Victoria Shaw has definitely made her mark on the Nashville music scene. Her songs, collectively, have sold more than 65 million CD’s. She has written hits such as “The River” (Garth Brooks) and “Nobody Wants to be Lonely” (Ricky Martin, Christiana Aguilera), and co-wrote “I Love the Way You Love Me” (John Michael Montgomery). She was the co-producer of the debut album for Lady Antebellum with Paul Worley. She is also a singer in her own right, opening for Garth Brooks at his Central Park concert, and has just released a Christmas CD which everyone needs!
Where did you grow up and how did Nashville become home?
I came to Nashville in kind of a kooky way. I was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles from the age of 5 -18. At 18 I moved back to NYC by myself and fell in love with country music of all things! So I started driving (yes, driving) down to Nashville every few months trying to “make my mark.” I did that for years, and in 1992 I finally flipped my base to live in Nashville.
What was the first song you heard on the radio that you wrote or sang, and how did that feel?
The first song of mine I ever heard on the radio was a song I wrote and sang called IS THAT ANYWAY TO TREAT A STAR. It was about playing in New York piano bars, but it was completely a country song! I brought it to the “local” New York Country radio station and they ended up putting it on the air and it became a big “local” hit. Little did I know that that station was the largest radio station in the country! Ha! Nothing happened for years after that, but it was a fun intro to the music business.
Does that same rush ever go away?
Honestly? Not really. I think its always exciting when one of my new songs gets on the radio, and when I hear one of my “oldies” it still makes me proud.
What is the most surprising aspect of the song writing world that people don’t realize?
Hmmmm never thought about that. Maybe that it’s a REAL job. Songs don’t just “appear,” and it doesn’t come easy. They are sweated over, just as if I were a carpenter making a beautiful piece of furniture. People would NEVER think of just “taking” that furniture for free, and yet there has always been this unspoken feeling that “it’s just a song. It’s not a real thing”. That’s why I lobby a lot in DC to protect our copyright laws and fight piracy.
You’re a singer and a songwriter. Do those two abilities complement or rival one another?
They don’t rival at all. I think I write as well as I do because I’m a singer. I think that helps my melodies to be so much more interesting and my lyrics to be as well-crafted as possible. I’m always thinking about what the “singer” would feel performing this song.
The songwriting world seems to be heavily dominated by men, from a completely outside perspective. Does this ever prove to be an obstacle, and did you have a woman mentor in the business?
That is a true observation, but I barely spend any time thinking about that. As Shakespeare WOULD have said if he were a songwriter, “The song is the thing.” At the end of the day, the song wins out. An artist doesn’t care if it’s written by a man, a woman or a space alien. They just want a great song. I would say there are more female writers now than there ever were. When I came into town you could’ve counted on one hand the hit females. They were Kye Fleming, Lisa Silver, Pat Bunch, Mary Ann Kennedy. I might be leaving someone out, but it was a small list.
I will still hear people refer to county music as “country & western.” When did this term fall out of favor, and is it akin to calling a handbag a “purse,” or calling pants “slacks?” In other words, simply a bit outdated? Or is this a bigger faux pas?
Ha! It actually refers to a completely different genre of country music. I would say anything before 1970 would be referred to as country and western. People who don’t listen to country really show their hand when they use that term. OR, they love to say, ” I love country music. I love Patsy Cline!” They seem to think listening to only her makes them a country music lover.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
There’s too many. My parents were full of great advice. They were big believers that ANYTHING was possible if you worked hard enough!
Where in Nashville do you like to eat out for a date night?
What’s a date night? Keep hearing about it, but I can’t relate! Ha, actually, my husband and I have JUST started doing that once in a while, now that my kids don’t need babysitters any more. I’m still a sucker for THE PALM, we like City House and I’m looking forward to trying Silo. I’ve heard its fabulous! For a family meal? Let’s see, we do a lot of Blue Coast Burrito, NY Pie and Pei Wei.
A big question: where is the best cupcake found in Nashville?
I’ll never turn a GiGi’s cupcake down, especially now that they have the mini ones. They also have good mini ones at Whole Foods Bakery.
And, where in Nashville is the pizza as good as in New York?
Like I said, NY Pie. We are SO happy they are here!
How do you balance work with motherhood?
Woman are multi-taskers. We’re just born that way. Like any working mother, I have learned to keep the plates spinning! I also have no problem passing up something that would be good for my career but bad for my family. I do not miss recitals. I don’t care if Paul McCartney asked me to write. I’ll never lie on my death bed and say, “I should have written with so and so.” I never want to say, “I shouldn’t have missed their recitals.” My life is CRAZY, but I think it’s not AS crazy as it could be, because I have a very clear understanding of what my priorities are. Kids don’t care how much money you make, they just want YOU. So I keep my travel to a minimum. And I’ve always emailed them every day when I’m away and told them about my day. Of course, I call too, but in my emails I go into how I feel about things. Like when they were really little, and my husband would read them my emails, I would tell them “I was a little nervous to write with my new friend today, but I just walked in that room and introduced myself and soon we were having fun.” I tried to tie my emails into little lessons. It might sound silly, but I found that it was a great way to teach them things in a subtle way.
Is there a specific show or event this December that you are looking forward to?
I’m playing Birdland in New York, which is one of my very favorite clubs to play! I do a Bluebird-style writing show there a few times a year called UNDER THE COVERS WITH VICTORIA SHAW and friends. This time my guests are Gary Burr and Chely Wright. I’m also writing with Bette Midler while I’m in New York, which I’m excited about. We wrote a few months ago when she was down here and I’m thrilled to be working again with her. I’m also playing the Bluebird Cafe, which is “home” for all of us songwriters.
What books can be found on your bedside table or kindle?
Right now I”m reading Keith Richard’s bio. I recently finished Drop Dead Healthy, which was hilarious. Its by A.J. Jacobs, whom I love. He wrote a great book called The Year of Living Biblically, which was interesting and so funny.
I was just listening to your Christmas album Fa La La. I love it. What is your ideal Christmas soundtrack for our readers this holiday.
The minute radio starts playing Christmas music I don’t change my dial. I love it. I guess my favorites would be the classics like WHITE CHRISTMAS, WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, THE CHRISTMAS SONG, etc. But I also have to admit I love Paul McCartney’s silly but infectious WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS TIME and CHRISTMAS WRAPPING from the Waitress’ and DO THEY KNOW ITS CHRISTMAS. All those 80’s songs! I’m a HUGE fan of Christmas music which is why I wrote enough songs to fill a CD which I know is kind of “cocky” of me, but I’m pretty proud of the project and have gotten such lovely comments on it. I’m also giving away a free song from it if you email me at [email protected].
You are glowing in these photos. For all of us with holiday photos ahead of us, would you fill us in on what cosmetics you used?
Yes! The reason I know this answer is because Dianna (at Woo Skincare + Cosmetics) did my makeup and did such a great job so I had her write it all down! She was amazing and quick, which I appreciate! This is what I have: Chantecaille elephant palette shadows, Giorgio Armani luminous silk foundation with Chantecaille high definition pressed powder, Bobbi Brown lip pencil in Sangria and gloss in Scarlet Gloss. Le Metier cream blush in Ginger lily.
What three things (besides God, friends and family) can you not live without?
Can I add my dog to that list too?
Okay, 3 things …. music, travel and my hair colorist Gordon Robison …not necessarily in that order!
Thank you Victoria!
Special thanks to our amazing photographer, Ashley Hylbert. For more photos from this shoot, be sure to see Ashley’s blog: HERE.
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