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FIRST THINGS FIRST: SHANNON LABRIE

Shannon Labrie.jpg

After several years of exploring the country (and exploring various interests), Nebraska native Shannon Labrie decided to settle in the country music capital of the world to focus on a career in music.

Even though she’s based in Nashville, Tenn., Labrie isn’t aiming to become a country starlet. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has settled into Nashville’s independent music scene, releasing her debut album, Just Be Honest, in early 2013. One of its standout tracks is the airy, dreamy “I Remember a Boy,” which sounds like what might have happened if a young Sarah McLachlan had worked with producer Daniel Lanois.

Earlier this week, Labrie called to talk about some significant personal and musical firsts in her life.

Her first concert: “My first show was James Taylor in Omaha, Nebraska, with my dad. We sat in the nosebleeds, for sure. I was maybe around 10 years old. It’s a phenomenal memory of my father, and I just love James Taylor. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, so it was like watching something I knew I’d be one day.”

First song she ever wrote: “It didn’t have a title, but there was a song I wrote around the time my dad died [after battling cancer], and all I can think of is the melody. That was probably when I was 14 or 15. It was written using the first two chords I ever knew, which were E minor and G. That was just the first of many songs.”

First words that come to mind when thinking about her hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska: “My mother — and corn (laughs). I haven’t been there in a really long time.”

First impression of Nashville’s independent music scene: “My first impression was it was exciting that there was a music element to Nashville that wasn’t country. I feel like the indie-music side of Nashville is still very small, but growing, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

First song written for Just Be Honest: “ ‘I Remember a Boy,’ ‘Headlines’ and ‘Gettin’ Tired’ were all songs that were pulled from my [self-titled 2012] EP for the album. … ‘I Remember a Boy’ was the first extremely honest and vulnerable song I had written. As a songwriter, you write a lot about other people. This song was about one of the most intimate, heartbreaking moments of my life. I wrote that song, and that was the beginning of writing all of the other songs on the album, ultimately.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Shannon Labrie on tour (schedule subject to change):

* May 11: Musicians Corner/Centennial Park — Nashville, Tenn.
* May 14: Rockwood Music Hall — New York
* May 15: Non-COMMvention — Philadelphia
* May 16: Tin Angel — Philadelphia
* May 17: House of Harmony — Pittsburgh