Ben Shannon is a Nashville born, Southwestern Pennsylvania based singer songwriter with a passion for good heartfelt songs. His aspiration as a writer is to write great songs that others want to sing.
Ben Shannon has no qualms scouring the current singer/songwriter repertoire and illuminating the cracks and crevices that haven’t yet been sung. His songs provide refreshing perspectives on old topics in a lovely voice with well-crafted, intelligent lyrics. Songs rooted in love, in loss, and redemption make each of his performances–full band or solo–a revelation.
Ben was a 2010 showcasing finalists in New York’s annual Songwriting Circle competition. That year he released his self titled EP and quickly followed up with a critically acclaimed, Triple A radio friendly, full-length studio album, Move On in May of 2011. In 2012 he was a showcasing finalist at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Colorado and a main stage performer at the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh. He is currently working on his next studio album for release in 2013.
Ben Shannon has a natural connection with audiences through his easy going nature and his deep seated compassion for the human condition. His voice is emotionally present and the big choruses and strong hooks of his songs are equally matched by his honesty and integrity as an artist.
“Judging by the likable and infectious arrangement of (lead-off track) ‘Break On Through’ which follows in the footsteps of the laid-back style of Jack Johnson, Shannon has a promising musical future ahead of him. The Nashville-born and Pittsburgh-raised singer-songwriter breaks on through in a big way with his full-length debut release “Move On.”
-Clint Rhodes, Music Editor – Herald Standard
“Check out Ben Shannon, one of the region’s emerging singer-songwriters.”Break On Through” is a Jason Mraz-meets-Citizen Cope-ish slice of plain-spoken pop. Another of Shannon’s songs, “Don’t Break My Momma’s Heart” sounds like Lyle Lovett at first, before taking a surprise dark turn.”
-Scott Tady, Entertainment Editor – Beaver County Times
“[Ben Shannon] takes on some heavy subjects in his debut release — local depopulation, family strife — but doesn’t let it weigh him down. The country-influenced pop singer is joined by an all-star local cast (David Throckmorton, Skip Sanders, Autumn Ayers, Paul Luc) on the recording. It’s Triple-A radio-friendly and an admirable first effort with occasional lyrical gold nuggets (“No one is cryin’/ That’s just water that’s tryin’/ To turn itself back into rain,” in “Ghost Town”, for example). The titular final track is the record’s real gem.”
-Andy Mulkerin, Music Editor – Pittsburgh City Paper
“… vivid lyrics — like ‘She hits you on your blind side/gets you so you’re tongue tied/Makes you watch her/while she serves your heart to you deep fried.’ It comes from “Break on Through,” the opening track from “Move On,” an easy-flowing folk-rock debut that highlights (Shannon’s) melodic vocals and a strong supporting cast. Just about every song on “Move On” comes with one of those gems.”
-Scott Mervis, Music Editor – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Ben is a spectacular songwriter, the cream of the roots, americana scene. Now, before you start thinking banjos, fiddles and songs about living on mountains… this is an amazingly intelligent, sophisticated, modern and hit laden artist that you will be hearing on radio for years to come…”
-Mark Dignam, Singer-Songwriter – Dublin/Pittsburgh
Most recently Ben Shannon was a finalist in the 2012 Planet Bluegrass Songwriter Showcase in Colorado and a finalist in the New York SongCircle 2010 Showcase. His songs are played on 91.3 WYEP, 102.5 WDVE, and FROGGY FM. He has performed on national stages including House of Blues Chicago IL, The Bluebird Nashville TN, The City Winery NY NY. As his 2011 release “Move On,” continues to garner local and regional attention, his second album is in production and expected to be released in 2013.
(In his own words)
Since I am new to this music business, I will start simple and work my way forward. My name is Ben Shannon. I am here to write songs, record them, and perform them. Thank you for being here and sharing my passion.
I am always writing a song. I have just finished my first of four albums. I perform all originals with a few covers that I’ve made my own. I gig solo as a singer and accompany myself on guitar, piano, and harmonica. I also do gigs with a full backing band of awesome musicians.
I was born in Nashville Tennessee and grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. My father gave me my first acoustic guitar and shortly thereafter, my mother gave me an electric. My first song was “Hey Mr.Tambourine Man.” Once I learned the chords, I started making my own songs with them. It wasn’t until I returned from a youth-mission trip to Russia during the summer of my 9th grade year, that I began writing in earnest. I think it was because writing was the only way I could express the scope of what I was going through. Ten years later I was smoking a cigarette and listenting to country radio when the song “Great Day To Be Alive” written by Darrel Scott came on the radio. Listening then I knew I wanted to write plain spoken songs that talked sense and had something to say. More and more my answer to the question, “What do you want to do in music?” was, “I want to write a song that everyone wants to sing.”
So I quit smoking set to work on the best damn record I’ve always wanted to hear. After years of fooling with recording equipment, bouncing around basements doing this and that piece by piece, I found myself a studio with some time, taste, talent, and top-notch gear on hand. Next thing I know money started flying through my hands and into the hands of very capable professionals. 16 songs tracked, 13 mixed, 11 on the album and I am officially a recording artist.
Some artists never show their work off and it isn’t noticed until after they are dead–I could easily be one of those people–writing song after song, demo after demo, and never seeking out an audience. Actually had a neighbor who shot roll after roll of film back when film was film and came on rolls. He had dresser drawers full of thousands of rolls of undeveloped film where he would write the date on a piece of tape and put it on the roll and throw it in the drawer. I just remember thinking “there has got to be a great shot or two in there somewhere, but if he found them, would that change the way he shot photos/alter his perspective?”
I have always worked and if I was unemployed I was looking for work. So I guess I come from “the world of work.” I’ve always wanted to drive to my own shows and buy my own food/drink. Just the way I am. I’ve worked with a chainsaw on a tree removal service, as a stock boy in a natural foods co-op, a cashier, a waiter, a janitor, a telemarketer, a tutor, a house painter, a circus hand, a gardener, a babysitter, as a caretaker of my grandmother, and most importantly as a student. God knows I was horrible at some of these jobs but doing them and trying them has left me full of stories and insight into human nature. Whatever you do don’t subscribe to the “either do art or get a job” fallacy… Life, art and the artistic life is what happens in between the “either” and the “or.” Cooking a meal inspires my music. Tilling soil brings me peace and inspires me to write. Work is so much different than a job. As a cashier I had to count money etc. but I found out that my actual work was connecting with people and finding inspirational moments with them. This approach to work has served me well and has inspired my art and deepened my connection with people, communities, and life in general. Some work was easy to walk away from to take the opportunities that I had to take in order to grow as a writer and a musician. Other work, like teaching, is leading me to have a deeper respect for my time because I now operate in a time economy of scarcity–I have the life of a New York corner store–stocked from floor to ceiling–every square foot of space and time is being utilized.