She will also appear on the acoustic guitar superstar’s upcoming debut on Peak Records. Last February, she performed with Chaquico at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. White and veteran saxman Greg Vail made guest appearances on her popular 2007 release Never My Love, and her 2008 holiday themed CD Almost That Time of the Year features White, Colionne, trumpet great Greg Adams and famed Special EFX guitarist Chieli Minucci. Even before the official release of Almost That Time..., the project’s high spirited title track was receiving airplay on the O.C. college jazz station KSBR, the rock station 101.3 KATY in Temecula and on Power 88 (KCEP 88.1), the big urban station in Las Vegas. Her expansion into the rock and urban markets with this breakthrough vocal tune builds on her enormous popularity in the jazz world via live solo performances at hotspots like Antonucci’s in Mission Viejo and the Temecula club The Merc, where she plays straight-ahead jazz.
She also has played venues like Anaheim’s House of Blues with the popular O.C. based Sade tribute band Taboo, with whom she also shot a TV pilot. While showcasing her talents on all four saxes (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone) and flute, her early 2007 album Steppin’ Up hinted at all of the diversity to come, with forays into pop, blues, funk, gospel, old school pop-soul and even more exotic influences like calypso, tango and bossa nova. She’s developed her world music chops further by doing workshops and playing with the Southern California based flamenco-global fusion band Incendio. “I never get tired of traveling and playing music for people in various settings,” Shannon says.
“Nothing is more fun than going on tour. When I was 15, I went to an arts high school and we did shows all around the country… Still, as much as I enjoy performing onstage and with different artists and groups, my first love is the studio. I love writing, recording and putting songs together. I get seriously depressed when I’m away from that environment too long.
It all goes back to my deep love of the creative process.” While continuing to developing her career as a solo artist and performer, she is also busy working on numerous extracurricular activities, writing and producing with pop/rock artists like emerging singer songwriter Tony Clements and writing and performing soundtrack and pop/contemporary music on her favorite new instrument, the piano. Like so many great jazz musicians, Shannon is also giving back by becoming a well known and top notch educator in her own right. She has performed and taught students at Blythe High School (near the California/Arizona border), Newhart Middle School in Mission Viejo and Serrano Intermediate School in Lake Forest, where she imparted her skills on sax, flute and oboe. “I don’t see teaching as just a way to make extra money while I pursue my other endeavors,” Shannon says. “I genuinely enjoy working with kids, and I see so much of myself in them.
It’s fun teaching them!” Shannon also designs and hosts teenjazz.com, the world’s largest website for young musicians. Growing up in Southern Orange County, Shannon Kennedy gravitated to the pop sounds of everyone from Tracy Chapman and Jewel to Donna Lewis and Duran Duran while trying out a variety of different instruments. At six, she picked up her first acoustic guitar and aspired to be the next Chapman or Jewel, then later, encouraged by her grandmother, started playing the piano. Kennedy also did backup vocals for local and school musical theatre presentations, and was leading the vocal choir by age 11 at her uncle’s church in San Diego. While always supportive, her parents Dave and Sherry were somewhat musically challenged, and early on, she says, they didn’t teach her the difference between trumpet and flute.
So in sixth grade, when her band teacher asked the class to write down the instrument she wanted to play, she wrote “flute,” fully expecting to be handed a trumpet. Disappointed, her first inclination was to play the flute backward, and she can still do that effortlessly to this day! When she got to high school, she still had her heart on playing the trumpet, but her local music store didn’t have any for sale; instead, she picked up the sax, took immediately to it and took over the first chair in the jazz band. Because her school was oriented towards the arts, her teachers were able to connect her and many of her bandmates to numerous paying gigs throughout Orange County, from restaurants and concerts to mall openings and Christmas shows as part of a big band or small combos. She did her first outside paying gig at a party in Malibu where Olivia Newton-John was a host. She released her first album, Angel Eyes, a few months after graduating high school in 2005; the album features an assorted mix of music from different genres recorded live in two days with many of her student friends.
A Rheuben Allen endorsee and Rico (reeds) Junior Artist, she also has endorsements with the Beechler mouthpiece company and the oboe reed company Marca. “These past few years,” she says, “as I’ve entered my twenties and have further developed my abilities as a composer, singer, producer and saxophonist, I feel like I’m finally beyond the whole ‘child prodigy’ tag, which means freedom from certain expectations but also the start of a lot of new ones. It’s great when major artists like Peter White, Nick Colionne and Chieli Minucci can see me as a young adult with something substantial to offer, and I’m excited that people in the music business are taking me more seriously as a player and musician. Everyone has certain expectations, and I am always able to exceed those by 500 percent. A lot of female musicians lose their identity trying to establish themselves, but I have a much clearer picture of who I am and where I’m going.
It’s exciting for me to have people pay me to do something I love this much. My goal is just to keep performing for more and more people and grow as a writer, producer and artist. I’m happy as long as I’m able to play." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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