Originally Published March 21, 2012 by Marcel Kors of The Daily Reporter
The Daily Respawn Proudly Presents: Shannin (Shining Rae) Watkins!
Shannin Watkins was Born in Magnolia, Arkansas on March 29th, 1984 She currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas (U.S.A)
Besides being a great Singer/Songwriter, Shannin worked four years as a Clinical Scientist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She loves Science, Writing, Art and Music.
As the Grand Prize winner in the Ourstage (MTV Partner) Artist Access Competition in July, Shining Rae’s hit song “Dreaming” has landed her an opportunity to perform live in NYC and meet music industry giant Bruce Tyler.
Her blend of acoustic, pop, and soul has made this Magnolia, AR native’s music stand out amongst artists across the nation.
After fans voted her song to #1, Rae was hand-picked by music industry experts as the recording artist deserving of the opportunity to “experience what so many strive for but so few accomplish in the music business,” according to Ourstage Magazine.
Bruce Tyler, former EVP of both Sony Music and Columbia Records, currently uses his expertise to advise some of the most influential artists and companies in the world.
As stated in Ourstage Magazine, “Shining Rae is about to join the ranks of artists privy to his highly sought after advice, including Beyonce, John Mayer, John Legend, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, The Fray and many more
- First off thank you for making time in your busy schedule to do this interview with us!
It means the world to me to be able to share my story with you and the beautiful people of the Netherlands and Europe. Thank you for this opportunity
- It is our pleasure Shannin! You are the 2011 Grand Prize winner of the Ourstage Artist Access Competition which partners with MTV. What has winning that contest brought you up to now?
Shing Rae Performing
Winning the Ourstage Artist Access Grand Prize has definitely helped boost my reputation as a professional singer, songwriter, and musician. After I performed live in New York City, New York for Bruce Tyler and Ourstage executives, I have gotten booked to perform more than ever before. As soon as I returned from NYC, my schedule went from about 1 or 2 performances per month to an average of 2 to 3 performances a week. I feel that winning the competition has given me a chance to show people that dreams can become reality with hard work, faith, and determination.
- Winning the Artist Access Grand Prize must have been quite the experience. Can you tell us, how did it affect your personal life?
I truly believe the opportunity that Ourstage provided with this Artist Access contest was a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to prove that it is possible to live the “impossible.” I know that ultimately it was the Divine will of God that put me in this fortunate position. It is so rare for any artist to meet someone from the executive level of Sony Music (one of the “Big 4” most powerful record companies in the world). Booking a gig in NYC was probably the most difficult goal I had ever attempted to reach in my music career. I did not take “no” for an answer and locked in a featured performance at The R Bar NYC on September 20, 2011. Afterwards, I pulled out my guitar at a nearby restaurant and gave the crowd and impromptu performance of my R&B single “Sugar.” I could see my mommie fighting back tears while singing along and Bruce watching me with a smile of approval. The crowd response was surreal. The entire experience was surreal. I had that gut feeling that this moment was sign of more great things to come. In my heart I feel like I went to NYC as virtually an unknown indie artist and magically transformed into “star.”
- You are supported and guided by Bruce Tyler, adviser for artists like; Beyoncé, John Mayer and many more famous performers. What is it like to be working with a man with that much experience and know-how?
Shining Rae with Bruce Tyler
Sometimes I still pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Bruce is amazingly humble, down-to-earth, and brilliant. I am so grateful for the time he has taken to give me insight into the reality of the music business and the encouragement to work hard and diligently to make more doors open in the future. Just knowing that the same man who has helped establish/advance the music careers of major recording artists also believes in my talent/passion for music has given me all the validation I needed as an artist. I feel confident that I can continue to work hard enough to earn a coveted placement on the roster of a major record label.
- When did you first start making and writing music?
Shannin and her Father
Actually, I started writing songs before I started playing any instruments. At age 10 I started writing poetry. Soon after I read my first notebook of poems to my talented daddy, he helped me turn my poems into songs. He taught me about song structure, phrasing, creating my own style, etc. Growing up in a household of parents that were songwriters/musicians provided me with ways to make the melodies in my head come to life. I started taking classical piano lessons at age 12 and played the flute throughout grade school. In college I taught myself how to play guitar. Learning to play several instruments fluently helped me develop a deep appreciation for melodic detail so that I could create multi-dimensional music.
- As a musician/performer/songwriter, you must have had a few role models you liked to live up to? According to an article in 2008′s Name It Magazine you look up to Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Anita Baker. Can you tell us your favorite song from each one of them?
I love to sing and listen to songs that touch my soul and remind me of how good love and happiness feel. My favorite “feel good” songs by Stevie, Mariah, and Anita are:
Knocks Me Off… -Stevie WonderHero-Mariah CareySweet Love-Anita Baker
Knocks Me Off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder
Earth Wind & Fire – That's the way of the world
I have to mention my favorite band “Earth, Wind, & Fire” because their music is rich with soul, immaculate musicianship, and a unique sound that no other band can match. “That’s the Way of the World” is my favorite song by this amazing band and my all-time favorite song of any artist or band.
- Where do you get your inspiration for your songs from?
My life experiences inspire all of my music. No matter how happy or sad the subject matter is, I always write lyrics that reflect a positive perspective and/or outcome of each musical story I tell.
- You recently performed in Little Rock and Hot Springs in Arkansas, how did it go and what were your highlights?
I recently performed as the opening act in the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase (20th Anniversary) in Little Rock, AR (Jan. 27, 2012) and at the Hot Springs Convention Center for The Arkansas State P.R.I.D.E. Conference (Feb. 20, 2012). The P.R.I.D.E. Youth Program is an International Organization that focuses the energy of young people who can create REAL Solutions to build a safe & drug-free world. Annually the Arkansas State Team Director and staff hold a conference for all Arkansas teams to attend educational workshop sand cool social events.
I was a former Arkansas State team member (dancer & vocalist) and National team vocalist in high school. I’ll never forget my 1st performance at the 2002 World Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. I performed for over 5,000 people and received a “standing ovation!” After that monumental day I knew I was born to sing professionally. I love giving my time to the P.R.I.D.E. organization to help inspire youth to dream big and aim for success.
- P.R.I.D.E sounds like a perfect program for you to participate in! What are your further goals concerning your music?
I want to make music that is timeless and resonates with people of all ages and all walks of life around the world. I love it when I hear a song that touches my soul and reminds me of a special event or chapter in my life. Naturally, I tend to create music that touches hearts, inspires, and triggers a sense of nostalgia for my fans.
- With which artists from today’s music scene would you like to collaborate?
#1 Stevie Wonder- He’s a musical genius and much of his music is like a soundtrack to my entire life. Working with multi-platinum recording artist India.Arie would be a “dream collaboration” for me. I finally had a chance to see her live in Baltimore a few years ago, and she blew me away. Her soulfully pure voice touched my heart. She’s always been an inspiration to me, and people often tell me that they can see her influence in my acoustic songs. I’d also love to work with RCA singer/songwriter Elle Varner. Elle reminds me of myself because of her witty/honest lyrics and musicianship. We are both multi-instrumentalists so it’d be awesome to see what type of much we could create together
- You use Twitter and Facebook (social media), what do you think is the power of these social media types in promotional aspects?
Social media has allowed me to extend my music to people all over the world. I started out promoting my first musical records with Myspace and Facebook about 7 years ago. I gained fans through these networks that still continue to follow and support my music. I remember my first digital EP sale was to a fan in Amsterdam. I soon realized how powerful internet marketing through social media was. Twitter, Facebook , and Youtube are my most interactive social media networks because I can connect instantly to my fans. Ourstage.com has definitely played the largest role in taking my music to the next level. This network provides a platform for talented artists to be rewarded with amazing career-changing opportunities and prizes while also helping artists build a fan base. Ourstage.com is a combination of all the greatest social media features in one. It’s amazing that I’m doing an interview with you in The Netherlands! Without social media this interview probably would not exist. Social media rocks!
- Where should people go when they want to listen to your music or see you perform?
My website www.ShiningRae.com will connect fans to “everything Shining Rae.” All of my EPs and singles are available on Itunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, E music, CD Baby, Napster, and more. I love performing live. I keep my official Youtube Channel updated with live stage performance footage as well as organic videos of me playing my guitar/piano and singing my favorite tunes. Please check out my Ourstage EPK (www.ourstage.com/shiningrae/epk) to view my event calendar and stay updated on my upcoming gigs. Spring and Summer will be full of live performances.
- You already won an important Contest that has lifted you up from the crowd, what is your next strategy for the future?
Fortunately, I am able to apply the invaluable advice I received from my mentor Bruce Tyler to my life and continue to promote my songs on mainstream radio while performing live as much as possible. I still believe in gaining fans by giving them great live performances. I have always wanted to perform in Amsterdam, so performing overseas is definitely my next goal.
- We sincerely wish you the best for the future and we are sure you will achieve all your goals. Thank you for this interview!
Thank you for sharing my music with the Netherlands. This is the first time I have done an interview for a (web)magazine outside of the United States! You have opened an awesome door of opportunity for me to show a beautiful part of the world who I am. As an independent artist I never dreamed a door like this could open. I am humbled and will be forever grateful.
The pleasure is ours Shannin, and we can’t wait to here a lot more music from you in the near future!
Naturally we have some of Shining Rae’s Music for you here at The Daily Respawn and some photo’s.
The photo’s taken from Stickyz in Little Rock, AR for the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcaseare are made by Brian Chilson.
The photo of Rae performing in the R-Bar for the Ourstage performance in New York City was taken by Kelli King.
You can purchase Shining Rae’s Music (including her hit single “Sugar”) through the following links by clicking the buttons:
The Daily Respawn presents: Shining Rae!
[Sources: All content in this interview is courtesy of their respected owners. Photo's by Brian Chilson, Kelli King and Shining Rae.]
The Daily Respawn would like to thank the following people:
Shannin Watkins, Joycelyn Watkins, Bruce Tyler, Colin Cohen, Brian Chilson and Kelli King for providing Press Footage and their contribution to this article.