Mansfield High Alumna Debuts First EP Album and Music VideoFeb 26, 2015 02:52PM ● By Kevin
Shaina Rhodes graduated Mansfield High School in December 2006, and after a long journey, has released her first extended play album (self titled). Her single, "Raisin' Hell" has its own music video (see below) thanks to her hard work, and signing with Nashville producer Rusty Varenkamp.
Her recent move to Music City, according to her website, has made one thing clear - her energetic live shows are quickly drawing a large and enthusiastic fan base.
"Teaming with writer/producer Rusty Varenkamp, her first EP poetically captures those unforgettable moments of coming into one’s own, yet spotlights her ability to turn any gathering into a party," her bio says. "Her video single, 'Raisin’ Hell' – co-written with Varenkamp and Preston Brust of LoCash - proves that Shaina’s brand of party country is in full-force."
Mansfield Magazine: How long have you wanted a career in music? When did you begin learning to sing?
Shaina Rhodes: I can attribute the beginnings of my singing career back to my younger days of putting on concerts in the living room for my family and friends ha! Just like any other kid, I was a superstar at 8 you know?!
But in all honesty, I wanted a singing career ever since I could walk and talk. I always enjoyed entertaining people around me and having a good time, even at such a young age I was raisin’ hell. I had a passion to sing and dance growing up and did so any chance I could. I immersed myself in anything that had to do with the art of singing and dancing as a child. Whether it was a school talent show, choir, cheerleading or dance teams; I always felt comfortable in front of people rather than taking a back seat.
MM: From your first lesson to now, take us through your music life. Take us through the ups and downs, and some of your major accomplishments.
Rhodes: I never really stuck with lessons. I tried a couple times to go to a vocal coach when I was in high school, but the structure of it all didn’t reside well with my over-zealous nature. I wanted to be creative and create music and not learn from books, if that makes any sense.
I really found my vocal training via social media. I would listen to different musicians on YouTube and whatever moved me the most I would try and learn. I would follow artists who inspired me and learn from their techniques. Then I’d sing for hours at the house trying to hone those techniques while creating my own tone and sound.
However, the journey of finding out what type of genre and or style of music I wanted to sing had its ups and downs. I tried out for singing competitions such as American Idol and or The Voice. I had some success and would get a call back for a second look/audition, but when I was asked, “What type of artist would you categorize yourself as” I had no answer. I just knew I loved to sing, but the question at hand was what type of music I wanted sing.
My music taste is very eccentric. I love anything from old school rock ‘n’ roll, old and new country and anything pop. The biggest stepping-stone for me was when I started to lead worship with Open Door Church in Burleson. I began singing with the team in February 2012. There I learned that my voice is a tool and just how to use it. Not to mention I became more comfortable with my stage presence.
The experience of singing with that particular worship team really allowed me to grasp my southern roots. The sound of the team corresponded with a more southern rock ‘n’ roll feel. For example, when feasible, musicians from The Casey Donahew Band would help play for Sunday Worship. The band’s electric guitar player, Aaron "A.C." Copeland, and drummer, Donte “Taz" Gates, jammed out with the Sunday team, which really gave us a unique and upbeat sound, which in turn resonated a style that I built from for my own musical endeavors.
Moving forward, I was able to set forth with the tools I gained and started to write music of my own. I also thought it best to pick up the guitar and learn. I started to play at different open mic nights in Fort Worth and Dallas. I gained experience and was able to work on my craft. I then went for it. I had the opportunity to perform in Florida at the Gaylord Resort for some industry people and there met Nashville TN producer, Rusty Varenkamp. Which in turn leads me to my biggest accomplishment yet of my first music video for my single “Rasin’ Hell” as well as the release of my EP, Shaina Rhodes. I’m taking it day-by-day and working on my live shows. I've got some fun shows coming up in downtown Nashville and I plan on raisin’ hell and having a good time doing it.
MM: How special is Mansfield and the Mansfield ISD to you? How did the city and school district shape you into the woman you are today?
Rhodes: Mansfield is very special to me. It’s where I found my love for country. Never was there not a house party or local business/bar that didn’t play some country tunes to get the vibe going. The country genre is a soundtrack to my adolescence, filled with memories of laughter, tears and happiness. I mean come now it’s Texas, wouldn’t have it any other way.
I grew up in Mansfield and formed the most incredible friendships, not to mention family, who have supported this crazy ride of mine. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know how I would be doing what I am today. They always lift me up when I am down and make me feel like I can accomplish the impossible when I feel defeated.
My time in Mansfield helped shape the woman I am now. I’ve grown thicker skin, a drive and thirst for success and not to mention a confidence that cannot be shaken. I love Mansfield, and no matter where I go or live, it will always be my home.
MM: Talk about getting signed. How did it come about? How different is Music City and Nashville from where you grew up? What was your reaction to getting signed?
Rhodes: The journey of being here in Music City and getting signed with producer Rusty Varenkamp is God sent. After listening to my music Varenkamp asked me to come down to Nashville for a week to see how well we worked together. Within that first week he cut two of my songs for a demo and offered me a contract to produce me. It took me a while to wrap my head around it all.
Moving to Tennessee when I’ve been raised in Texas was a big pill to swallow. I was very passionate and driven about my music, but home is where the heart is. I decided to take that plunge and moved last year, Feb. 1, 2014. Not going to lie, it took some getting use to.
Nashville is great and I love the people, but starting from scratch was difficult and not to mention it took some time. I decided to work promotional jobs on the side in hopes to meet new people. Luckily it worked out in my favor. I was slowly making this town my new stomping grounds.
I’ve come to really love this city. I like to compare it a little to Austin, TX but with more of a country flare. The people here are really beautiful inside and out. There’s a bad seed or two you may come across, but that’s in any city or state. You’ll just have to know to throw them out sooner than later!
All-and-all, I’m loving the experience, and I am so ecstatic about the journey ahead. I know it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be very hard and sometimes it’ll feel down right impossible. But I have a feeling it’s all going to work out. I’ve got God on my side, an amazing team of people behind me and not to mention friends and family who’s support alone will get me to the top!
MM: How about the video/song? What was the inspiration? What are your favorite parts about the video and song? How about the EP? How many tracks? When will it be released?
Rhodes: The song, “Raisn’ Hell” was born the day myself, Varenkamp and Preston Brust from LoCash came into the studio for a writing session. Brust asked me, “Shaina, what song do you hear on the radio and wish you wrote.” To those who know me, this won’t be any surprise; but, it was “Timber” by Pitbull ft. Kesha. Emphasis on ‘Kesha.’ I am a pretty solid fan of hers. I told the two I wanted a fun upbeat party anthem that just put people in a great mood. That’s my nature. I’m always trying to have a good time.
We sat there and collaborated for a bit and then the idea of ‘Let’s raise some hell’ came about. Varenkamp laid down a beat and then it was on. Line after line the lyrics described a full-forced hell of a time. Lyrically, the song was done under an hour. We just knew where we wanted the song to go and pushed the pedal to the metal.
The video was of course inspired by the vibe and lyrics of the song. We really wanted to capture what a night with me looks like. The video describes to a tee my personality and energy! The location of the set was at a barn out in the outskirts of Franklin, TN. When we talk back-roads, this was pretty back-roads as it gets. Took a little under an hour from Nashville to get onsite.
Filming was an all day event and I loved every single minute of it! However, my favorite part of the video was that not only did my friends from Tennessee come out, but also my friends and family all the way from Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, North Carolina and Kentucky either drove or flew out just to support and be apart of the filming! I was so overwhelmed with love and emotion. I will never forget what they did for me, and I am oh so ever grateful for each and every single on of them!
The EP was released alongside the video. There are five tracks included and you can find it on iTunes as well as other musical circuits such as Spotify. This EP really captures those unforgettable moments of me coming into my own. It showcases my brand of party country with influences of rock and pop into the genre. I plan on hitting my shows with full-force and letting people see what I’m all about.
MM: Where do you see your career in 2-5 years?
Rhodes: These next few years are really filled with endless opportunities. They sky’s the limit and I fully intend on reaching for the stars. A big aspiration of mine here in the next few years is being able to share the stage with some of my biggest influences and role models. I pray that people are able to connect with me and get on board with what I am doing. I can’t give you a perfect picture of what the next 2-5 years will look like, I can only say I want to be able to do music for the rest of my life.
MM: Special shout outs/thank yous to Mansfield people?
Rhodes: First and foremost is God. I’d like to take a second and give thanks to even having come this far. My family of course, they’ve been my rock and foundation. I have to give a special shout out to my baby brothers, Joshua 8 and Jacob 10. They are without a doubt my biggest fans and biggest promoters! There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since I’ve moved that they haven’t called or checked up on me. They tell me stories of how they’ve told their classmates, teachers and even their little league baseball team about checking out my songs and video. They’re a solid management team for sure!
Not to mention, my mother and father for all of their love and support. Thank you for never doubting my dreams, always believing in me and striving me to better myself. Without the two of you I would be nothing. I love y’all to the moon and back!
My student government teacher Mrs. Stephanie Shackelford for always pushing me, being tough yet caring at the same time and always being a shoulder to lean on! And then there is Mrs. Mary Boyd-Long who was always so supportive of me in anything I did, an amazing cheerleading coach and so willing to lend an hear to all my high school drama, ha!
And last but definitely not least, the friendships that Mansfield has given me that will last a lifetime. Each and every single one of you, there are too many to name but you know who you are, have built me up to succeed. Always there in a moment’s notice, just a phone call away. It doesn’t matter what city or state I’m in. There is no distance than can separate a true friendship. Thank you for all that y’all do. I truly appreciate the love and support.
Shaina Rhodes - Raisin' Hell