Amanda Shaw

Amanda Shaw Biography

When Amanda Shaw takes the stage, the petite fiddler commands the attention of the audience with a poignant and rhythmic sound that only a Louisiana prodigy could deliver. At the transitional age of 19, Amanda Shaw is a powerful performer, composer, and arranger who has been touring nationally and internationally since she was eight years old. She has recorded three critically-acclaimed albums, won a Big Easy Award for Best Female Entertainer and has even had two feature roles in Disney movies. The New Orleans native is a pioneer of the new breed of young, roots-based musicians who have embraced both the traditional sounds of Louisiana and the pop sounds of the mainstream.

Like many prolific artists, Amanda was engaged in music from a very early age becoming a classically trained violinist who--at the age of eight--became the youngest soloist with the Baton Rouge Symphony. As her talent matured, so did her taste in music. Her parents nurtured her musical foundation by immersing their daughter in every diverse style that the universally recognized epicenter of music, New Orleans, has to offer. "I love how I can go anywhere in New Orleans and here an electric Jazz rift coming from one corner, and then a traditional Creole tune on the other," exclaims Shaw. The Delta Blues, Zydeco, Jazz, and Brass are just a sampling of Amanda’s musical influences.

However, it was the emotional and passionate rhythm of the Cajun fiddle that drew Amanda’s musical ear. Amanda counts Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Chrissie Hynde, and Bonnie Raitt as her primary influences. Not only for their strong vocals and powerful styles, but also because they broke new ground with their crossover success and successfully integrating the sound of their roots to the mainstream. Amanda has spent her youth implementing the same mission as her role models, becoming one of the leading Cajun fiddlers today. Her deep talent led to becoming one of the youngest headliners at music festivals not only throughout the country, but also the world!

Ms. Shaw is now ready to take the national stage with her fourth album, Good Southern Girl, and re-introduce herself to the industry as an adult. The album is the first to capture her effervescent spirit of a live performance, and showcase her ability to expand her musical repertoire. This can be mostly attributed to the record’s Producer Trina Shoemaker, the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, which she earned for Sheryl Crow’s acclaimed, The Globe Sessions. While recording in the New Orleans-based studio, the Music Shed, Trina pushed the songstress to previously unrealized heights, which is clearly translated in the tone and quality of the album.

"This album is so great because you can hear creative freedom radiate through every second of its 42 minutes. Not many artists, or record producers for that matter, are given the keys to the studio so to speak. Poorman Mayfield provided the resources and let Amanda and I collaborate from there," says Shoemaker.

They began by adhering to Amanda’s traditional track selection formula, which consists of original tunes, classic covers, as well as traditional fiddle-fare. Her talent for songwriting and composing shines in two of the four original songs, Good Southern Girl and Cruise. I love sharing my own songs with the world. I describe my title track, Good Southern Girl, as a tribute to what I value most: good music, good food, good life. The five classic covers range from a playful and bluesy rendition of Sam Cooke’s That’s It I Quit, to a rocking showcase of non-stop fiddling energy in Jefferson Starship’s Git Fiddler from their Red Octopus record. The album ends with Blues de la Frontier, one of the first traditional Cajun tunes that Amanda ever learned. A crowd favorite, it has a special place in Amanda’s heart as the song she can always call to and know that the energy is going to crank up a few notches. It is a fun and poetic bookend to this diverse, yet remarkably cohesive album.

Shaw was in elementary school when she made her national television debut on The Rosie O'Donnell Show. Her first two self-released albums, Little Black Dog and I’m Not a Bubblegum Pop Princess, have consistently been among the top ten best sellers at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where she has drawn record crowds since she was 10. Following roles in the Disney movies, Stuck in the Suburbs (2004) and Now You See It (2005), she was tapped for the title role in the hit series Hannah Montana. In a move that exemplifies the then young teen’s focus of an artist well beyond her years, Amanda Shaw took the road less traveled and declined. Rather than signing with Disney, she accepted an offer to join Rounder Records, the famous independent record label that has upheld their focus of celebrating roots music. Two years later her critically acclaimed third album, Pretty Runs Out, made its debut with Billboard Magazine listing it as one of their "Best Bets of 2008."

Good Southern Girl marks Amanda’s debut with Poorman Mayfield, the newly established record label by world-renowned jazz musician and fellow New Orleans native, Irvin Mayfield. The two stars share a similar passion that reaches past the bounds of their individual success. Mayfield proclaims, "With all of my pursuits, Jazz is the starting point. It is both the tool for my success, as well as the beneficiary of it. In much the same way, Cajun music is the foundation for all of Amanda’s work; it is her way to transform the listener's experience and to embark into her very own genre of music."

In 2009, Ms. Shaw was recognized as the Emerging Cultural Leader by the State of Louisiana. She takes her role as ambassador for her home state very seriously. "I bring New Orleans with me everywhere I go. All that I want is to live every day to the fullest and share my love of the city with the rest of the world." With the Spring 2010 release of Good Southern Girl, Shaw succeeds in translating the culture, vibrancies, and eclectic spirit of Louisiana to the rest of the world under the guise of a perfectly assembled 13-track set.

Amanda Shaw All Music Guide Biography

When New Orleans-based singer, songwriter, bandleader, and fiddle player Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys take the stage, it's an incongruous sight. Shaw turned 16 in 2007, but the boys in the band -- drummer Mike Barras, guitarist Brint Anderson, and bassist Ronnie Falgout -- are long-time vets. The youngest Cute Guy is 45, and they've been playing with Shaw since she was a ten-year-old prodigy. Shaw's a classically trained violinist who decided to play traditional Cajun dance music shortly after her debut performance with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. In the years since she started playing with the Cute Guys she's become a fixture at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Her third CD, I'm Not a Bubblegum Pop Princess, has sold enough copies to remain on the Festival's Top Ten list since 2003. Her eclectic taste -- the band plays traditional Cajun dance music, rock, country, and funk-flavored R&B -- has made her a favorite in her hometown and won her guest spots on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Emeril Live, and Univision's Sabado Gigante. She's also made three films, the most notable being the IMAX documentary Hurricane on the Bayou, a portrait of four New Orleans musicians (Tab Benoit, Allen Toussaint, and Chubby Carrier are the others) before and after Katrina. With her amazing chops, good looks, and surprisingly mature vocal style, Shaw was on the brink of a brilliant career at an age when most girls are only interested in cute guys of another kind. Amanda Shaw was born in Boston in 1991, but the family moved to New Orleans, where her father grew up while she was still a child. When she was three years old she saw a symphony orchestra on television and fell in love with the violin. She showed an immediate affinity for the instrument and had her concert debut with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra when she was seven, the youngest soloist to ever play with the orchestra. The Rosie O'Donnell Show contacted her parents shortly thereafter and she made two appearances on the show in 1999 and 2001. Living in New Orleans, Shaw was exposed to a wide variety of music. Her parents took her to see funk, soul, jazz, blues, zydeco, and Cajun music. By the time Shaw was nine she was ready to ditch her classical training and try fiddling. She began sitting in with jazz, blues, and Cajun bands and learned how to play by ear. By the time she was ten, Shaw was fronting her own band, later to be named the Cute Guys, as well as playing various solo and duo gigs. Her first album, Little Black Dog, consisted of traditional Cajun dance tunes played with fire and verve by the Cute Guys and Shaw. By the time Shaw cut I'm Not a Bubblegum Pop Princess in 2003, she was adding rock and country to her sound. The album was produced by the Cute Guys and featured covers of "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" by the Clash and the Ramones' (slightly rewritten) "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend." It was the success of Bubblegum that led to her deal with Rounder Records. Producer Scott Billington worked with Shaw and the Cute Guys for almost four years on Pretty Runs Out, her Rounder debut, honing her sound, selecting material, and setting up co-writing sessions with Jim McCormick, Shannon McNally, and Anders Osborne. In early 2007, to capitalize on her popularity at the Jazz and Heritage Festival, Rounder put out a limited-edition five-song EP and DVD, Home Again, which contained three tracks from Pretty Runs Out and two non-album tunes, "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Perrodin Two Step." Pretty Runs Out hit the streets in early January 2008, a solid 13-track set that shows off Shaw's fiddling chops as well as her winning way with country, pop, and roots rock material. ~ j. poet, Rovi


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