Shelly Colvin is a natural performer; in fact, she has been performing since the age of 4, and she’ll be bringing her blend of Southern rock and folk music to Stagecoach on Sunday, April 27.
Shelly Colvin grew up in Huntsville, Ala., and her father was a Baptist minister of music. She was singing gospel songs in church before she even started school. Her mother and grandmother were her music teachers, and she even sang in a trio with her parents, touring churches throughout Alabama.
“I was singing in church; I was singing in plays; and I was real active in the community theatre,” Colvin said during a recent phone interview. “It was always a part of my childhood, but there was a period of time when I was in college where I wasn’t really performing much, and I just wanted to be with my friends. It’s always been something I’ve just come back to.”
When I asked her what growing up as the daughter of a Baptist minister was like, she joked, “How much time do you have?”
“It was great. My parents are amazing people,” Colvin continued. “I feel like it prepared me to be a very well-rounded person. He was a minister in a small country church in rural Alabama. It was very rural, and we lived in the city, and I went to city schools. I was around of a lot of different groups of people, and it was really helpful being around people in the country and city-folk. It prepared me for a lot of things and gave me some salvation, for sure.”
She also said her parents were not as strict as people may assume. “They were very open-minded people. … They were OK with me listening to rock ’n’ roll on occasion. They weren’t too overbearing with rules.”
While gospel music was a major influence on Colvin, other unique influences can be heard in her music.
“The Louvin Brothers were a huge influence for me early on,” Colvin said. “They were from Alabama, and I think listening to their records helped me learn how to sing harmony. I definitely gravitated toward the sound in that music. I feel like they were in the house all the time. I also listened to all the bluegrass players and a lot of country artists: I listened to Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.”
She elaborated on how Emmylou Harris has influenced her. Her sound has been compared to the cosmic-country sound that Emmylou Harris was part of with the late Gram Parsons. She cited ’60s folk-rock groups as a big influence.
“I’m a huge fan of those artists,” Colvin said. “I think The Byrds were one of the biggest influences on our music today. Emmylou is for sure a big influence of mine. I’m sitting here with my little Yorkie, who is named after Emmylou.”
Her debut album, Up the Hickory Down the Pine, included the track “Pocket Change,” which has brought her some attention. She said producer Ken Coomer, formerly the drummer of Uncle Tupelo, deserves a lot of credit.
“It was a lot of fun,” Colvin said. “Working with Ken Coomer on that record, he’s such a great player. ‘Pocket Change’ is a little bit of a bar song; it’s an up-tempo kind of a vibe. (Ken) heard that and just spoke out and said, ‘I think we can make this a really big John Bonham kind of vibe on the drums.’ We recorded it, tracked it, and I needed a roots element to really ground it.”
Shelly Colvin made a promise to Stagecoach attendees.
“It’s going to be one hell of a band, I’ll tell you that. We’re going to soak up any minute of time that we have,” Colvin said. “When I play, I don’t like to play the song as it is on the record, so there will be some surprises. We’ll extend the songs and have a lot of fun.”