There is no need to look any further than Shannon Hawley if you are looking for a singer-songwriter who can provide music that satisfies your innermost needs.
Not only is her music easy on the ears, but it can also be used as a therapeutic tool for the person who is listening to it.
Songwriting has served as Hawley’s primary form of therapeutic treatment for many years, and she continues to rely on it. She places her faith in the fact that the words will present themselves to her and that her voice will accurately convey them.
Her music is a profound investigation into what it means to be human, and she draws inspiration for this investigation from her troubled family history. But what is truly incredible about her is the way in which she is able to convey the message despite the high stakes involved. This reflects the development and transformation that she has undergone in her own life.
One of Hawley’s songs titled “Mercy” is an outstanding illustration of her body of work. Although it does not sound like a song by Bruce Springsteen, it has the same level of complexity and catchiness as some of his best songs. This song is so skillfully crafted that it has the ability to hypnotise a small audience while simultaneously energising an entire stadium.
Hawley is not someone who shrinks away from confronting challenging topics in her artwork because she is an artist. The song “Mercy” is a great illustration of this, as it delves deeply into the life experiences of the author’s ancestors, particularly the suffering that comes with the premature death of a loved one.
It fills us with anticipation to learn more about Shannon Hawley’s musical career and her plans for the future.
Come engage in a stimulating conversation with us about her life and the art she creates. What you find out is going to blow your mind, that much is certain.
What drew you to music production in the first place?
I’ve always loved music and art and have used the written word as an important part of alchemizing whatever life has presented to me.
Both of my parents had lost their voices due to two different types of cancer (my father due to a malignant brain tumour died when he was 42 years old and my mother lost her voice before she survived stage-three throat cancer).
Even though I am sensitive and prefer to listen I know the importance of using my voice and the power of singing these songs is incredibly healing.
What or whom do you go to for inspiration or motivation?
For inspiration, I go to the poets, artists, and musicians who have transmuted their grief and pain into something beautiful and to those who pay attention to the mysteries and miracles of being alive.
Mary Oliver, Tagore, Rumi, Rilke and Patti Smith were inspirations for my last album. This album STARTHROWERS was inspired by my own ancestors, women, and caretakers who have done the important and often overlooked task of love and caretaking.
Women memoirists, Cheryl Strayed, Glennon Doyle, Joan Didion, Elizabeth Alexander, Maya Angelou, Adrienne Maree Brown, Lidia Yuknavitch, Maria Popova, Angela Palm, Jen Pastiloff, and Eve Ensler to name a few. The title of the album is named after a beautiful essay by Loren Eiseley called “The Starthrower”.
What are some of the obstacles you encounter in your career?
Obstacles of being a woman, mother, and sensitive human being in this fast-paced overwhelming world are plenty but I continue to focus on this work as a prayer and offering of gratitude to STARTHROWERS, artists, and caretakers. I prefer slow, I prefer quiet, and I prefer depth.
What distinguishes you as a creative individual?
This album STARTHROWERS is a memoir in song. I’ve written personal essays for each of the songs because the context gives them more power. You can read the essays Here and There.
What’s the significance of the current song or album in your life?
This song “Mercy” is sung from the perspective of my paternal grandmother, who I never got to meet and my father. My grandmother died when she was 24 years old on the beach in front of my father.
Her death was the heartbreak of his life. There must be glimpses of mercy and grace because those people stay with us and we can have a relationship with them and them with us for eternity as all-knowing, ageless spirits. We are not alone, ever.
We listen for them and they also listen for us and we can sing back and forth to each other. No one gets out of this physical life without pain, loss, and grief. We don’t get to know why we have to have our hearts broken sometimes again and again or why we suffer.
We do know that when there is profound loss and suffering – humans can come together for each other and show profound amounts of love and courage. Those are holy days.
We all need more than a little mercy and grace in this human life. We all are called to something; to be ourselves, to heal ourselves, to love ourselves, to connect to our truth and feel the connectedness of all things.
This is a grief song, which is to say, it is a praise song. A praise song for the experience of being alive at all. For moving through form, for knowing that we need each other, we need mercy, and for experiencing the grace of getting it. This is the second single on my album STARTHROWERS.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am completing the written personal essays for all the songs on STARTHROWERS. I am wondering if this project can be some kind of hybrid of a printed book, recording of the written essays and if I could tour these songs with the context of the essays.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
I guess to continue to follow my curiosity and delight and to seek out STARTHROWERS to connect to. To be inspired and to inspire.