By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 2005
hings may be moving at breakneck speed for Shelly Fairchild, but her life experiences show that she's certainly not a Shelly-come-lately to the business of entertainment.
Fairchild's first album, "Ride," was just released with some blues and rock amidst the country influences. And Fairchild also is involved in country-wide tours, media meetings, music videos and even an appearance on Dave Letterman's late-night show.
"I believe I'm going to wake up any minute," says Fairchild in a telephone interview from the road as she gets fans acquainted with her life and music. "You don't know this process until you are in the middle of it. I'm surprised I got a record deal. Things like this are so fragile. You just have to work to keep everything in your life in order or it will overwhelm you."
Fairchild was born and raised in the small burg of Clinton, Miss. She was part of a musical family where everyone sang and/or played an instrument. By six, she was given her first guitar, and it didn't take long for her to figure out that music was going to be a big part of her future.
She was always singing, whether at school music events, community functions or state fairs and competing in talent competitions.
Fairchild attended Mississippi College with majors in communication and theater with a minor in music. She had the lead role in a local production of "Always Patsy Cline." Plus she went on the road with a national touring production of "Beehive: A 60's Musical."
"I did nine years of pro theater," she says. "It has really helped me be free on stage. There's no fourth wall. It's about getting the audience to feel something and react. If I'm dancing onstage, it gives everyone permission to dance."
She moved to Nashville in 2001 with the hope that the same things that made her a popular live performer would catch the attention of record executives. She signed with Columbia Records Nashville, and her first single, "You Don't Lie Here Anymore" (written with Sonny LeMaire and Clay Mills), was released late in 2004.
Although music is and will continue to be her biggest love and career aspiration, she is also possibly on the verge of getting into movies as well. "I just did a reading for a film about characters from Beatles songs," says Fairchild.
The film is titled "All You Need Is Love." "The character I read for is Sadie, who is a Janis Joplin-type character."
But right now the main thrust is the new album, "Ride."
"It's a little bit scary," says Fairchild. "It's like birthing a child. I don't want anyone to think it's ugly. So far we've gotten such a great response from the people who've heard it. I want people to like the whole thing and not want to skip a track while listening to it."
There were two producers, Buddy Cannon, who has worked with Kenny Chesney and Reba McEntire, and Kenny Greenberg, who has handled The Mavericks and Allison Moorer. The two had never worked together. But Fairchild was satisfied with how the recording sessions worked out.
"It worked like a dream," she says. "It was a breeze...They let me be who I wanted to be."
While performing is the biggest part of her package right now, having written only four songs on this first disc, she does take the songwriting part of the profession seriously. "I don't think I'm a great songwriter, but I working on it," she says. "It's a part of who I am."
The album title is perfect for her. She has multiple facets of her life, and that title has a variety of interpretations. "Ride has different meanings depending on how it is used," says Fairchild. "Everything is a bit of a ride. Everyone has a story."
One thing that comes through in her lifestyle and her music is her personal courage. She is willing to try new things, and it shows in many ways. "I grew up with boy cousins, and we'd always ride horses. We'd always be outside playing, doing something. But I wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle. There's a sign of freedom in that."
So when the opportunity to do it came up, she jumped right in. "There's a guy I know who has a Harley-Davidson dealership in Nashville (now her residence)," says Fairchild. "So I learned to ride and a started a relationship with the company. They put my record in their stores, and they do benefits."
So when you see her riding a "hog" in her music video, it isn't just for show. In fact, when the Academy of Country Music set up plans for its second charity motorcycle ride, Fairchild was one of the first in line to sign up. But she also noticed another fact about the event after enlisting. "I'm the only female in the group," she says. "So what's wrong with me?"