Shanna Jackman: Practicing the art of giving through music

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Shanna Jackman (PHOTO BY JUSTIN MAYOTTE PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY SHANNA JACKMAN)
Shanna Jackman (PHOTO BY JUSTIN MAYOTTE PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY SHANNA JACKMAN)

Shanna Jackman is the United States military’s biggest fan and you should be hers. Raised by both a musical and military family, it’s no surprise that she has pursued a career as a singer/songwriter with her main focus being military support. Jackman is a true American country artist with a passion for singing the National Anthem, riding her motorcycle, and dedicating her life to the men and women who have dedicated theirs to our country.

Jackman’s love for music started during her early childhood. Although she didn’t start taking music lessons until she was 12 years old, her household has always been full of music.

“My mother would sing to my sister and I growing up, so she loved all types of music too,” Jackman said. “I grew up listening to Patsy Cline, Barbara Streisand, to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. As I grew older I was inspired from Broadway music (because I also love theater) and artists like Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Celine Dion, Alanis Morrisette, Jewel, Martina McBride and Faith Hill. These artists are just a few that shaped me and helped me to find my own style.”

As a lover of music with obvious talent, Jackman continued playing music during her adolescence, teenage years, and throughout college. After college, she wrote and recorded music with several different bands.

“I’ve worked with bands called ZeroDrift, Shanna Jackman Band, From Within (did one show haha), Not in Kansas and then back to Shanna Jackman Band,” she said. “Now I am working on a new project. I will be working with the incredible singer and musician, Adam Fox, and we are working on an acoustic duo band called Whiskey & Wine.”

Through Jackman’s experimental years playing with different bands, she learned who she is as an artist. With each experience, she gained the skills which were put towards the release of her self-titled debut EP in 2013.

“I started writing pop/indie/folk music when I returned from college and started working with Jim Ligor from ZeroDrift (local band),” Jackman explained. “When I then realized country music is my comfort zone and where I feel best suits my voice I formed the band Not in Kansas. We played for years together as a cover band but I knew that I wanted to show my fans that I can do more than play other people’s music.”

Although Jackman had some success with Not in Kansas, she pushed herself to write original music and release a solo EP.

“I was connected to the great artist/songwriter Nancy Beaudette and her friend Connie Mims,” Jackman explained. “They made it their mission to work with me so that I can produce my first EP. Over many Google hangout (video chat) sessions, we wrote six songs that were later recorded on my first EP in Nashville in 2013. All of which was funded via Kickstarter by my friends, family, fans and even strangers!”

Since the release of her debut EP, Jackman hasn’t stopped working and looking towards the future. She is currently working on putting together an acoustic duo band with Adam Fox called Whiskey & Wine. Jackman and Fox met coincidentally but it turned out to be fate.

“A couple of years ago I was performing at Loretta’s in Boston and a group of gentleman came up to me and asked if their friend (who was having his Bachelor’s party) could sing a tune for us,” Jackman said. “I said ‘absolutely’ and he took the stage and rocked it. His name was Adam Fox. A few months ago, Adam reached out to me on Facebook and asked if I remembered him and was looking to start a duo and asked if I was interested. Of course I couldn’t forget that voice of his and his British accent when he spoke, so I quickly agreed to meet with him and sign him up for a show I had that September!”

Although Jackman is a true country singer now, the first music she recorded was covers of songs by non-country artists such as Mariah Carey, Jewel, Alanis Morrisette and Amy Grant. Jackman has explored different genres of music but deep down country music has always been in her blood.

“My maternal grandmother was a huge country fan,” Jackman said. “She even looked like Patsy Cline, they would say. She always had country playing in the house when my mother was growing up. My grandmother passed away when I was young but her love for country music transcended generations. My mother and aunts always had country playing and it was always fond memories for me whenever I heard it playing! My father’s family is very much into bluegrass music. Growing up I got to see another side of country music that is truly enjoyable to watch and listen too!”

Jackman herself has a many favorite country musicians, not only because of their music but also because of their military support which is very important to her.

“Lee Greenwoods song ‘God Bless the USA’ was played at every opening and closing ceremony during my participation in the Skills USA state competitions in high school,” Jackman said. “I remember hearing that song and being so proud of my country and our military that I feel that really set the foundation for my passion to give back. Many people are familiar with Toby Keith and his patriotic songs but artists like Trace Atkins, Johnny Cash (“Ragged Old Flag” is amazing), Darryl Worley, and also my friend and local artist Ayla Brown.”

“I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice is one of Jackman’s favorite patriotic songs.

“It has a special place in my heart, mainly because I have come to know the family of SFC Jared C Monti, a Raynham native who lost his life in June of 2006 in Afghanistan while trying to save one of his own,” she said. “SFC Monti is a Medal of Honor recipient and his father Paul still drives Jared’s truck every day. I’ve had the honor to drive in the truck as well and have Paul and Jared’s truck in my military tribute music video for my song ‘We’ve Got Your Back’.”

Jackman has had the honor of opening up for some of country’s biggest names such as Ronnie Dunn, Blake Shelton, Sara Evans, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Darryl Worley, Lee Brice, Little Big Town, Collin Raye, Jo-Dee Messina, and Steve Azar.

“What a truly amazing experience to have the opportunity to open up for these artist and play for their fans,” Jackman said. “I have been fortunate enough to meet many of them as well, which was also very special. Lee Brice stood out for me because he was the most welcoming, kind hearted person. He even played a song he was working on for me in his dressing room and gave my mom a hug.”

With many country artists paving the way and inspiring Jackman, she has turned into quite a talented songwriter. Her songs are authentic since she writes about real events that happened to her.

“All the songs I have written I have experienced (good or bad),” she said. “It’s the only way I know how to write. Even when I would choose cover songs to perform, I had to be able to connect to that song in some way because if the passion is not there, then it’s not worth singing.”

On April 16, 2016, Jackman was awarded the Unsung Hero Award by Limelight Magazine. The Unsung Hero Award was given to Jackman since she has made a significant contribution to many local military organizations without asking for anything in return. She has made it her mission to never forget the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. She has used her music to support the military in many ways, most recently with her video for the song “We’ve Got Your Back.”

“I was shocked, speechless, to say the least,” Jackman said. “I was grateful to Limelight for recognizing artists that do more than perform on a stage.”

Jackman was honored to receive this award but also felt shocked and somewhat uncomfortable because she was not expecting recognition for the military work she does.

“I don’t give back in order to receive anything in return,” Jackman explained. “I feel it’s my duty as an artist, as an American and as a human being. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money but I grew up with love and faith and the meaning and importance in helping others. I felt I had a purpose to give back to those that risk it all for our freedom and our country. It’s the least I could do.”

Jackman has always been passionate and appreciative of the military forces and has used her platform as a musician to support of the military is any way she could.

“I’ve always had a passion for my country but I think that when I made it my mission to give back was when I began to perform the National Anthem in police uniform,” Jackman explained. “I was a reserve police officer for some time and began performing the Anthem locally representing my town. I was honored to represent my department and sing my country’s Anthem but it was the feedback I would receive especially from those in our military after I sang that began overwhelming for me.”

Jackman’s connection with many personnel from the military sparked her passion to support them.

“I began to hear their stories and learn what it meant to be a Gold Star parent,” Jackman said. “It was so important to me to be able to perform the Anthem in a manner that was respectable in hopes to thank those who served under what that song represents and to give the passion the song so rightfully deserves. In performing it, I hope I gave inspiration, hope and passion for our country and our Military, and made Americans feel proud to be American.”

Jackman has been inspired by many soldier’s stories but she also comes from a military family herself.

“I actually do have members of my family that were in the military but I was actually unaware of that until just these past few years,” Jackman explained. “I knew my father served but other than that no one in my family talked about it. I began creating my family tree on ancestry.com and have come to know a very long line of military members. I have family members that served in Revolutionary War, WWI and WWII, Korean War, Desert Storm, during peacetime and so much more. I learned that my maternal grandmother even sang for the troops!!”

Jackman has succeeded in supporting the military by performing patriotic songs and being part of patriotic events and charities.

“I hope that I am able to continue to perform the National Anthem and my song ‘We’ve Got Your Back’,” Jackman said. “I am working on more patriotic songs to add but whether it is singing or riding my motorcycle in a charity ride to honor veterans, I will continue to give back any way I can.”

Jackman’s passion for the National Anthem is evident when she is performing it so she has been asked to sing the song many times for the Boston Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics, Revolution and many other charity events.

“I can’t explain what it feels to perform our country’s Anthem and have sport fans sing along with you,” Jackman said. “Someone said to me that I have a great gift when it comes to having the honor to perform this song for others, because in that moment we are all focused on one thing: our country. It brings me so much pride to have that opportunity and part of me also hopes that if I sing it with enough passion that maybe the players will win that game for us too!”

While her military support will always be her number one focus, Jackman does plan on recording more music.

“I am heading back down to Nashville in December to record a new single,” she said. “I am very excited about this next song as it represents the line of work I do as a public safety dispatcher and to all my brothers and sisters in law enforcement and our first responders. I wrote the song with Lance Carpenter and Ayla Brown. I hope to record a music video for it after it is completed as well.”

With new music on the horizon, Jackman focuses on the message the wants to present, the people she wants to inspire, and the stories she wants to tell.

“I just hope to continue to write about my story, my experiences in hopes to reach others that have felt the same, and/or to inspire them in the process,” said Jackman “I want my new music to show all sides of my style while providing my fans with what they know and expect from me. The beauty of music and the lyrics of a song is that it can transcend generations, races, cultures etc., it can bring people together and connect in a way that I am not sure what else can. I feel so blessed that I have an opportunity to do that.”

Jackman hopes to inspire others with her passion not only music but also her support of the military because it is a cause that she finds extremely important.

“Just want to thank you for talking with me especially about my passion for giving back to our military and their families and I hope that others can and will do the same,” Jackman said. “Sometimes it just takes a simple smile and thank you to someone you see in uniform. On Veteran’s Day or any day, it’s important for them to know they are not forgotten.”

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