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The same two questions shadow Shawn Newell wherever he goes. The 6’ 6” slim framed country artist can’t go anywhere without being asked about his stature. “I get asked about my height all the time. I usually tell people I’m 5’ 18”; It’s funny to see their confused reactions,” he says jokingly. The answer to the other inquiry is equally humorous. “People often ask me how I got started playing music. It’s always the same; they get a serious look on their face, like they are waiting for some interesting story. I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 20, but when I did it set a fire ablaze inside of me. I loved watching my favorite Texas Country/Red Dirt bands coming through Beaumont close to where I grew up, but honestly, what drove me to music was all the pretty girls singing every single word to every song those guys sang,” he laughs. “That and the thrill of performing under the hot stage lights kept me going through the tough times in the beginning. I’ve matured as a musician since then, and the love of making music that people appreciate keeps driving me now.”
Shawn has worked tirelessly for the past three years to mold himself into a musician, but he is quick to credit key people who guided him from the start. Some of his influences include Southeast Texas artist Barbara Hickey, Stoney LaRue, Wade Bowen, Reckless Kelley, Turnpike Troubadours, Aaron Watson, and many more. With a fiery passion for entertaining people, he set out playing around Southeast Texas with his band “Shawn Newell & Straight Six”. The group received plenty of regional recognition and shared the stage with many popular acts.
Shawn was unexpectedly relocated to Conway, Arkansas in early 2013, not long after things really started happening. Conflicted with the direction in which he was going, he put his live performances on hold for several months to redefine himself as an artist. The country-rock influence in his music wasn’t as satisfying after being exposed to the bluegrass-traditional country scene in Arkansas.
Once regrouped, the new gang kicked things off with a patriotic effort called the “Modern Day Patriot Project”. This endeavor includes a 5-8 song CD that will be released in late 2013 full of original patriotic music. A percentage of sales will be donated to patriotic causes through veteran organizations. The first single “The American In Me” was released on iTunes June 1st 2013. The song, rich in Southern dignity and having been heartily anticipated, was downloaded in over 20 states within the first few days of its release. Shawn plans to continue to promote patriotism through his music with this side project even after the first CD is finished.
Aside from the MDPP, the group is working daily on the debut album showcasing their Texas Country/Red Dirt style music. The title track “Campfire Concert” portrays a small town good time featuring a circle of friends enjoying hometown music. The song was penned in a matter of minutes with Josh Leblanc, a personal friend from Orangefield, Texas. “It’s just one of those songs you can’t listen to live without tapping your toes,” Newell says. “I can’t wait to roll out the studio version later this year.”
With many key people working behind the scenes, 2014 looks to be a big year for the young musician. The tour will take them all over Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and wherever else the music finds them. Look for an EP, a full length album, and the Modern Day Patriot CD which should all be made available later this year!