The one-time “American Idol” contestant headlined a benefit in her hometown of Portland to aid tornado victims this summer. The teen also plays the Ionia Country Jam on Aug. 29. (Story, video, podcast)
THE ARTIST: Shelby Ann-Marie
THE MUSIC: Country
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HER: 3:05 p.m. Saturday at the Ionia Country Jam at Ionia Free Fair Grounds (complete schedule below)
Shelby Ann-Marie may be a small-town girl from Portland, Mich., with a sweet disposition and a kind heart, but the petite country singer already has a big resume as performer – making the top 75 on “American Idol” two years ago and opening shows for stars Craig Morgan, Chase Rice and The Band Perry.
Buoyed by her striking voice, the 17-year-old boasts a confident stage presence that belies her years, something Shelby aptly demonstrated last summer when she took the stage in front of 7,000 exuberant fans at Morgan’s Fifth Third Ballpark concert.
“That was the first really big show. It was really the moment where I felt at home. I felt good,” Shelby recalls. “I’m always at home on stage. That’s really where I can just be who I am and share what I want to share with everyone. That was a really big moment for me to be able to share with so many people.”
Of course, Shelby, who graduated earlier this year from Portland St. Patrick Catholic School, already is a star in her hometown of 3,900, but the attention she’s received as a teenager clearly portends much bigger things for the singer who’s taking a year off to pursue her musical interests before attending college.
But this is not some stardom-blinded teen seeking fame and adulation.
“I really just want to reach out to as many people as I can. I’m really open to the future and whatever that brings,” she says forthrightly. “I’m blessed with a lot of opportunities right now, so hopefully that just continues and I can reach out to more people and help them through music. Music has always been there for me and been something that’s gotten me through a lot of things.”
Earlier this summer Shelby headlined the Portland Strong Benefit Concert in her hometown to raise money for the Portland Disaster Relief Fund, established to assist those devastated by a June tornado that swept through Portland.
The concert at the Portland High School football field also featured the Bear Creek Brothers, Three Men and a Tenor, Max Boyle, Jamie Miller and Patrick Dawdy. Shelby will be backed by The Royal Ramblers, a popular Portland band with whom she frequently performs.
“The destruction was just unbelievable,” Shelby says of the EF-1 tornado that damaged buildings, churches and dozens of homes. “You never think it’s going to happen to your hometown. The first thing we wanted to do was put on this benefit.
“We were blessed to have so many sponsors that made it possible and so many people behind us just wanting to contribute to the cause, so hopefully, we get a good crowd out there to support the community.”
On Sat. Aug. 29, she’ll perform during the Ionia Country Jam at the Ionia Free Fair Grounds, a star-studded benefit headlined by Trace Adkins, with Steve Azar, Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys, Kari Lynch, Steve Rivers and Jesse Galchick also on the bill. Get tickets, $25, and more information online at ioniacountryjam.com. Proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Here’s the Ionia Country Jam performance schedule: 3:05 p.m. Shelby Ann-Marie, 3:55 p.m. Steve Rivers, 5 p.m. Kari Lynch, 6:10 p.m. Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys, 7:30 p.m. Steve Azar, 9 p.m. Trace Adkins.
Shelby’s passion to help others is matched only by her passion for music, especially in the country genre, where Carrie Underwood has been a major inspiration.
“Country music really spoke to me just because of the lyrics. You can feel the heart in the country songs,” says Shelby, who’s been writing her own tunes and has “notebooks full at home” with ideas for new material.
“I think music can reach people in different ways and so it kind of just depends on what you want to put forth. But I think country music is where I feel most at home because you can just get really into the lyrics and the meaning behind it.”
PODCAST: Shelby Ann-Marie on Local Spins Live
The singer delivered some country lyrics of her own during this week’s Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW), performing an original song, “You and Me,” accompanied by guitarist Doug Fritch. Listen to a podcast of the show here, with a video of her performance below.
Shelby’s musical journey really got a kick-start at age 15 during Season 13 of TV’s “American Idol,” when she ascended the ranks and made it to “Hollywood Week,” one of the coveted spots sought by contestants.
“It was crazy from the very start,” says Shelby, who concedes that until then, she was “really just singing in church and doing the National Anthem” at various events around Portland. “I was one of the youngest in the competition for the season. Being able to experience all the new things and work with a band and with different vocalists harmonizing, that was all new to me. … That was just an eye-opening experience.”
Since then, she’s been writing songs — tinkering a bit on guitar and piano — and gotten a chance to play some high-profile country shows for major country stars. She plans to continue performing locally this fall, with hopes for eventually recording a studio album.
“I take every show as an opportunity and a blessing in itself,” she says. “To be able to open for such amazing people that I’ve looked up to, it’s still just so surreal to be able to do it. I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
VIDEO: Shelby Ann-Marie, “You and Me” (Local Spins Live)
Video by Ricky Olmos
Copyright 2015, Spins on Music LLC