Ben Shannon – a Bio
Ben Shannon was born in Nashville Tennessee, the child of two social justice activist parents. He grew up in Pittsburgh to become a writer, a sponsored skateboarder, and a student of contemporary American poetry (BA Writing U of Pitt). Now, a teaching writer (MA Ed Duquesne U.) and father, Ben Shannon resides on the last farm in the city of Pittsburgh (Mildred's Daughter's Farm). Ben is co-founder of BurghSong, a songwriter listening room series featuring a local and a national pairing of writers; an award winning songwriter with two independent and self funded releases; winner of the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriter Showcase 2015; and finalist in the 2017 Kerrville Folk Festival New Song Showcase.
Ben Shannon writes and performs folk songs that attempt to speak to the human condition on a personal, global and emotional level. His lyrical range shows a command of melody and phrasing with rich rhythmic and technical detail while managing to sidestep the pitfall of head on predictability. He writes from the ethos of hip hop and poetry as a musical child of Hazel Dickens, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan. Ben Shannon is proudly based in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania--a region with more cultural kinship to West Virginia than Washington DC. The power of his songs stem from an acute awareness of the Appalachian region and a first hand experience of the multi-generational effects of a resource extraction economy. Ben Shannon writes from the landscape of these psychological, social, and geological ripple effects with a sense of urgency--as if the region and its people are a harbinger for the rest of the planet. Ben's songs are spiritually hopeful and come bearing narratives that challenge the devaluation of human life and the life of the planet.
Advocating for a "better world in birth" began as a life mission at 13 years old when he was given the first of several opportunities to serve as a cultural ambassador for the United States on international student delegations. This mission continues in his work as a teaching writer and a performing singer but with a spiritual focus. Ben Shannon sings with the belief that the spiritual experience of story and music are our best hope to inspire empathy and penetrate the ideological armor that needlessly divides so many people who hold so much in common.
His upcoming release, The Finalist is a collection of folk songs recorded in the span of two days in Woodstock NY and is due for release in the Fall of 2017. Ben tours nationally June-August with limited availability September-May.