Shawnee Kilgore

Shawnee Kilgore

 Austin, Texas, USA
SoloFolkAmericana

There are two things this girl does best: finger pick and play your heart strings.

Biography

Shawnee Kilgore is an Austin, TX singer-songwriter living a crowd-funding fairy tale.

In 2014, Shawnee launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her fourth solo album, A Long and Precious Road. In her video message to potential backers, a tribute to Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, she held up a card that said "I'm learning to ask for help." This vulnerable and honest phrase struck a chord for one particular music fan perusing Kickstarter projects on his rare off time -- Joss Whedon. Whedon, one of Hollywood's most prominent directors (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The Avengers) loved Shawnee's music and her voice, and backed the project, taking the first step towards what would become the unlikeliest of creative partnerships. A few days later he emailed to say he couldn't get her song out of his head, and wondered if she would be interested in working on a co-write with him. After a mere four months they put out their song “Big Giant Me" as a single. “It was so clear that we were speaking the same language,” Joss said, “It's been a little bit magical.”

In October 2016 they released their long awaited collaboration EP, “Back to Eden.”

The record was recorded at Ocean Studios in Burbank, CA, and features an all-star crew of supporting musicians, including Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins on fiddle and backing vocals. Whedon wrote a large portion of the lyrics, and Kilgore wrote the majority of the music. “The songs are very personal,” says Whedon, when asked about the process. “It opened up a lot of stuff. It was actually a kind of painful experience to write some of this stuff down, as simple as it was.”

Shawnee would be the first to tell you that the boots you just complimented her on cost $3 at a thrift store. She'll give the real answer when you ask how she's doing and she's just had her heart broken. That's the honesty with which she speaks, writes, and lives. She sings to you about all the things you know—love, life, laughter and loss—but does so with such fiercely personal and poetic truth that you can't help finding, and understanding, your own world through hers.

“This just felt right,” Whedon said. “To speak in her voice and to find out the things we share and the things that are universal between two people who are at radically different places in both of their lives, and on the map — it’s really exciting for me.”

In June 2016 they shot a music video for the title track starring two beloved Whedon collaborators, Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins and Ashley Johnson. The video was shot by Jay Hunter ("Much Ado About Nothing") on two Alexa 65's, a cutting edge large format from Arri that until then had only been used on the highest end of big budgeted feature films, such as "The Revenant" and "Rogue One." The Back To Eden shoot marked the first micro-budgeted independent production to have ever used this camera, as well as Whedon’s music video debut. 

Shawnee moved from her hometown of Bellingham, WA to Austin, TX in 2010. Her most recent solo release, A Long and Precious Road, earned her a place among Texas Music Magazine’s albums of the year, as well as being named their #1 Songwriter of Distinction, an accolade shared by Kacey Musgraves and Leon Bridges. 

“Shawnee Kilgore is that rare breed of songwriter who can lead you through familiarity and somehow always end up with you somewhere surprising,” says longtime Austin songwriter Danny Schmidt. “Her songs are personal and intimate, snapshots of tiny images very close up, of little observations so familiar and yet so keen that they reconnect us to our every day while somehow managing to disconnect us from our everyday enough that we can notice the preciousness of what’s always surrounding us. It’s a hell of a nifty trick! Shawnee’s in my very highest category of songwriter: Those whose next song I can’t wait for them to write.”

Lyrics

Broken Anymore

Written By: Shawnee Kilgore

I will find the words one day
and they’ll be simple
and I smile when you say
Well now isn’t that from Kerouac
I said I’m happy that you know that
I said I’m happy

It’s time to live the life I’m given
time to give what I’ve been asking for
If I pretend that I’m not breaking
honey maybe I’m not breaking anymore
Maybe I’m not broken anymore

Once upon a time I sought light
in the darkness
I’d forgotten mine
I’d forgotten how to trust
that I’m in tune and I’m on time
and I’m happy

It’s time to live the life I’m given
time to give what I’ve been asking for
If I pretend that I’m not breaking
honey maybe I’m not breaking anymore
Maybe I’m not broken anymore

I will find the words one day

Screen Door

Written By: Shawnee Kilgore

I could tell you had a secret
I could tell you had a song
I could tell you wouldn’t keep it
through the night, into the dawn

Don’t stop a’rockin
Come come a’knockin
on the screen door after sundown
There’s an old moon rising
with stars in her eyes
and she can laugh ‘til the work is done now

Could it be that I was restless
Could it be I wasn’t well
I’ll be dancing in my best dress
and I will give the angels hell

So don’t stop a’rockin
just come come a’knockin
on the screen door after sundown
There’s an old moon rising
stars in her eyes
and she can laugh ‘til the work is done now

Something happens in the moonlight
Something happens in the dark
There never was a way to swoon right
It just depends upon the spark

Hey da da dey da

So you don’t stop a’rockin
just come come a’knockin
on the screen door after sundown
There’s an old moon rising
with stars in her eyes
and she can laugh ‘til the work
is done now

Hey da da dey da

So you don’t stop a’rockin
just come come a’knockin
on the screen door after sundown
There’s a new moon rising
with stars in her eyes
and she can laugh ‘til the work
is done now

hey da dey

Big Giant Me

Written By: Shawnee Kilgore,Joss Whedon

what if I wake up tomorrow
bigger than my bed
what if try standing and I
crack the ceiling with my head

what if I come over
and you open your front door
and find me looking in your bedroom
window on the second floor

would you laugh
would you scream
and pray it was a dream
or could you be
glad to see
big giant me

s'posing I keep growing till I
don't fit on my lawn
and move on up the mountainside with
only rocks for sleeping on

would you build me a bed
or stay in yours instead
could you be
glad to see
big giant me

I know you like your peace and quiet
I know pride goes before a fall
I know the villagers might riot
but I might try it
after all I might wake up much too tall

I could get chased out of town
'cause everyone's afraid
but I think I'd be gentle
and I know I'd help the tourist trade

so think about it
I'm not saying
I won't stay this size
I just know a thing keeps growing
up or else it up and dies

and I think
maybe you
could be a giant too
and you'd be
glad to see
how we'd live
enormously

you would be
glad to see
big giant me

My Devil Says To Me (Folk Star)

Written By: Shawnee Kilgore

when you gonna be a folk star
my devil says to me
'cause you can do it all for freedom
but you can't do it all for free
you got nothin' in your pockets
but a winded minor key
when you gonna be a folk star

when you gonna be a big girl
my devil says to me
you're old enough to know
it's your responsibility
but you're shy about the telephone
and you're shy about your dreams
when you gonna be a big girl

when you gonna be remembered
my devil says to me
you're singing them your songs
and then they're floating out to sea
are you holding something back
have you let them go to seed
when you gonna be remembered

why are you so happy
my devil says to me
I hurt you but you wouldn't ever
dare to set me free
I do my best to keep you
from the lap of luxury
so why are you so happy

I'm happy that I'm grateful
and I'm grateful that I'm kind
you've got your own free will my devil
just as sure as I've got mine
you can live the life you want
if you can love the life you find
I'm happy that I'm grateful

yeah but when you gonna be a folk star
my devil says to me
when you gonna be a folk star

Dragon Slayer

Written By: Shawnee Kilgore

catch my feathers as they fall
they’re bound to reach you after all
you heed the wind, I heed the call

call me patient, call me brave
come seek the treasures in my cave
I’m learning how to misbehave

tell me something, if you would
the tales a feather catcher could
it’s where I’ve loved, it’s where I’ve stood
it’s where I wait

leave your patience, leave your gold
leave your secrets safe untold
oh come with me the time has slowed

leave my petals ‘round your door
and leave my scratches on your floor
I know you better than before

tell me something, if you would
the tales a secret keeper could
it’s where I’ve loved, it’s where I’ve stood
it’s where I wait

backyard beauty six string player
late night duty dragon slayer
moving slowly takes a little time
counting streetlights guarding towers
bending breaking endless hours
just to know the only thing that's mine

backyard beauty six string player
late night duty dragon slayer
touch the flame the night delivers
breathing fire seething rivers
avalanches wind and weather
if we go we go together
second chances home fires burning
midnight harvest light returning

backyard beauty moonlit glances
fascinations circumstances
back to sleep and back to dreaming
back to songs instead of screaming
counting streetlights guarding towers
bending breaking endless hours 
just to know the only thing that’s mine

tell me something, if you would
the tales a dragon slayer could
it’s where I’ve loved, it’s where I’ve stood
it’s where I wait

Concordia, KS

Written By: Shawnee Kilgore

I never really thought that much of kansas
until I stopped for coffee in concordia that day
I was thinking life is only what it hands us
I forget about the things that happen when we look away

I’m leaving you the miles and the time
I’m leaving you for now but i’m not leaving you behind

I know a straight road back to kansas
I know a straight road back to knowing
just enough to get me by
I know a straight road back to kansas
back to kindness in a small town
and a twinkle in my eye

I never really asked about your family
I never really told you why the sleep just wouldn’t come
I wondered if your heart would understand me
how i knew i’d have to go before the gravity was done

I’m leaving you the miles and the time
and I’m leaving you for now but I’m not leaving you behind

I know a straight road back to kansas
I know a straight road back to knowing
just enough to get me high
I know a straight road back to kansas
back to kindness in a small town
and a twinkle in my eye

back to kindness in a small town in the sky

I’m leaving you the miles and the time
I’m leaving you the blessings of the fading highway signs
I’m leaving you the color of your wine

I know a straight road back to kansas
I know a straight road back to knowing
I will find you if i try
I know a straight road back to kansas
back to kindness in a small town
and a twinkle in my eye

I know a straight road back to kansas
I know a straight road back to knowing
that goodbye is just goodbye
I know a straight road back to kansas
back to kindness in a small town
a twinkle in my eye

back to kindness in a small town in the sky

I never really thought that much of kansas
until I stopped for coffee in concordia

Unforgiven

Written By: Shawnee Kilgore,Joss Whedon

I don’t need to be remembered
I don’t care if I’m believed
I’m not waiting in my cell
to be condemned or be reprieved
I was told I came out crooked
so I walked a crooked line
now the judgement may be final
but it’s mine

I will live unforgiven
I will rise among the brave
and I won’t ask for permission
to lie in my own grave
I will fly and I will fall
and I will live unforgiven

all the promises I’ve broken
all the hearts I couldn’t hold
all the truths I left unspoken
just to keep away the cold
now the wind is like a talon
and my skin is raked with grace
the grin I wear goes well beyond
my face

I will live unforgiven
I’m not hiding anymore
and if I built my own prison
I can damn well build a door
I will howl and I will sigh
and I will live unforgiven

there’s a poison I can’t swallow
a regret I can’t allow
our mistakes are never hollow
anyhow
I have made all my excuses
now I have to make my way
if you can’t take me that’s ok

I will live unforgiven
I will make my world mine
and I may not get to heaven
but it won’t keep me from trying
I will smile and I will storm
and I will live

I will live unforgiven
I will die among the brave
and I won’t ask for permission
to lie in my own grave
I will fly and I will crawl
and I will live
I will try and I will fall
and I will live unforgiven
after all

Discography

Set List

Come to Bed
Big Giant Me
Screen Door
A Long and Precious Road
The Littlest Lion
The Very Best of Me
The Sky and I
What is a Grown Up
Dragon Slayer

(Set Break)

Let That Songbird Go
I Made You a Promise
Concordia, KS
Blue Moon Shine
My Religion (Abraham)
Big Old Song
Thousand Miles
Drunk on June
My Devil Says to Me (Folk Star)

Encore~
Ships Are Meant to Sail