St. Stephen – For St. Stephen’s own Shawn Richard, 2021 is looking pretty amazing.
The Charlotte County native, well known for his exceedingly musical family, and who gained provincial fame when he took the title of Saint John Idol in 2017, has made a huge leap forward with his dream of being a full-time musician; he’s signed a development deal with SSM Nashville Records.
“They (SSM) were searching for one male artist and came across my music,” said Richard. “They reached out to me, and after a few conversations and meetings back and forth, they decided to send the offer to me, which I accepted and signed!”
What SSM have entered into with Richard is what’s called a “development deal”. While it’s not a full-fledged record deal, what a development deal offers Richard is the opportunity to move to Nashville, work with well-known Nashville songwriters, and SSM will record and master five of Richard’s new songs. The process will not only see Richard with five new tracks, but he’ll make the connections he needs to make his mark on Nashville’s famed Music Row, the historic district which is home to a plethora of music industry related businesses. It’s where Dolly Parton and Elvis recorded hits in the famous RCA Studio B, and streets are named after country music greats.
“If all is successful,” said Richard, “they (SSM) reserve the right to pitch me to other record labels including, but not limited to, SSM Nashville.”
“Shawn brings a great work ethic to the table,” said SSM Director of A&R, Greg Mann.
“We feel that he will work as hard as we do in developing his brand into one that can be profitable, sustainable, and entertaining, which are required foundational pillars in the country music business,” Mann added.
But this is not what could be called overnight success for Richard. He began playing music with his family at the age of 10, honing his skills at benefit concerts and at church with “The Richards”. And while music is really in his blood, it wasn’t until 10 years ago when the then 20-year-old Richard started writing his own music.
“I’ve always played around with the idea of writing but started taking it seriously about 10 years ago,” said Richard.
“As you get older you experience more feelings and situations that lead you to have more to write about, and as a songwriter we tend to express our feelings through that outlet.
“So I would say as I started experiencing more in life, especially going through so many changes at that age, I was inspired to actually start channeling my feelings into song writing.”
And channel he does. Richard writes relatable songs that you find yourself humming after hearing. His style, one he calls “diverse, real, and raw” offers what country music fans are after; the familiar country music tones but with the songs that offer that little bit more.
“It’s not necessarily about back roads and beer, but about the feelings and experiences that go along with that,” said Richard. “As a country/contemporary country artist, my songs are about real feelings and situations that everyone can relate to.
“When I write a song, I have a story in mind, but branch it out so that it is relatable on many different levels.”
And Richard credits the support he experienced playing locally and around New Brunswick with helping shape how and what he plays today.
“There are so many talented people around this area that have held a huge part in shaping who I am today as a musician,” said Richard.
“Growing up in this area, the support of my musical career has been outstanding. People are so encouraging, and want to see you do the best you can do and go as far as you can go.
“I gained my confidence on stage singing at countless benefit concerts and church concerts with my family, and I would say to date that has been what has shaped me the most to be what I am today.”
Richard’s development deal will not only see the five new songs, but if everything goes as planned and the music resonates with its audience, SSM will take one of the singles and promote it across the U.S. and the U.K., and Richard will set out on a radio station tour. And while the tour won’t see him back in Canada, the music will be available across all streaming platforms, and hence his Canadian fans will be able to enjoy it as well.
In fact, head to Amazon Music, iTunes or Spotify and you can enjoy some of Richard’s current singles.
And Richard’s ultimate goal? To have music be his full-time, and only, job.
“My goal is to live comfortably just writing and performing my music exclusively,” he said.
“My dream is to perform my music all over the world, but success to me would be to make enough to be able to just do what I love.”
“His drive to succeed captured our attention from the very beginning of this process,” said Mann.
“We are so excited to further his success as an artist and expand upon his already great songwriting and performance skills. The SSM Nashville team is elated for what is to come for Shawn.”
And while his deal with SSM is a huge step in that direction, Richard needs some help to make it work.
While SSM covers all the music production and promotion costs, Richard will have to foot the bill for day-to-day living and travel out of his own pocket. Though he currently works two full-time jobs, Richard will have to drop them both to move forward with SSM, and the result is Richard has set up a GoFundMe page to help offset those costs.
“The GoFundMe fundraiser was set up so that I will have a back-up plan until my music starts bringing in money,” said Richard.
To donate to Richard’s music dream, go to https://gofund.me/82367607