Shawn McDonald: The songsmith searching for what it means to be human

Wednesday 7th March 2018

Tony Cummings reports on the Seattle-based singer/songwriter SHAWN McDONALD and the first of his three EP trilogy

Shawn McDonald
Shawn McDonald

When Cross Rhythms spoke to Shawn McDonald in 2005 things were going pretty well for the Seattle-based singer/songwriter. Having made a series of wrong calls in his early life ending with him doing copious amounts of drugs Christian conversion enabled him to clean up his act and to begin writing songs reflecting his new-found faith. In 2004 Shawn was signed to the major Christian label Sparrow Records and his first album for them 'Simply Nothing' enabled him to tour the US. When asked whether he enjoyed ministering he said he did though he expressed surprise that young people would often come to him literally in tears. He said then, "I don't even really know why, other than that they say that the music that I'm writing is healing their hearts. The only thing I can explain about that is that the music that I wrote was healing MY heart when I wrote it."

After his album debut a handful of live releases and studio albums followed, his last for Sparrow being 2014's 'Brave'. Now, after four years this most thought provoking of songsmiths has returned with the first of three EPs, 'The Search'. On his website Shawn wrote about his re-emergence as an independent artist.

"I've gone through a lot of changes over the last few years. Some were controllable, and some were not. I went from having a record deal to being an independent artist, and figuring out how to do this on my own. On some level I felt I went backwards a few steps. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't, but at the end of the day I was freed up to make music how I wanted and not have to worry about anything but creating the art that I believe in. For me this feels like a step forward. I might not have marketing budgets and radio support, but I am really only looking to find ways to make enough income to support my family and live out the passions that burn brightly within. Chasing the dream or whatever you want to call it. The hardest part though is figuring out a way to survive, create and live in community.

"If you are reading this then I would also like to believe that something I have created has moved you in a way that you got curious enough to come learn more about who and what I am about as an artist, an individual and why I create the songs I do. I know my sound isn't mainstream (whatever that is 'cause it changes often) but it is unique to my view and sight. I don't want to be another version of something that already exists. I want to create and talk about the stories that are uniquely mine. I want to give my perspective on what I have learned over the years, not that I think I've got it dialed in, but because I believe I have something to offer. I've learned some things in my lifetime, and those are the things I want to talk about. I don't follow fads or jump on trends. These things fade as fast as they come in. I want to offer depth to the world, and hopefully guide others to find it as well.

"These songs are personal glimpses into my world. They're meaningful to me and help me deal with this thing we call life. They are songs that I write to my wife, my children, my friends, my family, and the search to find the meaning and value of life as I pursue what it means to know and love the creator of this beautiful world. I don't believe life is always good 'cause just stick around for long enough and you will taste plenty of bitter things. This is a place of honesty and if I choose only to talk about the good things then we give a false sense of what life truly is. Life happens, sometimes it's beautiful and sometimes it straight knocks the wind out of us.

"If you are still reading this then maybe you feel the ache as well. A subtle stirring within! A need for something different, or maybe just something healthy and true. This ache is real and I would go as far to say it is alive in all of us. If you don't feel it then maybe try stepping back for a sec and asking yourself a couple questions. Why am I here? What does it mean to truly live? Where did we come from? The answers to these questions differ for every human you ask. Sometimes we numb ourselves so much we can't feel what is really happening around us. You might not even know you're doing it or maybe the wound is so deep the last thing you want is to face the very thing that is hurting you. All these things are things I wrestle with and ask. I don't know if I will find the answers but God knows I will try. So that is where we start. Join me as I take you on a journey. I call this 'The Journey', 'The Discover' and 'The Struggle In Between', this is a three-part EP session I will be releasing in the next year or so. Let me wrestle with these things in front of you as I attempt to tackle what it means to be human." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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