Don’t let the fact that Kenley Shea studies her bible every Monday night give you the wrong idea. This country pop cutie rocks! Having recently attended her “2011 Concerts In the Park” appearance in La Verne, California, your crusty chronicler can assure you that Kenley Shea can be a bundle of fun and a breath of fresh country air.
In the words of fellow Les Femmes De Musique performer Kirrily Keayes Shea is “kind of a mix of Carrie Underwood and Sheryl Crow. She has one of those voices that just feels good to listen to. Her catch phrase is ‘seek the joy’. I love that about her. She’s a super positive, awesome person. Very beautiful inside and out. She has such a positive spirit.”
Shea is also multi-talented. Not only is she a singer but she is also a songwriter, a model and an actress as well. Perhaps most important, this Los Angeles angel has a refreshing honesty about who she is and is not afraid to share it with an audience. Shea will speak of Jesus and often freely talk about her spiritual beliefs.
But where did it all begin? Apparently, it began years ago. Shea, now based in L.A., was actually born back east in Delaware. She’s been singing almost all her life going back at least as far as her private concerts during bath time when she was a child. Shea also freely admits to taping herself with the family VHS video camera and table-dancing at her grandmother’s house.
Her first public performances date back to her singing in the church choir and at sing-a-longs. She often attended theatre camp in the summer as her love for acting and singing continued to grow. By the time she reached middle school she was already performing as a cheerleader and singing the national anthem at sporting events.
In high school she became involved in musical theatre and what was once a hobby became a career objective. After graduation she attended Ohio Northern University where in 2008 she graduated with a BFA in (Musical) Theatre. The various arts-related experiences she had (and would continue to have) would help to sharpen her various performance skills and talents and help her grow as an entertainer.
Since then Shea has gone on to build an interesting and at times even impressive resume. She played the lead girl in the famous Doritos “Not Too Cool” commercial, portrayed Kelly Clarkson’s best friend in the music video “I Do Not Hook Up” and has also appeared in music videos by the likes of the Kings of Leon and Nickelback.
Shea recorded her 2010 debut disc, Seek the Joy, on the KSMusic Ltd label, in Nashville where she appeared as a lead singer on CMT’s hit TV show, The Singing Bee. The 8-track album contains tunes she often performs live.
The album’s title track, “Seek the Joy”, is a musical translation of her attitude toward life. and was, in part, inspired by a biblical passage from the book of John. It’s a truly upbeat number, co-written by Shea and a great introduction to the singer herself.
The second selection is “This is My Mexico”. The song paints the picture of someone who can appreciate what they have and find comfort and happiness in just spending vacation time with someone special in her own backyard. This is followed by “If That Was a Lie”. Here Shea performs with Henry Paul. Paul, along with Kim Parent, Dale Oliver, Wayne Baird, Bobby Huff and Mark Lonsway provided background vocals on the project. Other artist appearing on the album include Bobby Huff on drums, Mike Brignardello and Don Kerce on bass, Mike Rojas on piano, Dale Oliver and Adam Shoenfeld on electric guitars and Ilya Toshinsky on acoustic guitar and banjo.
“Somethin’ to Look At” is another song co-written by Shea. It’s a cute, “girls’ night out” kinda tune. While a line like “He’s hotter than a laundrymat” might be stretching it a little, it’s still a fun little track. (Come to think of it, your randy record reviewer used to look pretty good in nothing but a cowboy hat too not so long ago so-hey-we get it, mmmkay?)
The next number is “Show Me”. This yet one more cut on which Shea demonstrates her talents as a singer. This is followed by the last tune co-written by Shea, “Kiss Me Now”. This is a lovely song that once more slows things down a little and provides Shea an opportunity to share a little with her audience.
Critic’s choice goes to “Dream About This”. This is a strong, steady song that brings Shea out of her good, little country girl shell. It’s also one of those fun, jilted good ol’ gal empowered tunes that all female country singers need in their repertoire. (This song will make any man wonder just what Shea looks like in a little black dress.) The closing cut is “Love her Like You Should” and it wraps up the recording nicely.
Shea may live in Hollywood but she’s a smalltown girl at heart. That’s charming in a place like L.A. where people can often lose focus on what’s really important in life. Shea (like yours truly) became interested in different activities in which she excelled when she was younger. Now though Shea has begun to find focus in her music. She is presently in the studio working on new material with the likes of LA singer/songwriter/producer Jeff Solomon of Razorlight Music Group and preparing for her next live gig. Shea can be a lot of fun in person. Still, if you can’t catch her live right now her Seek The Joy will tide you over until then.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.