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Shanna in a Dress combines witty, heartfelt songwriting with great musicianship guaranteed to deliver a memorable experience for anyone lucky enough to hear her. From the incredibly moving “Daddy’s Little Girl” to the super funny "Mmm That’s Hot” she hits home on every level taking her listeners on a delightful roller coaster ride of laughter, tears and everything in between.”

— Steve Seskin, Grammy-nominated songwriter


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2018 RECAP! 

It's super easy for me to to keep performing year after year and feel like I haven't accomplished anything or moved forward in the year. SO in the spirit of gratitude, here are some musical highlights from 2018.

In 2018, I:

  • Did my first European tour and played shows in 4 different countries 
  • Curated 14 successful Women in Song shows (2 in Allenspark) 
  • Had my highest paying gig of all time 
  • Got to play Walnut Room and eTown, which were goals of mine 
  • Successfully crowdfunded over 200% of my goal for an album with 300+ backers (this one is huge!!!)
  • Attended SWRFA, FAI, and Song School, and part of DSE 
  • Started recording 2 bonus tracks with Sawyer and Kyle 
  • Became full(ish) time guitar, piano, voice, horn, songwriting teacher as opposed to nannying. Instead of 5 private students, I have 11 (about to be 13)  + 12 studio students. That’s 33 students 
  • Tried out for the Denver Pops Orchestra and got in (playing French horn)
  • Played 92 shows
  • Sang solo in 4 non-traditional shows with classic repertoire that stretched my range beyond my originals 
  • Wrote 10 songs (Mundane Love, 20 hrs in Prague, Talented Children, Mirror Mirror, Daddy's Little Girl, Finite, the 2 songs from song school, How Lucky (Gator's song), and the Xmas song for Hannah)
  • Gained 756 mailing list subscribers
  • Acquired about 600 followers of my FB page
  • Finished recording 1 full track for my upcoming album
  • Found a voice teacher I'm learning a lot from and explored my voice even further


In 2019, I'm shifting my focus toward higher quality shows (listening rooms, corporate events, colleges, weddings), finishing the album and promoting it properly, and investing more into marketing and promotional costs. I've always been really freaked out about spending money toward things I know would help me (a nicer speaker system, having a marketing budget AT ALL, hiring potential team members) and I'm going to be less stingy this year and be willing to invest in my career. So many other people have invested into me when I did the Kickstarter, and by coming out and supporting me at my shows monetarily and otherwise, and I need to show the same trust in myself. 

2019 will be for sharing more, taking more risks, and collaborating more and more. Even though I want to get better at the business side of things, as long as I keep getting better at writing, singing, and playing, that will always come first. Stay tuned for a new post about my 2019 Songwriter Study! 


Thanks for caring enough to read this, for helping to keep me accountable, and for rooting for me! 2019 SHANNA IS GONNA BE A FORCE. 


What I Learned in London 


  • I dig the escalator culture in London. People actually stand on the right and let people pass on the left, unlike in America where everyone walks to the highest stair then stops and blocks both sides and you have to be like "Excuse me... excuse me"
  • I think I have a good British accent, but I'm apparently very wrong. I sound "too posh. like the Queen. No one actually sounds like that."
  • The Tube gets WAY HOT at rush hour.
  • Most street performers make the same jokes.
  • Brazilian steakhouses are way fun.
  • I keep thinking the cab driver has someone with him in the passenger seat.... oh wait. That IS the driver.
  • People don't talk to each other. Even on my AM run around the neighborhood, I never got a "hello." I'm not in Colorado anymore!
  • While giving a house concert, me and the host logged into a (NOT DIRTY) chat website, and I performed for and met a Czech singer, Belgian guitar player, Indian man, and Oregonian. 
  • If it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't have had my house concert there, from a friendship formed 5 years ago who ended up following me on YouTube.
  • I felt like the women were tall
  • Buses to the airport can be 30 minutes late, and the airport employee that helped me was UNUSUALLY NICE AND HELPFUL when I didn't even know that I was 10 minutes from being too late to check into my flight.
  • People actually use Twitter, and as a small business, I need one
  • Contactless credit cards are popular, so people REALLY don't carry cash for tipping
  • Made a connection to play a house party in London next year!
  • People I'm friends with actually eat at McDonalds (wow that sounded pretentious)
  • Bathrooms are crazy small
  • My accent got described by someone as "a little twang but not too much" and that they "actually liked the American accent" (unpopular opinion, apparently)
  • European flights are SO much more hospitable than American ones, and cheaper, and they fed me like a king on the international flight back. I even had salted caramel cheesecake. And ice cream. 

What the Kickstarter Has Taught This Stingy Girl 

I have lived my entire life being very very stingy. I remember going to the grocery store with my dad and learning to pick the products with the cheapest unit price and the generic knockoff brands.

All of my peers were broke during college, but then after college when my friends were getting salaries and benefits, I stuck around Charlottesville and nannied and waitressed while seeing what would come of this "singer-songwriter thing." I gave myself 2 years, telling myself I loved Charlottesville too much and if I didn't make myself move I'd end up living in one place my whole life and I wanted more experience in the world. 

So after 2 years and a cross-country bike trip with Bike & Build, Boulder was calling to me as my next place to live (or Portland...those food trucks :).... but I had relatives in CO) and I packed up my things into my swirly-painted car and drove out here. 

Now I live in a mobile home with 3 roommates. I don't eat out much, or even buy groceries. I clean at the yoga studio to be able to afford it and buy all of my clothes secondhand. I have a huge crack in my guitar that I gig with and after having it quoted at $200 to fix it, I just decided to keep playing it with the crack in it. 

I've chosen everything about my life, I live within my means, and my lifestyle affords me the flexibility and freedom to be pursuing what I really want to do. But I still feel like a loser sometimes, as I can tell because it shows up in lyrics in my songs. Equating success and money is still a thing for people, even when by all other measures of success, I'm very successful. I'm happy, free, love what I'm doing, and have the best friends and family supporting what I'm up to. 

The worst part about not making much is I've let it impact how much I financially give to others. I'll show up to potlucks empty-handed, not give birthday or Xmas presents, even not tip the musicians at shows, which is really embarrassing. I don't ever pay more than my share at a shared meal or ticketed event. I love off of the generosity of others and haven't been putting mine back in the pot. I even didn't donate to Kickstarters my friends have had when I totally love them and believe in their dreams. (If you're reading this and you're one of those people, I'm sorry and would love to donate now if that's cool with you)  

So far in this Kickstarter campaign, some people I did expect to donate have, some people I expected to donate haven't, and a LOT of people I didn't expect to donate have. But being the recipient of SO much love and kindness through a mode that to me is so sacrificial is really changing my heart about the energy of money. 

I've felt compelled to donate to those FB fundraisers that show up in the feed. I'm treating my friends to lunch. I gave 50 bucks to someone because I randomly felt like they needed it. And 20 bucks. And tipped at shows where I didn't even see the musician play. I can feel my stingy self loosening up a bit and I finally understand why giving gives the giver just as much, if not more, than the receiver. 

If I don't make my stretch goal of 20k for this campaign, which doesn't look like it's going to happen, I'm still going to make a great album because of the kindness from others. But if I live the rest of my life remembering this lesson, then this Kickstarter is really life-changing for reasons far beyond this music project. 

To everyone who has cheered me on, backed the Kickstarter, shared it with others, or offered help and ideas, thank you so much for showing this stingy girl a much-needed change of heart.

I didn't eat for 3 days and I did it on purpose 

I have a song called Food Baby. I saw a counselor in college for my binge eating disorder (like bulimia, but no throwing up, cause throwing up is gross). The first thing I do when entering ANYONE’S home is look in the fridge. And usually eat something from it...

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say I do not and have not (in my adult life) ever been able to control myself around food. It is my favorite thing. When I hear things like “Oh I better not, I already had a cookie today” out of other people’s mouths, my first reaction is to think “What? I have like 5 cookies. Every day.” 

Then I started reading “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss. It’s a huge collection of life hacks from top performers in their field, beautifully arranged into a Cliffnotes version of the best parts of each interview he’s had with them. And in reading it, I got intrigued by the idea of fasting. 

A few times a year, Tim Ferriss does a 3-day fast from Thursday night to Sunday night and he outlines how he does it. Apparently there’s a lot of data to support that fasting is preventative of cancer, great for killing free radicals and aging/longevity in general, and gives your immune system a fantastic boost. Here’s an article about that last claim: 

But it’s not like I believe everything I read and try anything that claims to be healthy. (Although I do believe a LOT of what Tim Ferriss practices, because he’s such a devout self-experimenter) I’m pretty happy with my weight so I wasn’t motivated to lose weight, and I find it really hard to alter my sugar-filled diet when it’s not showing up on my bod. What actually inspired me to do it, was wanting to know if I could. Could I do something so completely opposite of how I’ve behaved around food for the last decade? Also, I have been lucky enough to never really know physical pain or discomfort. Even though it wouldn’t be the same as my friend’s journey with chronic illness, I wanted some level of experience with discomfort so I could better empathize with people who live like that all the time. I find myself with the judgmental thoughts, “If you just had a better attitude about it, it would probably be way less crippling,” while recognizing that I’d never been in that place so I really couldn’t say a word about it. 

I read the book on a Wednesday, realized that doing a 72-hour fast from Thursday night to Sunday night would suit my work and social schedule well, and decided if I waited another week to research and prepare and perfectly stock my shelves with the perfect health foods to reintroduce when I started eating again, I probably would lose interest by then. So I just committed and I did it. 

6 years ago I biked across the country w/ a big group of people through an organization called Bike and Build. You’re supposed to train beforehand so your body can handle 60-70 miles a day on a bike, for about 6 days/week, for 10 weeks. I didn’t train. I remember telling myself, “My body isn’t ready for this, so I need to be extra mentally tough.” And I little-engine-that-coulded myself up every hill, and at the end of every ride, told myself, “that wasn’t so bad.” My memory of biking across the country now is that it was easy and anyone could do it. It wasn’t easy. But my brainwashing was powerful enough that it was. 

That’s what I brought to this fast. I had lunch with my friend Sam on the first day, and I told Sam not to feel guilty eating in front of me, because I was committed and wouldn’t be tempted. I let myself actually go into a grocery store to buy MCT oil, which I was allowed to have 3-4 Tbsp of per day of the fast. It’s the only time I’ve ever gone in a grocery store, gone directly to the aisle of what I needed, and left without any wandering eyes. I carried water with me everywhere and peed more than I’ve ever peed before. 

The second day I felt tired, and uninterested in exercising, so I let myself skip it. My roommate and biggest fan Jay, who always comes to my gigs and tips me in cookies, gave me 3. I put them on a shelf in my room (not even hidden away in a cupboard… I was cocky) and let myself look at them every day until the fast was over. One or two times I had the thought “If I ate one, no would know.” But I held true. 

The third day I felt WEIRD. I felt unstable standing, preferred to sit, and felt like I was having an out of body experience. I didn’t really feel hungry anymore, and I felt what I guess was my first experience with brain fog. I was hoping my body would be in ketosis and I’d feel like Superman. I didn’t. I felt “tired drunk” and it didn’t help that I hadn’t been able to fall asleep for very long the night before, which I usually never have a problem with. I called my chiropractor brother, who has plenty of experience fasting, on the phone and told him how weird I felt. He told me, “You know there’s no magic that happens after 72 hours compared to 64. Listen to your body. Eat something.” In my mind he’s an expert, so it took something to hear the expert tell me to eat, and still say- no, I’m going to see this thing through. 

I found it easier to manage when I was with other people and distracted. I even performed in this state and didn’t feel affected at all. At 7:30 pm, exactly 72 hours from my last bite on Thursday, I had already decided I was gonna eat whatever I wanted instead of my initial plan to then plunge into a ketogenic diet. I had 2 huge slices of pizza, 3 cookies, quiche, and an almond croissant. Likely not the best choices to bring my digestive system back from vacation, but it forgave me. 

I didn’t feel like Superman during the fast, but it came after. I spend so much of my life in my comfort zone, when I really care about stepping out of it. So many people said to me while I was fasting, “I could never do that.” Which is probably what I would have said to someone I encountered doing the same thing… before I did it. 

It was just an awesome reminder that you don’t have to be limited by what you think you are. If I could apply this lesson and discipline to all the music business stuff that I dread doing, I’d be unstoppable. Now I plan on doing this 72-hour fast at the beginning of every season change. Join me next time to welcome in summer, anybody? :)