Chevel Shepherd looks forward to late-March release of new EP, video
'Everybody's Got a Story' due out on March 26
FARMINGTON — Anyone who was worried that Farmington's Chevel Shepherd might forget about her hometown when her career began to take off should take notice of the video she plans to release later this month to coincide with the release of her new EP, "Everybody's Got a Story."
The video for the single "Good Boy" features Shepherd and Charlie Gillespie, the Canadian actor who stars in the Netflix series "Julie and the Phantoms." Shepherd said it follows a "dating through the ages" theme. But the element that is likely to make local viewer sit up and take notice, aside from Shepherd's presence, is the prominent part so many easily recognizable local businesses play in it.
Scenes for the video were shot at the Rock n Roller Rink, Bowlero Lanes and at TJ's Diner in Farmington, while additional footage was shot in Durango, Colorado.
"I know those smaller businesses have been struggling (during the COVID-19 pandemic)," Shepherd said, describing the fondness she feels for those establishments. "And they're good friends of ours, as well."
It's been a year and a half since Shepherd, winner of the 15th season of "The Voice," began recording the material that wound up on "Everybody's Got a Story," and the 18-year-old Farmington High School graduate acknowledged she has had to tamp down her anxiety as the pandemic delayed its release to the public.
The seven-song collection is due out March 26 and was produced by Todd Tidwell, best known for his work as an engineer on projects by Kelly Clarkson, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Alabama, Sara Evans and Toby Keith.
"I've been patient, but I think everybody's had their own sense of frustration during the pandemic," she said. "… But I think it's the perfect time to release new music because music connects everybody."
Shepherd hesitated to name her favorite song on the album, explaining she feels like they are all her children. But she confessed to a particular fondness for "Mama Got the Chair" — penned by Nora Collins, Nick Donley and Dave Fenley — and said it was the first tune she chose to record for the disc.
"It's a call-and-response to the George Strait tune ("The Chair)," she said. "It's so unique. I would say I knew I had to record it as soon as I heard it. I fell in love with it."
The material on the EP is written mostly by up-and-coming female Nashville tunesmiths such as Kellys Collins and Baylor Wilson. But it also features material from better-established writers and artists such as Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark and even Kacey Musgraves, a rapidly rising country star who earned the 2019 Album of the Year award for her disc "Golden Hour" from the Grammys, the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.
Shepherd said she had the chance to meet Musgraves that year when they both attended the ACM Awards. Shepherd was walking the red carpet with her mentor and friend Clarkson, and Clarkson stopped to introduce her to Musgraves. Shepherd acknowledged being a little starstruck and said she didn't remember much about their conversation, but she was struck by Musgraves' approachability.
"You could tell she loved country music," Shepherd said.
Shepherd already was a fan of Musgraves' music, so it wasn't much of a leap for her to decide to record two of her songs for her EP. Shepherd settled on the title track and on "Just Like the Circus."
The Farmington native said she felt a kinship with all the writers whose work is featured on "Everybody's Got a Story."
"They told great stories," she said. "I always looked up to Kacey Musgraves' writing style. The same with Kellys Collins. I listened to the songs she sent me, and we just kind of clicked. … I think they understood the kind of music my style is. … I grew up on country music, and they told the kind of stories I wanted to sing to stay true to that."
The EP, which follows on the heels of her "A Good Ol' Country Christmas" album that came out in December, will be released amid a decline in COVID-19 transmission rates nationwide and a rapidly rising vaccination rate. That has led to an increasing amount of speculation that life in the U.S. could begin to return to normal some time over the next several months, a scenario that might include a resumption of live entertainment.
Shepherd said she is optimistic about that happening, but she understands it's important to remain patient.
"I'm ready to get back out there and perform for live audiences again as soon as everybody's safe," she said.
In the meantime, she continues to concentrate on teaching herself to play guitar and has continued to branch out into acting. She anticipates that the final scenes for her debut film "Wildfire" will be shot this year with an eye toward a late 2021 release, and she joined Gillespie in Los Angeles last October to work on a Kenny Ortega-directed production of the rock musical "Hair."
Shepherd said she found that experience very much to her liking.
"I love to sing and dance," she said. "That's an atmosphere I could thrive in."
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or email@example.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.