Congratulations Shanna, for being chosen as a WINNER in the 2020 Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Competition! Out of more than 700 entries, Shanna in a Dress was recognized among the top 6 winners in this elite contest

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


Looking for fun?

Latest News

2020 Career Review!! 


Let’s be honest here. Crappy things about 2020- global pandemic!  I was GOING to tour Europe, open for Red Molly on an east coast tour, and release my debut record this year. Those things did NOT happen. Also I wasn’t super consistent on my monthly songwriter study. The world came to a halt. But luckily, I didn’t and neither did YOU guys reading this, and I think it’s worth reflecting on all the good that came out of 2020! THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART OF THIS JOURNEY WITH ME! 

--Launched Patreon and now have 188 patrons on my team! Goal was 200 by the new year but HEY- 188 is still something to write home about! 

--Song contests really worked out! Kerrville New Folk winner, Emerging Artist at Falcon Ridge, Great River Folk Fest winner, and got into Songwriter Serenade! 

--Released live album! 

--Played a sold-out birthday show at Swallow Hill! 

--Developed a fun Fanna Pack merch pack! 

--Don White and Christine Lavin totally believe in me and invited me to play at their NYE show 

--Rich Warren invited me play Folkstage in Chicago in February 

--Focused on YouTube and have released 62 YouTube videos (some were livestreams and soundchecks though), including EVERY Wednesday without fail since June 10 

--Gained 780 YouTube subscribers and 2800 watch hours in the past year 

--Performed many livestream shows for tips and connected with new people (Neal B, Ken, Trung, Suzanne and Al, Allen, Kerrville finalists to name a few) 

--Folk Music Notebook listed my live album in their top 10 favorite albums alongside Tom Prasada Rao and Ellis Delaney and other people i love! 

--Filmed a professional music video to Boomerang with Scott Wilson 

--Did mini-tours in Florida, Utah, Texas (twice), the midwest (WI, KS, IL) 

--Went to Guatemala and connected with Project Somos and Antje and 15 wonderful people 

--Went to Folk Alliance in New Orleans and had breakfast with Steve Poltz. I love him.  

--Got to be a guest on Ellis Paul’s stream, guests on Don and Christine’s zoom concerts 

--Got to connect with Rod Abernathy and friends weekly- Kim Moberg, Suzie Vinnick, Kathy, Joel Simpson to name a few 

--Got to play a song in front of Dar williams (via a songwriting class) 

--Wrote 28 songs (some of which still need editing/memorizing): Honest, Naked, Whatcha Got to Say, Te Veo, Smoke under the Carpet, You are a Song, Wanna Go Out, Cry Happy, Guillotine, Treehouse, Red Lights, Boxing, Hand-Me-Down Human, Hindsight, Penmanship, Someday, Here Comes Autumn, In the Spaces, Toy with my Heart, Unlimited Time, Blindfold, Ticker-Tape Parade, Kool-aid, Christmas before Covid (w/ Neale Eckstein) 

--Wrote and delivered 4 custom-written songs for people (Bruce, Joe, Trudy, Shanna) (not me- a girl named Shah-na. I don’t hire myself to write songs for me) 

--Performed at South Florida Folk Fest, LoveBurn Miami 

--Co-wrote with Tom Prasada-Rao 

--Livestreamed with Alicia, Jan Seides, Grace, Aubryn, Faith & Daniel, Kim Moberg, had a number of guests on my stream (Alex Wong, Clint Alphin, Susan Cattaneo, Scott Hays, Aubryn) 

--Got invited to do a virtual NERFA showcase for 2021 

--Got invited to do On Your Radar radio show with John Platt 

--Connected with Molli and Ken’s Texas community and met Bill that way, who made me a video! 

--Got to hang with Sam Baker in Texas  

--Connected with Karl’s community 

--Got invited to do Real Women Real Songs 2021 (Terri Hendrix, Tracey Grammer, Ellis, Cary Cooper) 

--Got invited to perform for the Cambridge Folk Club (a virtual international gig!) 

--Gained a few songwriting/creativity students, which is my favorite thing to teach 


Other fun things: 

--Got to see my family for an extended visit and bond with my nieces! 

--Bestie Julia moved back to the states! 

--Connected a lot more with my college friends 

--My girl Taylor dropping 2 albums that she wrote during lockdown cause she’s a boss 

--Learned and still learning how to build an artist career when the heart of what you do and love (performing live) isn’t as available 



“Best” new song- I’m going to say either Wanna Go Out or Hand-Me-Down Human. Got a different vote? 

Best trip- Guatemala, for sure. I want to lead a trip there next chance I get!  

2021 is going to be ridiculous. I’m going to bike across the country and gather stories from all kinds of different people, write a song a WEEK due to the accountability of Real Women Real Songs, and then chase my dreams and move to Nashville in the fall! My hope is that if enough people join me on Patreon I’ll have enough financial support to make that really happen.  

The goal was 200 FannaShannas by Dec 31, 2020 and I’m at 188 now so all in all- 2020 has NOT BEEN TOO SHABBY. Thank you immensely for actually taking the time to read this if you’ve gotten this far. I feel so ridiculously lucky to be living the creative life I do and I can’t wait to step up my game for you guys. MWAH MWAH MWAH AND to everyone with me on Patreon We'll be doing a December Zoom Party on TUESDAY DEC 29 at 5:30 MST/7:30 EST and I can't wait to see your lovely faces and thank you in "real life!" Come join us! 

Love, Shanna in (it’s 27 degrees and snowing here in Boulder so I’m actually not wearing) a Dress

Real Talk 

Hi friends, time for some public journaling.

Yesterday was a rough day for me. I had gone to bed late, woken up late, missed a webinar, taught some piano/guitar/voice lessons virtually, then stayed in bed doing NOTHING for the rest of the day. I ordered food in and tried to think of what I could do to break the cycle of nothingness, but the inertia was too strong. I called a few friends to see if they wanted to hang out 6 feet apart, but didn't get any yeses. I didn't exercise, or brush my teeth, or read, or make music, or do any of the things that help me feel good.

I video chatted with some people and saw that they, too, were hitting a wall. Maybe there's some science to lack of socialization after this amount of time or maybe we're all PMS-ing, but I just craved human contact. Doing nothing for a day feels ok when there's someone to spend it with, but I was should-ing on myself all day and resisting everything I came up with.

The day before I had an amazing conversation with my friend Hope Dunbar about music dreams. I picked her brain on what she wish she had known a decade earlier in this seemingly glacial-growth of a folk music career. She told me, among many other gems, to give yourself permission to JUMP THE LINE, that you have already built all the skills, talent, and foundation to DESERVE big asks. Your hero artist is coming through? You deserve to open for them. To give yourself permission to go for your dream and not be one-foot in, one-foot out. She told me to write myself a letter from the Shanna who has accomplished her dreams- the Shanna who has co-written with Taylor Swift, and toured with Steve Poltz, and opened for Ingrid Michaelson. I started to write that letter, and it was inspiring, but also, the underlying thread of it was- hey, you've done great so far, now it's time to WORK HARDER.

...and then I did the exact opposite of that one day later. Ugh. But it's ok. Because this is a long haul, not a fast where if you broke the fast you ruined the objective. I'm back to life today, and I worked out and set my mind straight and I'm really looking forward to the Saturday Night LiveSTREAM show tonight to share music and feelings and be with people, albeit virtually. 

In Alanis's song "Hand in my Pocket" she talks about all these contradictions. "I'm scared, but I'm restless. I'm free, but I'm really gone. I'm broke, but I'm happy" And that's what I'm feeling right now. I'm not depressed. I'm happy. I love my life. I love that enough people believed in me to fund an album that I'm still working on, and that enough people believed in me to contribute to me every month and be a part of the club over at Patreon. There are so many people that have my back, but I'm still scared. I'm afraid of getting where I want to be on my own, without a team. I don't know how to critically listen to my album mixes because I don't have the language around what I wish I was hearing. I'm afraid if my musical dreams are always in MY hands then they'll be as scattered and unfocused as my brain is. I'm afraid there's so much that I can do that even a day of not taking a step forward means I don't have what it takes. I'm afraid people with money to pay for high-dollar publicists and videographers and social media experts and producers will hare-past me while I'm tortoise-ing along, trying to figure this out. I need help. 

Basically I'm scared to care too much. Life is so much easier when there aren't stakes. I'm happy where I am, but I don't want to be here forever. I think that's ok. If I were a better guitar player, singer, songwriter, businessperson, maybe then.... That's the funny push-and-pull of satisfaction and ambition. I don't want to rest on my laurels, but I don't want to be ungrateful for what I have, and think "I'll be happy when."  I have an amazing life and people that support me, but funny how that "I have to do this all alone" feeling can still be so prominent. Anyway, rant over. Thanks for listening. 


2019 BABY! 

Did you see my InstaStory demonstrating my hurricane-filled car that I’ve now fully cleaned and vacuumed (this happens once a year tops)? Have you seen the large pumpkin pie and pecan pie combo that I’ve annihilated (this happens a lot)? 

This is because I LOVE fresh slates. I love New Years and having an excuse to review and dream and evaluate the kind of life I’ve been living and how I’ll grow next. I love coming up with more ways to grow and don’t do the back-patting nearly enough as I should, so *drum roll please* here is your 2019 Recap! 

-- Played 104 shows 
-- first shows ever with a full band (Chad E. Mathis, Colin Robison, JJ Jones, Antonio Lopez, Pamela T. Machala, Kirsten Mathisen, Kari Clifton - you guys are amazing) 
-- First SOLD OUT headlining show 
-- 16 Weekly Wednesday FB live streams 
-- My first merch! Fun, soft t-shirts! 
-- Got drums, bass, and vocals tracked for my upcoming studio album 
-- Studied a new songwriter every month for my Song Study Project 
-- Had my highest paying gig of all time 
-- 3 Tours: Europe, Connecticut, and DC area 
-- Europe tour- 6 countries, 13 shows (Thanks Gregory Silvus for being the best travel buddy!) 
-- Successfully fundraised for the Guatemalan service trip in February (thank you!) 
-- 2 shows with one of my songwriting heroes, Steve Seskin 
-- Really affirming performances at Song School and NESR 
-- Showcased at Durango Songwriter's Expo w/ Tim Fagan and Caitlin Cannon 
-- Reconnected with people I love and sang backup for James Lee Baker at Swrfa Swrfa 
-- Snagged the sweetest mentor on the planet Laurie MacAllister 
-- Invested hardcore into my guitar playing (Molly Miller and Spencer Handley 
-- Wrote 22 new songs (Wanderlust, Puzzle, Jump!*, I Hope You Have a Great Day, Stagnant*, A Face Like Yours, Ooh bi da*, Punishment, Shitshow, Shelli, Highways on a Map, Jenga, When I’m Old*, Just Give Me a Minute, Bury the Truth*, You’re Gonna Break My Heart, Practice Room No. 8*, Goodbye to a Good Thing, Playing with Fire, Caroline*, A Fine Place to Be, Female Advantage) 
-- Did my first studio session as a session vocalist at Blue Rock Studios in TX 
-- won Honorable Mentions in the Folks Fest and Telluride Troubadour Song Contests 
-- Curated 13 Women in Song shows 
-- Played my first main stage festival slot at Black Bear Americana Fest and Casey Jones Music Fest 
-- Built up my private teaching to be on my own schedule 5 days of the week 
-- Started playing live music for CorePower Yoga 

Other fun things: 
-- My first big vacation with my best friends from childhood 
-- First time camp counselor-ing at Camp Oonie Koonie Cha 
-- Hosted my first student recitals 
-- Became an aunt for the second time! 

Most Unique Gig: Serenading theoretical physicists at their convention (Imagine Mm thats hot but swapping out the dad line with “i like it if you look like youre real good at math”) 
“Best” new song: I think my personal favorite is “A Face Like Yours”, inspired by JJ Jones 
Favorite Show: The live album gig at Elephant Hall w/ Sister Neapolitan was pretty special 

If I could do it from my music page, I would have tagged a million more people because my life would be nothing without the gobs of support I have from people like you that read and comment on my posts, respond to my newsletters, teach me a cool guitar lick, come to a show, tip me during my Weekly Wednesday streams, use their skills to make my music better, etc. etc. etc. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING. 

* this song isn’t actually edited and/or memorized to the level of being performable yet so maybe it shouldn’t count

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? :)