relaxed, almost off-hand vocals caress a CD full of love songs, some sexy ("Cowboy Robot") and some edgy ("Falling for You"). A promising debut. - St. Louis Dispatch

" Review by William Ruhlmann"

Musicians make records for various reasons, but few have been as upfront
about their motives as Shannon O'Connor is about her debut album, Low in
Paradise. According to her press biography, "she hopes the release of the
album will help her find the father of her daughter and begin a relationship
between the two." It seems that O'Connor "lost track of" a paramour before
informing him that she was pregnant and now, ten years later, wants to make
up for it. She gets started right away on the opening track, "Ride,"
singing, "I got a girl a child she looks like her daddy/Sometimes I think it
haunts me." Whether or not the album will function successfully as an
advertisement to reclaim the father of O'Connor's child, it makes a claim
for her as a significant, albeit derivative, Americana singer/songwriter.
She is steeped in traditional folk and country styles, and she tends to
quote old tunes in her songs even when she isn't overtly rewriting a
timeless song such as "Down on My Knees" or "Salty Dog." As a performer, she
has some of the unpolished, semi-professional feel of the Carter Family in
her unfettered renditions, and producer/mixer Michael Binikos and mastering
engineer Mark Chalecki have emphasized this roughhewn quality by giving the
album a loud sound in which the instruments clash, making for a very live
feel. In O'Connor's lusty, quirky variants on simple folk structures and her
enthusiastic, off-the-cuff vocals, one sometimes hears echoes of Edie
Brickell and the Roches, but the ruling influence is Lucinda Williams.
O'Connor doesn't have Williams' throatiness, but she is coming from the same
places, sometimes literally, as when she starts singing about Baton Rouge in
"Restless." Low in Paradise may not bring back O'Connor's old boyfriend, but
it is likely to bring a lot of admirers to her shows. - Review

"Metro Magazine"

While it's true that there's no such thing as an overnight success in the music business, it is still possible to land a record deal with an indie label rather abruptly and find yourself cutting tracks in a studio in short order.

That's essentially what happened to Orange County resident Shannon O'Connor, a singer/songwriter whose tunes are basically Americana in nature, and whose debut album, Low in Paradise, will be released September 13 on Varga Records.

O'Connor is a writer of very shrewd tunes. There's no shortage of wit in her lyrics, but that's not to say her songs are funny. There's an unapologetic earthiness in the thoughts she commits to music, and she sings them in a voice that's as straightforward as her lyrics. Men often find women mysterious, and O'Connor may have her share of mystery, but it doesn't show up in her songwriting. She's pretty much an open book, emotionally, and there's a lot to like in that.

Low in Paradise also benefits from some sharp studio work turned in by producer Michael Binikos and musicians Sarah Glasco, Jonathan Yudkin, Pat Buchanan, and Ella Glasgow. The disc is musically sturdy, with just enough nuance to give it a polished feel. It's an impressive debut for O'Connor-a project that will win her fans well beyond North Carolina.

Shannon O'Connor isn't a native of the Tar Heel State, though she has tapped into a sound that has a strong fan following in these parts. "I was born at the junction of the three rivers in Pittsburgh," O'Connor said during a recent chat. "I'm from up North-Irish-Italian roots. The Italians lived on one side of the block and the Irish lived up the hill on the other side of the block, and my dad and mom met somewhere in the middle, and then I was born.

"We moved down to Montgomery County, Maryland, which is a suburb of DC, so my dad could take a teaching position," she continued. "That was where I grew up. It was an average sort of place. I left home early-14-and went to the beach, to Ocean City. Then when I was 16 I was in New York City, getting ready to start art school at Parsons School of Design. When I was 20 I left school and traveled around the country to study environmental education."

O'Connor returned to Parsons and finished her art degree and then embarked on another odyssey, through West Virginia and Virginia, before arriving in North Carolina in 1993 to work with Louise Kessel on the third annual Haw River Festival.

"The Festival was a good place for my art background and my environmental education interests to meet, you might say," she noted.

"I also went to Ireland, between finishing art school and moving to North Carolina. That's really where I started making my living playing music, if you can call it a living. I was just playing on the streets, making enough money for my next meal. I went to Ireland intending to stay a month, but I stayed four months. I had a great time. I was really well received. When I returned to the States I moved down here."

O'Connor explained that it was simply "cosmic fate" that put her on the road to Low in Paradise.

"I was working at Time After Time, the vintage thrift store on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill," she said. "One day I ran into work late, opened the front door and saw these two men waiting. They came into the store and really got into the music I was playing on the CD player. We started talking about the show at Cat's Cradle that night, which was Jim White opening for Luna. I'd been invited to that show, and these two guys were in town to see that same show. One of them was Christopher Jereb.

"I chatted with Christopher at Time After Time, and saw him again at the Jim White Show. Well, after the show we went to the Orange County Social Club for drinks, and then my girlfriend and I invited him to come to my house and listen to some music. We ended up playing a song for him that's on my album-just guitar and cello, and I sang-and he loved it. He took my demo and passed it to a few people he knew, but it really didn't go anywhere."

When O'Connor won the first annual Cat's Cradle Songwriting Contest, however, the achievement rebooted her career. She contacted Christopher Jereb again,
to share her good news, and he responded more enthusiastically than O'Connor expected.

"He decided we were going to make a record, and he told me to start looking for producers," she said. "So I started looking around. I checked out Chris Stamey, but he was busy with his own project.

Meanwhile, Christopher found Michael Binikos in LA and flew him out here to see me perform at Local 506. The next month we recorded basic tracks at Overdub Lane in Chapel Hill in December 2003.

"When we wrapped that up we went to this amazing place in Nashville called The Castle and did vocal overdubs. We also brought in some Nashville players and vocalists. I also re-did a couple of tracks at Oceanway in Nashville later. That was when Pat Buchanan [guitar] and Jonathan Yudkin [fiddle, m - Metro Magazine


Low in Paradise, debut CD released Sept. 2005 on Varrga Records

radio airplay, "Ride"- radio play on americana stations nationwide:

WERU FM E Orland, ME
WMFO FM Medford, MA
WDVR FM Sergeantsville, NJ
WFDU FM Teaneck, NJ
WRIU FM Wakefield, RI
WFCS FM Killingsworth, CT
WSYC FM Shippensburg, PA
WRNR FM Annapolis, MD
WCHG FM Hot Springs, VA
WVLS FM Monterey, VA
WYOU FM Virginia Beach, VA
Twangcast Fredericksburg, VA
WVMR Dunmore, WV
WSGE FM Dallas, NC
WXDU FM Durham, NC
WJJC Commerce, GA
Countrybear Lk Placid, FL
KASU FM State University, AR
WOJB FM Hayward, WI
WTIP FM Grand Marais, MN
KAXE FM Grand Rapids, MN
KUMD FM Duluth, MN
WHAY FM Whitley City, KY
WMKY FM Morehead, KY
WMMT FM Whitesburg, KY
KDHX FM St Louis, MO
KANZ FM Garden City, KS
WEFT FM Champaign, IL
WWHP FM Farmer City, IL
KPFT FM Houston, TX
KGLP FM Gallup, NM
KWRP FM Sante Fe, NM
KRCL FM Salt Lake City, UT
KGLT FM Bozeman, MT
KDNK FM Carbondale, CO
KGNU FM Boulder, CO
KSJD FM Cortez, CO
KSUT FM Ignacio, CO
KUTE FM Durango, CO
KVNF FM Paonia, CO
KMUD FM Redway, CA
KVMR FM Nevada City, CA
KWMR FM Pt Reyes, CA
Semi-Twang Sacramento, CA
KBOO FM Portland, OR
KMUN FM Astoria, OR
KRVM FM Eugene, OR
KSMF FM Ashland, OR
KBBI Homer, AK
KTOO FM Juneau, AK
KTUH FM Honolulu, HI



Shannon O'Connor's music has been described in a number of ways: "Gutsy"; "Sultry Americana"; "No-holds-barred honesty"; "Beguiling"; "Carolina's own Gretchen Wilson." Take your pick.

But for O'Connor, a single mother of a 10-year old girl, her new Varrga Records Release, Low In Paradise, is an album full of songs that may best be described as "Single Mom Country Blues." "This is a collection of love songs," she explains. "Some are songs written to my daughter. Some are about old flames and some are imaginary. But I think they are all true."

O'Connor's goals for the album are hefty. Notable among them is that she hopes the release of the album will help her find the father of her daughter and begin a relationship between the two. "He doesn't even know about her," says O'Connor, who lost track of the father before her 10-year-old daughter was born. "She asks about him and I've tried everything I can to find him, but I have no clue where he is now. I think he would really like her, too."

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, O'Connor's earliest musical memories stem from her Irish - Italian upbringing. "When times were most turbulant - and that's bound to happen in an Irish / Italian household - I heard some really wonderful music," O'Connor says. "My mom would calm down by playing piano. She loved 'Layla," and would play it in a really elaborate, classical style."

Music began to take hold on O'Connor as a young art student in New York City. As a budding environmentalist, it wasn't long before O'Connor took time off from Parsons School of Design and headed out to study with The Audubon Expedition Institute. Basically, students boarded a converted school bus and headed across country, learning about differing cultures from region to region.

"People who didn't know each other and who were from all walks of life got on this bus and traveled all over the United States for almost a year," she says. "One night, we were sitting in a field in Maine and one of the guys pulled out a mandolin and started playing 'Good Night Irene.' He was no expert mandolinist, but it was perfect. That night, under the stars, I fell in love with music."

"I learned through studying folk songs by writers like Pete Seeger, that some of the best songs ever written were simple," says O'Connor. "I try and write my songs using the old-time structures that I loved from the Virginia Hills and Irish ballads."

Later,when she returned to Parsons and Eugene Lang College to finish her degrees, her love for poetry deepened through studies with Sekou Sundiata, who also instructed Ani DiFranco at the time. "He taught me to write what I felt. He would say 'there's nothing new under the sun, there's only new ways of saying it.'

After settling in North Carolina, O'Connor and a few friends would have "big singings". Those same friends supported her emotionally when she became pregnant. "When I had my daughter, it was like somebody took the snowglobe I was living in and shook it all up," she laughs. "I was lucky to have some good friends who were very generous in helping me. As much as I love my daughter, it's hard sometimes being on your own."

In hard times, O'Connor would escape by writing brutally truthful songs about how she was feeling or the circumstances she was going through. It's that approach to her music that has led to Low In Paradise. "Music has been a saving grace for me. I don't get out much, so I'm up close to my reality. When I go out and play, I see and feel that I'm drawing people into my world. And when you write with your heart, you're probably going to find someone else who shares what you're feeling."