To Top

Daily Inspiration: Meet Shae Parker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shae Parker.

Hi Shae, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
There are some things in this world that are worth pursuing. Life, Love, and Liberty are the obvious answers but to a musician, it can be just a sound. Or in this case, “The Sound” better known as “The Memphis Sound”.

I’m a singer/songwriter based in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (Front Royal) and have been singing, playing guitar, and writing songs since stumbling upon my mother’s guitar tucked away in a closet as a child. It was in East Tennessee, as a teenager that I learned to play the banjo. Back then I could never have imagined that three decades later I would find myself in Memphis recording an album of my own music. While my connection to Memphis is brief, the city’s musical history, connection, vibe, and sound are what draws inspires, and connects musicians from around this globe and brings us back.

It was in 2020, during the pandemic with music venues closed (along with most other things) that I found extra time on my hands and decided to make an effort to professionally record some of the numerous songs I’d written over the years. After realizing that I didn’t necessarily have the knowledge base or facilities to accomplish this on my own I decided to reach out to my network of friends who were involved in music. The first step was my fellow bandmates (The River Driven Band), who would be invaluable in the process. Next was my network of music friends and this is where Till enters the story.

Till Palmer and I are from the same town in Virginia. We’ve known each other since we were kids at summer camp, years later he would work for me as a radio disc jockey while he was in college. For the past 20 years, he has been making a name for himself in the Memphis music scene and for more than a decade he has been the Chief Engineer at Ecko Studio/Records. I reached out to Till about rates and the availability of booking studio time and was not only amazed that I could book the studio, but that it was affordable. I could not only attempt to make an album, I was going to do it in Memphis!

I put together a budget, and a song list and scheduled the band and it looked as though things were on track to try and record an album. As is often the case, things change and as the session came closer everyone in the band had things come up that would not allow them to make the trip. Rather than be deterred I decided to press on with the session and I would make a solo album or at least get a good demo.

I arrived in Memphis early on Friday morning and decided that since I wouldn’t be meeting Till until that afternoon I would take in some of the city. My first stop was to East McLemore Avenue and the Stax Museum before heading over to Sun and down to Beale. A quick trip past the gates at Graceland and then just enough time to get back to the hotel to pick up my instruments and meet Till at the studio in North Hollywood. While not as well known as other famed Memphis studios, Ecko has its place in Memphis music history. The original location of Shoe Productions and The Daily Planet, the studio was also utilized by Jim Stewart and Bobby Manuel among numerous others in the post-Stax years. “I am the cosmos” by Chris Bell (Big Star) and Rick Dee’s “Disco Duck” were both recorded in there and now I would be too.

I hadn’t seen Till since Bonnaroo in 2008, but we picked up right where we left off. The sessions went very smoothly and despite my inexperience in a studio Till made it very comfortable. At one point during the sessions, John Ward who has owned Ecko since 1995 stopped in to see what we were up to and say hello. In total, we recorded 14 songs with numerous overdubs, of those we felt we had at least a dozen songs that could be made into more than just a demo but perhaps an album. At the end of the weekend, I headed back to Virginia with a rough mix of the project and set plans for the next step in this process.

While I was familiar with music performance and that side of the music business, the business of recorded music and distribution was a whole new aspect that I need to figure out. Till agreed to take two of the songs that were almost completed during the recording sessions and produce them so I could start the process of learning how to digitally distribute, copyright, publish, and all of the other facets involved. Once the first two songs were released (Save The Humans Too, She Loves Me But) it was time to book more studio time to finish the other 10 tracks. Till and I had a mutual friend in Front Royal who has a studio (Green Room Recording Studio) and I booked time to have the remaining overdubs finished up there.

Till mixed and mastered all of the files back in Memphis keeping me in the loop during the entire process. After three days in Memphis, two in Virginia, and countless days of mixing I was blown away by the finished product. More so, I was blown away by the process. I had recorded an album but more than that I had done it in Memphis and though I had a connection to Till, the entire process was kept professional with no favoritism. Any musician could do this, any musician can do this in Memphis…you just have to put together a plan.

My new plan is to bring the band back and cut the next album. See you soon Memphis!

The album “Songs of Life, Love and Liberty” by Shae Parker was released on August 11, 2022, and is available on all digital platforms.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The biggest obstacle is making time for yourself to do what you really want to do. The pandemic helped, but by the time I ended up in Memphis the world was already opening back up.

So I had to still make time to reach my goal. What I didn’t realize was I could have done this earlier in my life. Budgeting was probably the most important part of making the process successful.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
When I’m not running my sign shop, I am out playing my music wherever I can and to whomever I can. My songs are autobiographical, satirical, and honest with traditional roots, folk, blues, and Americana musical style. I’m a multi-instrumentalist, who plays mandolin, banjo, bass, piano, and percussion. Registered BMI songwriter.

I’ve subsidized my musical passion as a sign maker/painter (Owner, Hanna Signs, Front Royal, VA), radio broadcaster (WFTR/WZRV/WINC/WAPP/WFQX), cook, artist, tow truck driver (AAA), and even served on his hometown’s town council and as its Vice Mayor.

I’m married with 2 adult daughters and a teenage son.

What were you like growing up?
As a kid, I was always into art. Music became a passion as a young teenager with an almost simultaneous discovery of my sister’s Beatles records and my mother’s guitar, the latter hidden away in a closet.

Despite any formal musical training I tried out for and was accepted in my high school jazz band on bass guitar and was also into Theatre, winning a State Championship in high school.

Contact Info:

Suggest a Story: VoyageMemphis is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Local Stories