Monday, June 8, 2009
Tiffany Shea probably wrote her first song inside her mother’s womb. It seems as if just seconds after birth she had booked her first show. I’m pretty sure that she got her first standing ovation from the visitors looking at her in the hospital. You see, Tiffany is more than your flavor of the week artist. In an industry of manufactured artists, she is definitely a breath of fresh air. She has the personality to win over the most unruly crowd and the spunk and determination to make her dreams come true.
Tiffany last stormed through Greensboro in 2004 when she played the SWET. "You know, I think that it was one of the coolest club shows that I have ever done. All of the kids were really close to the stage and they were really listening intently to what I was expressing. It was kind of like pouring a glass of water. As opposed to pouring it out all over the floor, each kid there was a glass and they were full of the water that I poured out by the end of my set. They really absorbed it and took it all in. It was really cool," said Tiffany in a phone interview we recently conducted.
Tiffany is not a stranger to the music scene as I soon learned. She has been performing since 1997, first solo and then with her band in November of that same year. She has released an amazing 13, yes 13, CDs in that amount of time. I think the only artist to put out more CDs on that time frame would be Tupac, but he doesn’t count since he’s not touring anymore.
She was born into a musical family with her dad being a drummer and her mom was a piano teacher. She then moved to singing in church and later community theater. Her love for the arts also extends to art and her love of painting. "When I was 19 years old, I went to see Sister 7 who were out of Austin, Texas. They were a power, passion funk/rock band. I knew the minute that I saw them perform that was what I wanted to do with my life. It’s kind of funny, Patrice Pike was in that band at the time and she and I will be touring together later this summer."
Tiffany’s sound, both vocally and musically is very unique. Imagine taking the over the top personality of Cyndi Lauper, add a little Pat Benatar, a touch of Tori Amos and sprinkle in some Ani DiFranco and put them all in a blender and process them and you get a touch of what this women is capable of. If someone were deaf and she had to paint a canvas to describe her sound to them, how would she do it? "Wow, that’s an amazing question. Well, you know I love to paint. I think all of my art is an extension of who I am. I think the canvas would have lots of bold colors and it would be multimedia with tons of textures so that they could touch it and feel all the differences. It would be abstract yet evoking a feeling that’s universal at the same time. My music is raw, human emotion. I think I capture that where it’s not cryptic or so black and white that it’s boring." I can say for certain, that boring is one word that has never been used to describe this young lady.
The music industry has been in such turmoil the last few years and yet Tiffany is determined to keep marching on just as she has done for over ten years now. I was curious as to what keeps her going? " I have been doing this since 1997. I have funded all but two of my CD releases, they were on independent labels. In the summer of 2005, I had a major career letdown and I crashed and burned. I was burnt out! I mean, I had been doing all of this by myself: I booked my own shows, I was my own graphic designer, I was funding my CDs, it just got to be too much on me. I just walked away from it and tried to figure out what it was that I wanted to do. I tried working in a office and quickly found out that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I went to audio engineer school and I constantly found myself wanting to be on the other side of the glass. I went to art school and I was constantly drawing about music. The songs just kept coming into my head and I had to get them out. It’s then that I figured out that, music, it’s not what I do, it’s who I am. It’s my gift and I have to be diligent with it."
Her 2003 release "Phoenix" garnered her praise from all over and numerous awards. What was it about that CD that registered with people? "I think it was the first album that really captured the sound and the feeling of me. It was also super high quality. We really took out time and we wanted it to be right and not just do it to do it, you know what I mean? The power of the music on that CD really did shine. Actually we just re-released a new version called ‘Phoenix II’ this year. It’s been re mixed and edited. There are a few songs that were left off from the original release and some stuff added to it. It’s like ‘Phoenix’ on steroids!"
On a personal note, do you have any guilty pleasures that you can share with your fans. Well, as long as they are printable? "Ha ha! If they’re not printable, I think I will keep those to myself. I guess my one big one right now would be chocolate chip ice cream....I sure am glad you didn’t ask me that question ten years ago!"
One more question as a more fun one for your fans. I always ask everyone that I interview this one. If you were trapped on a desert island and could only have one CD, it has to be a store bought CD, what would you want to have with you? "Oh that’s easy, it would have to be U2 ‘The Joshua Tree’, without a doubt. There are other favorites that I would also love to take such as Tori Amos ‘From the Choirgirl Hotel’ or Heart’s ‘Greatest Hits’ with their eighties stuff on it or Sting ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’."
Again, Tiffany’s performance at the Somewhere Else Tavern is on Saturday, June 6 at 8:00 PM. If you have never seen her perform live, this will be a treat for all. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take us five more years to get her to come back and visit.