Shelby Lynne was destined to be a singer. Born a singer. She was raised in rural Alabama by musical parents who stressed individuality and the importance of standing apart from others. A terrible student, but avid reader, she loved the written lyric and a beautiful melody. Around the house she was surrounded by country music from the past, Hank Williams, Dottie West, Waylon Jennings, as well as old 45’s that belonged to her parents stacked high with most all Everly Brothers, Beatles, Elvis. It was the old pop music that really turned her soul on. The harmonies that came so naturally to her from such an early age stemmed from her mother, a naturally gifted singer, who guided the diamond in the rough talent on rides to school on freezing Alabama mornings with her younger sister Allison. They sang three part harmonies to pass the time, which brought the threesome so close in life, and in music. The Mills Brothers, Ink Spots, Kay Starr, Everly’s and anything that needed a harmony – this was the car in which to find it.
Shelby started playing guitar by age seven in order to accompany herself on these songs. Her father was a weekend guitar player in bands and bars and taught her a three-chord progression in E, and from there the hunger for more was so intense she learned the rest on her own. By high school graduation, her mind was made up and a trip to Nashville was inevitable. Married to her high school sweetheart with dreams of country music success in mind, they packed and moved to Music City where she met veteran songwriter Bob Tubert. With only a cassette demo in hand, he took a chance and played the tape for the TV producer of a long since gone program on the Nashville Network called “Nashville Now,” hosted by Ralph Emory. After the performance, she was offered a record deal by CBS Records where legendary producer Billy Sherrill came out of semi retirement to produce her first record. It included a duet with country legend George Jones, who praised Lynne’s ability to “own” a song at such an early age.
After five albums in Nashville, Lynne was hungry for a change from the Nashville system and searched for a record producer who wanted to collaborate on a project. She enlisted Bill Bottrell, who had produced for Michael Jackson, Madonna, and had big success with Sheryl Crow on the highly successful Tuesday Night Music Club. The album, I Am Shelby Lynne, was recorded on the Northern California coast in 1998.
With the critical success and recognition of I Am Shelby Lynne, she was awarded the Best New Artist GRAMMY® in 2000 – after nearly 13 years in the business. Love, Shelby was released in 2001, followed by a pair of intimate, self-produced albums – Identity Crisis (2003) and Suit Yourself (2005). She made her acting debut in 2005, playing Johnny Cash’s mother in the Fox Searchlight motion picture Walk the Line. Just a Little Lovin’, her critically acclaimed tribute to Dusty Springfield, was released in 2008.
Never one to go with the crowd, Shelby continues to stand apart from the mainstream music world. She founded her own label, EVERSO RECORDS, and its first release, Lynne’s Tears, Lies, And Alibis, debuted at No. 16 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart in April of 2010. A Top 10 hit at Americana radio, it was hailed by Newsday as “her strongest album in a decade,” a sentiment echoed by numerous critics. She followed Tears, Lies, And Alibis with her first-ever holiday collection, Merry Christmas, released in the fall of 2010.
Revelation Road was released by EVERSO in October of 2011. Lynne wrote, recorded and produced the album, which was awarded four stars by MOJO, Uncut and American Songwriter. It included the single “Heaven’s Only Days Down The Road,” named by NPR Music as a “Song of the Day.” After a yearlong solo acoustic tour, she released Revelation Road Deluxe Edition in 2012. Raising the bar for deluxe editions, it included the original album plus two additional full-length works Live At McCabe’s, which marked her first-ever live album, and the DVD Live in London.
Shelby released Thanks, a five-song EP, in December 2013, noting, “these songs are a way to express my love and gratitude to the universe and to all of the music appreciating souls out there for the friendship and fellowship that music brings us.” Recorded at EVERSO Studio in Palm Desert, CA with co-producer Ben Peeler, who also played lap steel and guitars and contributed background vocals, it also featured the legendary Maxine Waters, Michael Jerome and Ed Maxwell. “Her sultry, commanding voice has rarely been more effective,” said Mother Jones while The New York Times observed, “Southern gospel proves a durable framework for Shelby Lynne” and AllMusic.com noted, “Lynne displays how inseparable the threads of faith and gratitude are on Thanks.”