Music has always been the driving force of my life.
I grew up on the north side of the hard working, blue-collar city of Pittsburgh where some of my earliest memories were of my grandfather going to work in the steel mills and of my own father working all day and then going to night school to become an engineer. Even though my dad spent most of his time working and going to school; when he had the chance, he loved to play the guitar and still does. I remember fondly the sounds of my father playing guitar and my mother singing along to her favorite songs on the radio, it seems like she knew the words to every song.
While it was true that music filled my house and my heart, I grew up thinking “I have to go to school and then get a regular 9-5 job”; I always planned on working hard and supporting myself. Even though I loved to sing and I was taking violin lessons and getting pretty good, at some point I decided to focus on academics and quit playing music. It just never occurred to me that music could be a career. I went on to the University of Pittsburgh and then moved to Cleveland to attend law school but there was always that nagging feeling that something was missing.
Music kept creeping back into my life; first with a black Pearl drum kit that I learned to play in college and then a Fender acoustic guitar that was a law school graduation present from my family. When I was working as a public defender in eastern Kentucky, my family sent me a karaoke machine and Alesis Nano-verb as a present. I recorded myself singing covers and original songs and sent them off to record companies, producers and was even accepted to play at the Kentucky Opry from one of those tapes. The one thing that I realized about eastern Kentucky is that along with the poverty and crime there exists some of the most talented musicians and writers I’ve ever met to this day. I even played drums and sang in a very short-lived band with three guys and we used to practice in a remote holler across from a cow field.
Eventually, I did move back to Pittsburgh, working as an attorney but able to concentrate more on music. I started a band and have been playing regularly ever since. I’ve written songs for myself and other artists. I’ve opened for national acts, performed for the Pittsburgh Steelers, recorded voiceovers and jingles and I continue to perform to hundreds, if not thousands of people every week.
In addition to solo and duo shows where I play guitar and sing, I am the lead female vocalist for The Move Makers and Dancing Queen. I have also gone back to school and am currently studying guitar at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. I am also still a lawyer and practice criminal defense. One of my funniest moments on stage was having a former client yell to me from the audience “Shelley, you got me out of jail…thank you”.
Behind every song is a story…as my journey continues I’m thankful to share those experiences with the world through my music.
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