By Guest Blogger Shannon Ashley De Young, Fresno State
My day job is in the marketing world, but during my free time, I am a singer-songwriter. I enjoy writing and performing country/rock music in venues around central California. I’ve always enjoyed sharing my creative, energetic and passionate personality. To have the ability to make someone feel an emotion, good or bad, by listening to my music is the ultimate accomplishment as an artist.
Recently, I had the honor of working with Hollywood Immersive, a company that partnered with Los Angeles’ top vocal coach, Steven Memel, and developed a program for up-and-coming singer-songwriter artists, called Music Immersive. A total of 15 artists were accepted from around the world, including me, the only person from California! We moved into a Hollywood Hills home for one week and worked tirelessly with mentors from the music industry, like producers, managers, songwriters, sound engineers, personal trainers, stylists/wardrobe artists, and social media managers to get better insight into the music industry. These mentors work with artists like Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, Madonna, and more! We spent hours learning from each mentor with little to no time for rest—but that’s what the music industry is all about, so I relished every moment.
For four days, I worked on one original song. On the first day, I focused on lyrics with Robin Fredrick mentoring. Robin has written and produced hundreds of songs for television, music albums, musical theatre, and audio products. Later, Steven Memel gave instruction on how to show emotion while performing on stage. An intense and overpowering experience, I broke into tears—tears of realization. Steven said that many times he shows artists what their songs are about. While performing in a group with Steven— he stopped me—after every line. As he quizzed me on the meaning—realization dawned on me. As an artist I learned to be more aware of what I have written, to spend more time focusing on the lyrics, the story and the emotion in each song, because every song has a story at its heart.
After composing songs, we had the opportunity to perform them live at the Music Immersive Showcase at EastWest Recording Studios. EastWest Studios is where Frank Sinatra recorded, “My Way” and “Something Stupid,” and other performers like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, The Monkees and Elvis Presley recorded as well. It was an honor and fulfillment of a lifetime dream to perform one of my original songs on that very stage! If my experience had ended that night after the showcase, I would have been beyond content.
The professional band that helped us perform our songs learned each song in 15 minutes—on the day of our performance. The day after was spent in the recording studio. I recorded guitar and lead vocals for my original song, “Cheater” (which can be found on YouTube). A productive and exhilarating day - I couldn’t have done it without several trips to Starbucks!
Returning home from Hollywood, I took a few months to absorb the experience. It’s not every day that you spend time with Maroon 5’s manager, Madonna’s social media manager, or one of Jason Mraz’ sound engineers in his own home, testing microphones, recording clips and learning straight from the music industry’s best. It gave me a taste of my future.
A lesson that I will never forget from this experience is this: “To accomplish your dreams or your goals you need to ask yourself, 1.What do I want? 2. Is it attainable? and 3. Am I willing to pay the price?” And my answer: I know that I want to write, record and perform original songs. ROCK ON!