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Shanta Paloma has been writing and performing for over a decade. She just released her debut album that features eleven original songs, each with their very own character. “Classic” is the adjective that seems to pop up when describing the album. Her gritty and soulful vocals dance atop rhythmically diverse music that blends rock, punk, folk, pop, funk and even a little bossa nova! She uses impassioned vocals and guitar cajones like Melissa Etheridge; jazzy progressions and moodiness like Fiona Apple; the pop sensibility of Adele and a dash of Jewel-like sweetness. Her lyrics are philosophical, emotional and sometimes playful; revealing a bleeding, yet hopeful, heart. She sings about non-committal romance, bittersweet affairs and the enduring, everlasting spirit. There is passion in her delivery and depth in the content that makes for sexy, sweet and soulful songs. Like Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Bjork, Shanta is bold, original, inventive “classic.”
In the past, Shanta has added performance art to her musical show, accompanied by the “junk trunk” and/or her live painter, Matto. Of her many accomplishments (read bio), she was voted 2nd Best Singer-Songwriter in the Valley in 2008. Her voice has been described as “soulful” and “grimy” and her performance has been described as “emotive, original and fun!” Upon the release of the album, Shanta will be touring with a full band. Next year, she will be embarking on The Badass & Baroque Tour to Las Vegas – a nationwide tour with artists and musicians all headed to her Las Vegas wedding. Look out!
Shanta was born a baby. A little one. The first few years of her life were spent in Santa Monica, California, a couple blocks from where David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson ran in super-slow motion in that T.V. series, Baywatch. Despite her name – sanskit for “peaceful” combined with Spanish for “dove”- Shanta is neither Indian nor Spanish. Au contraire – she hails from an ethnic cocktail of a background that includes Scottish, Czech and Filipina roots. And like that didn’t confuse her enough, she was (and still is) the daughter of a diplomat who whisked her away to see the world. Little SP was brought up living in India, France, Turkey and both coasts of the United States. She probably remembers the many museums, natural wonders, palaces, cathedrals, castles and temples that she was brought too, but she actually spent most of her time off day dreaming about her heart’s obsession.
Shanta’s romance with music started at the age of seven with a sad little piano in the basement of a music store in Paris. With one white key amidst a sea of beige keys, this poor deformed piano clearly needed some extra love. Shanta was all over it. Of course, her parents would only purchase the piano on the condition that she learn to play… and she did. Unfortunately, this piano now sits by the front door and is the where everybody puts the mail and their car keys. While little SP studied at the conservatory in Paris and took private piano lessons for years, her musical journey did not really take off until she picked up the guitar at the age of fifteen. Learning the classics on piano was interesting… but not creatively fulfilling. Moreover, pianos are hard to carry and Shanta tends to be a restless girl. So instead, she gravitated towards a more portable instrument. Secretly, she began to plunk away on her father’s guitar, hiding her interest from her parents who might force her to practice. (*shudder*). When she was surprised with a guitar for her birthday, she picked it up and played her first original song that evening. It was probably something really depressing and full of angst that included images of knives and blood and needles and such. At that time, nobody knew that she had been teaching herself to play for several days and so she was able to pretend to be some sort of guitar prodigy and milk some attention. *grin*
From that point on, Shanta’s interaction with music was in the form of writing her own material to explore and express her inner landscape. As she became more curious about music in general, she studied musical forms from different countries, eras and genres, using what she learned to inform her creative writing process. As her song list grew, she performed at local open mics and talent competitions. In 1997, she won first place at the talent competition at Dramafest in Oberweisel, Germany for her original song, Mariposas Maquiladora. In 2000 she won the State Department’s Arts Merit Award for best original compositions for On An Imperfect Piano and for Surrender. In the same year, she was also voted Best Female Vocalist at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School in Hadley, MA. In 2004, she was picked up by a producer in Nashville who recorded three of her songs – Poet, Never Meant to Be, and Changes. (The production was not quite Shanta-style and so nothing became of those recordings. Sign up the email list and you can get free copies of them Nashvilled Shanta songs.
In 2007, she played bass guitar for the hard rock band, My New Shell, which was voted Best New Rock Band in the Pioneer Valley according to My 411 Source, who also named her as Best Singer-Songwriter in 2008. Shanta has since been included on two compilation CDs – My 411 Source’s Best of 2008 Compilation and the Valley Independent Artists Compilation Vol. 2, 2008. Two of her original tracks have also been featured on the first and third episodes of the independent Internet mini-series, Without You, by Mad Z Productions. Her original music has been aired on 90.7FM WTCC; on 89.7FM WTBR; on 97.7FM WBCR, on WXOJ-LP 103.3 FM VFR and now on Springfield's Lazer 99.3 !
In the time that Shanta was not recording her long awaited album, she has been teaching private music lessons at several locations in the Pioneer Valley and performing in New England. Oh! And she plays every Tuesday at Elizur's Pub in Holyoke.