“I think music is the food of the soul and can heal people in a lot of different ways…”
One of our youngest, brightest stars that we have interviewed, Chevel Shepherd is this week’s Swag Spotlight and we are thrilled to tell her story. As a child, Shepherd started singing when she was only two years old, following in the footsteps of her mother and sister who also loved to sing. When she was four, she learned “Fly Away” by Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood’s “Before He He Cheats”, using the latter to try and audition for a high school talent competition in her hometown of La Plata, New Mexico. The judges felt that song was was “inappropriate” she tells us and laughs as she explains she went on to sing “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella. She fell in love with country music from the very start of her life, listening to the greats with her parents like Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, and Merle Haggard. Ambitious from such a young age, Shepherd would wake up early on Friday mornings and go perform at radio stations before school.
She tells us that her upbringing in New Mexico was very “country”, she grew up on a 3-acre farm, barrel racing and raising horses. Growing up she loved to watch American Idol and was too young to audition for both Idol and The Voice until they changed their policies. “I would sit in front of the TV and watch the people singing, and I would tell my mom, ‘I could turn a chair,’ ” she recalls. She eventually saved up her money and went to audition for season 13 of The Voice in Las Vegas, unfortunately not making it past the open call. She was determined to follow her dreams as a singer and then something amazing happened: her mother received an email requested that Chevel, now 16 would audition for season 15. “It was a blessing really, I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity again,” she tells us.
Talk about timing, this time around Shepherd did turn those chairs, three, in fact, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, and Jennifer Hudson all hit their buttons for the young singer. Surprising even herself, she chose Kelly Clarkson as her coach instead of Blake Shelton. “it was a gut decision to pick Kelly and I feel like it was a great decision, shes helped me a lot, she knows a lot about pop and country music,” she tells us. Her sassy personality, remarkable vocals, and genuine charisma took her all the way to the end of the show where she ultimately took home the top prize.
Since winning the singing competition show, Shepherd has played live shows across the country, met some of her idols like Loretta Lynn and attended the ACM Awards with Kelly Clarkson. She has also loved being able to craft and perform her own songs. Earlier this year she recorded and released two songs, “Everybody’s Got A Story” which was written by some of Nashville’s best songwriters, Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally, and Brandy Clark and “Mama Got The Chair” which is a nod to George Strait’s number one hit, “The Chair”.
Both songs keep the traditional country roots that Shepherd has loved since she was a child. “I loved listening to the classic country sound, as I got older things started changing and the different genres were incorporated in the genre but I want to keep the traditional sound as long as I can,” she says. Looking into the future, she is dipping her toes in the acting world as well as playing more shows across the nation.
She may be young but her old soul and impeccable talent will certainly carry her far in her career.
“Everybody’s Got a Story” and “Mama Got The Chair” are now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
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