Lo­cal mu­si­cian mak­ing big moves

Hopes to see changes in lo­cal mu­sic in­dus­try

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS chris.lewis@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Shanda Hop­kins, a mu­si­cian from Browns­dale, took a hia­tus from her mu­sic ca­reer for sev­eral years. Af­ter pick­ing her pas­sion back up, she’s been see­ing some sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess in less than a year, in­clud­ing the re­lease of her first al­bum.

BROWNS­DALE, NL — A mu­si­cian from Browns­dale is mak­ing some ma­jor moves af­ter only com­ing back to the in­dus­try less than a year ago.

Shanda Hop­kins, now liv­ing in Browns­dale with her hus­band and chil­dren, has been a mu­si­cian nearly her en­tire life, with dreams and as­pi­ra­tions of mak­ing a liv­ing in the mu­sic in­dus­try dat­ing back to her early school years.

Many years later, her pas­sion is still go­ing strong, even af­ter tak­ing a hia­tus from her blos­som­ing ca­reer as a mu­si­cian.

Hop­kins picked up the gui­tar and mi­cro­phone ini­tially as a child, a hobby that stuck with her for as long as she can re­mem­ber, she told the Com­pass.

She’s al­ways felt a spe­cial con­nec­tion to mu­sic of all types; when she be­gan writ­ing her own mu­sic, she says she found a new av­enue to con­nect not only with her own emo­tions, but the emo­tions of peo­ple around her as well.

De­spite her end­less ap­pre­ci­a­tion for mu­sic, Hop­kins de­cided to put it all on hold for sev­eral years af­ter her first daugh­ter ran into some se­ri­ous med­i­cal prob­lems.

“As much as I loved mu­sic, my fam­ily comes first be­fore ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter what,” she said. “I wanted to be there for my daugh­ter as much as pos­si­ble, and so mu­sic was just not my top pri­or­ity at that time.

“It was a hard time for me, for sure, but we got through it. (My daugh­ter) is healthy, and so my mind is a lot more at ease these days. I fig­ured there was no bet­ter time than now to try and pick mu­sic back up again and sort of reignite the pas­sion.”

Hop­kins made that de­ci­sion in May of 2017, fo­cus­ing on mu­sic for the first time since she was 21. Since then, she’s taken part in sev­eral pro­vin­cial mu­sic com­pe­ti­tions, re­leased her first full-length al­bum “Rewind,” and got­ten fre­quent ra­dio play in other At­lantic prov­inces, specif­i­cally in Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia – all in un­der a year.

“It feels re­ally good to see all this hap­pen­ing now. I think it all sort of goes back to just how much work I’m will­ing to put into it,” she said. “If there’s a com­pe­ti­tion, I’m a part of it. If there’s a lo­cal gig, I’m go­ing to be there. I jump at any and all op­por­tu­ni­ties I see, so I think that’s a big fac­tor be­hind ev­ery­thing that’s fall­ing into place for me now.”

Hop­kins takes mu­si­cal in­spi­ra­tion from just about ev­ery type of mu­sic, from coun­try, to rock, to hip hop. She says this wide ar­ray of pref­er­ences led to the sound of her first al­bum, which she re­leased in Oc­to­ber 2017 with the help of David Fitz.

The al­bum, avail­able for phys­i­cal pur­chase in sev­eral stores in the area or on­line via iTunes, Spo­tify and Google Play, con­sists en­tirely of Hop­kins’ orig­i­nal mu­sic. She says the songs cover a myr­iad of top­ics.

The song writ­ing process is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to Hop­kins, she told the Com­pass. She at­tributes gro­cery shop­ping trips to the suc­cess of many of her tracks, not­ing her phone is filled with voice record­ings of her hum­ming a tune while brows­ing the aisles of her lo­cal gro­cery store.

“If some­thing comes to me, I can’t let it go. I’m al­ways hum­ming some­thing, and if I get an idea for a song, no mat­ter where I am, I need to get it right there and then,” she ex­plained. “So I’ll take my phone out, hum the tune I have in my head and go on my way. Later on, I’ll lis­ten back through it and go from there.”

De­spite her re­cent suc­cess, Hop­kins said she’s dis­ap­pointed to see how lit­tle at­ten­tion mu­si­cians in New­found­land get from lo­cals.

With a lot of her mu­sic is get­ting plenty of ra­dio play in Hal­i­fax, Hop­kins won­ders why it’s so dif­fi­cult for some­one to get their mu­sic played lo­cally.

“I just don’t think there’s enough sup­port for lo­cal mu­si­cians here in the prov­ince some­times,” she said. “Hal­i­fax is play­ing my mu­sic, but New­found­land ra­dio sta­tions still won’t. Un­less some­one plays tra­di­tional New­found­land mu­sic, it just doesn’t seem like you’ll have much luck get­ting it on the ra­dio. “I’d like to see that chang­ing in the fu­ture, be­cause we’ve got tons of amaz­ing artists here in the prov­ince that peo­ple don’t even know about be­cause no one cares to play them.”

Hop­kins is cur­rently pre­par­ing her sec­ond al­bum. While still in the writ­ing process, she said peo­ple lis­ten­ing to her mu­sic can ex­pect some new and im­proved sounds on the up­com­ing project. Un­til then, “Rewind” is still read­ily avail­able, and Hop­kins has no in­ten­tions of eas­ing up on the grind any­time soon.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

“Rewind” is Shanda Hop­kins’ first al­bum, hav­ing been re­leased only a few months af­ter she picked up the gui­tar once again.

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