The weekly “My Music Row Story” column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals hold key positions that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column shines a light on the invaluable people who spin the wheels and keep the music playing.
Shane Stevens is a Grammy and ACM nominated singer-songwriter who has written for a variety of country and pop acts, including Walker Hayes, Carrie Underwood, Lady A, Sara Evans, Kellie Pickler, Ronnie Milsap, Jo Dee Messina, Jordin Sparks, Fifth Harmony, Little Mix, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor.
The South Carolina native earned his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 2010 with “American Honey”, performed by Lady A and co-authored with Hillary Lindsey and Cary Barlowe. After achieving great success writing country music, Stevens wanted to broaden his songwriting horizons and moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue a new direction as a writer, vocal producer and music developer. artists in the world of pop and R&B.
While in Los Angeles, Stevens contributed songs to several pop artists, such as “Super Bad” and “Goodie Bag” by Jesse McCartney“Eternal Love” by Fifth Harmony“Paper Doll” by Bea Miller“Step On Up” by Ariana Grande“Love Me or Leave Me” by small mixture“Woman Standing” by Meghan Trainor“Nobody” by Selena Gomezand “I’ll Chase The Sky”, “No Better Feelin'” and “Neighsayer” on the 2017 My little Pony soundtrack.
Stevens’ most recent accolades include selling a country music musical film to Paramount Pictures for which he wrote all of the original music alongside a childhood friend. Karyn Rochelle. He also co-wrote Walker Hayes‘ blockbuster hit ‘Fancy Like’.
MusicRow: Where did you grow up? What brought you to music?
I was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I grew up in a little town called Calabash, North Carolina, just across the state line. My father was a shrimper and my family worked in restaurants. My parents led praise and worship at church, which is how I fell in love with music. But I hated country music – because my parents loved country music!
My sister and I were obsessed with michael jackson. My fourth grade teacher was the first person to play me george michael, who became a huge influence for me. She said, “Someday you’ll be like him. You are going to write songs! She was talking to this little gay boy who was being chased and bullied by everyone, reassuring me that everything would be fine.
When did you learn to love country music?
Around 1994, I was in high school. My best friend Tina got his driver’s license first, so I’d ride him in his Subaru to school. We had a deal that if she listened Mariah Caseygeorge michael, Paula Abduland whitney houston on the way out, I listened to his shitty country on the way back. (Laughs)
She transformed me Wynonna Judd. She played me “Is There Life Out There?” by Rebaand some Cart thing. It’s Tina’s fault, because she made it cool for me. And then I became obsessed with storytelling.
How did you get to Nashville?
I had started doing karaoke contests and stuff like that. I would sing Wink Blackof “Put yourself in my shoes” and alan jackson“Here in the real world”. I really just got into it. I went to the Opryland auditions in Myrtle Beach and met who would become my best friend, Karyn Rochelle.
When I finished school, she asked me if I wanted to go to Nashville with her. So I was 17 when I arrived in Nashville.
What happened when you came here?
[Karyn and I] wrote and I [decided to go] to hairdressing school, for my “career just in case”, and ended up working for Earl Cox and their team at Trumps [Salon] do hair extensions. We did Sara Evans, Tammy Wynette, Everybody. All these women I wanted to write songs for, I ended up being their hairstylist.
At the same time, Karyn was at Crutchfield [Music Publishing] for three or four years, and then she signed with Pat Finch at Famous Music. At that time, I had several songs that I was really proud of and an artist project in the works. She took my music to Pat and I got a phone call from Pat. He said, “Come, I want to meet you.” And then he signed me [to my first publishing deal].
After some time in Nashville, you moved to New York, before returning to Nashville in 2006. What brought you back?
[While in New York]I ended up sending [a song I wrote] to my friend Beka Tischker, who worked at Major Bob. She gave it to Bob Doyle then he wanted to hear more songs. So I sent some other songs I had, he loved it, and then I got a phone call. I was sitting at the Good Enough to Eat [restaurant] on the Upper West Side across from the bar I worked at called The Raccoon Lodge. Mike Doyle called and said, “Hey Shane, it’s Mike Doyle. I want to offer you a publishing deal. It was 2006, and that was the last time I did my hair, except for fun.
I was free as a bird in New York. I got so much energy out of it and loved creating there, but I would come back to Nashville and stay there for a few weeks at a time. Jesse Frasure was my day-to-day editor, and they just put me with the right people. That’s how I met Cary Barlowe and Hillary Lindsay.
You had your first country hit with Lady A’s “American Honey” in 2019. How was that?
I blew my freaking mind. Hillary, Cary and I went to Gatlinburg together for the first time and we started writing this song there. We didn’t finish it, we just had a bunch of different ideas. We brought them all home and Jesse Frasure said to us, “You all have to finish this song. This is the one.” That opened the floodgates and then it all really started to happen.
You co-wrote one of the biggest hits of 2021, Walker Hayes’ “Fancy Like.” How fun was this ride?
I knew [it was going to be a hit]. I knew it in my soul, and I knew it in my mind. I told everyone in the room that day.
Walker says we wrote [“Fancy Like”] for people who frequent shopping malls; and we really did. We also wrote it for people like us, just normal country people [who feel like] going to an Applebee is an upgrade.
When you’re the songwriter, you’re usually not on stage, so you don’t see the reaction of a crowd. But because of Instagram and TikTok, when a lot of that stuff can be so bad and hurtful, watching people’s joy and experiencing it that way has been the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.
In addition to your success in country music with songs recorded by Sara Evans, Carrie Underwood, Ronnie Milsap and many others, you have also had great success in pop, writing songs with and for Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Little Mix and Jesse McCartney. Who have been some of your greatest champions?
Jesse Frasure, Mike Doyle and Bob Doyle. Leslie Robert gave me my first cut at RCA, then she went to BMI and she’s still my champion. Whitney Daane really love me and i really love him. Stephanie Wright and Allison Jones [are some more]. I have very good relationships with people. I’m not good weather, I’m in with them when it’s low, I’m in with them when it’s high.
Now you’re back with Bob Doyle at Purplebeat.
Now I’m back with Bob. He hired my husband, Eric Daigle, to help run Purplebeat. I feel like I’m back with my family and doing this tour with “Fancy Like” – which came out the week I signed my contract with Purplebeat. So we all win together. It feels good to be on this team.
What is one of the proudest moments of your career?
There are just too many. Most people would say their first No. 1 night or something, but I sang at Carnegie Hall a long time ago. I sang a solo on the stage at Carnegie Hall and Elaine Stritch introduced me. There was a snowstorm and the crazy thing is that I had holes in both soles of my shoes because I couldn’t afford to buy new dress shoes. They were super cute, you’ll never know, but my socks were soaked. And I was singing this beautiful song on the Carnegie stage. It probably sounds silly to most people, because I hadn’t been successful at all, but being on a stage that size was the biggest dream come true.