Shirley Lynn Music


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Cairns Songwriters - Interview by Lawry Goodwin

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Shirley Lynn MusicAn interview with Lawry Goodwin from Cairns Songwriters.
Artist profile: Shirley Lynn
Shirley Lynn has been the recipient of over a dozen awards and mentions for songwriting and is a two time recipient of Regional Arts Development Funding: a Queensland government and Cairns Regional Council support initiative for local arts and culture. As a singer/songwriter, Shirley shares mindful authenticities through her love of music and songwriting including songs about her North Queensland home. And, as a performer, Shirley draws from an extensive repertoire of original and cover songs customisable to suit any event. Over the years Shirley has been engaged at festivals, events, gigs and performances at venues in and around North Queensland. She is also a judge in the Tablelands Folk Festival Songwriting Competition held in Yungaburra each year.

And now, on to the questions...
When did you first start writing songs?
In my bedroom as a teenager, I found it cathartic and comforting writing songs after my dog "Bindi" died. I sang a song I'd written for my sister's wedding and another at the Atherton Centenary Concert in 1985 when I performed there. While I had the inclination many years ago, it was not until I engaged in Songwriters on the Waterfront with Terry Doyle around 2010 and began going to the Music on Magnetic retreats to do workshops with Kristina Olsen that I became more serious about it. At the time it was possible to attend Open Mic nights and drop into 12 Bar Blue to do impromptu performances. It was fun and a time of pushing boundaries building courage and having reason to practice songs to get them performance ready.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you write a song?
Inspiration is everywhere and anywhere. It can come from thin air, a word, an idea, a feeling, an experience or a story to tell, people you connect with or conversations heard. It can come when talking, listening to the radio, watching TV or when trying to sleep. It can come from the intention to give voice to raise awareness for a specific purpose. In more recent times, involvement in iHeart Songwriting Club has highlighted not waiting for inspiration but to practise songwriting regularly to develop the muscle with less attention on perfection and preciseness. While it's great to do that I still live with the notion that rewriting, reshaping and rearranging are a big part of the process for furthering song evolvement.

What is the funniest thing that's happened to you during a performance?
One occasion does come to mind with the asking of this question. Looking back I recollect a sense of embarrassment that quickly dissolved into personal presence with the question, "Did that really happen?" On stage - mid performance - revealing a black stretch to knee undergarment, I stood with an elasticised skirt dropped to my ankles. Wardrobe Malfunction!!! Quick recovery - self adjustment, a few words like passing notes to get as quickly as possible to the next moment - on with the show. I am reminded at times by those privvy enough to witness such an antic that it was indeed quite funny ---- to the audience anyway. lol

Which genres of music do you use in your songs?
As an eclectic songwriter and independent artist, I don't assign myself exclusively to any particular genre although Folk, Country, Country/Blues and Light Rock are genres more likely to be reflected in my songs. Genre classification is useful to allow others to see where songs fit for radio airplay and targeted audience listening.

Lyrics or music: Which comes first for you?
In times gone by, I would have predominantly sat with my guitar and evolved tunes with underlying chord shapes and lyrics with a melody shaped from the flow, rhythm and meaning of words. However, I have found the challenge these days is to become more adept at being able to create songs with different ways of starting, whether lyrically or melodically driven, writing to tracks, sometimes working with a specific key, a particular structure, using reference tracks, a drum beat or a bassline +.

Which artist past or present, would you like to collaborate with if you had the chance, and why?
I love the idea of developing versatility to be able to collaborate with any artist, any age in any genre of any style with intent and purpose to evolve what's possible. I keep working at building skills for this every time I write. For a moment I captured myself considering artists whose music has inspired and moved me in a big way like Neil Young, Kasey Chambers, John Prine, Kristina Olsen, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Carol King, Lucinda Williams .... but if this is pie in the sky stuff - a shift in my songwriting would be about writing with new artists who want to explore creative possibility for their songs with another songwriter open to such possibility too.

Which is more important to you: Success as a recording artist or performing artist and why?
What has become most important to me as a measure of success is to be at one with whatever it is I choose to do - relative to the question here - performing or recording. I foresee myself continuing to do both with the underlying commonality of songwriting between them.While some measure success by dollars earnt, popularity gained or affirmation in other people's eyes, I choose to see success as something that I take responsibility for. It's the action I take and the choices I make. You will never win a lottery if you don't have a lottery ticket. With the same sentiment, if you want to be able to achieve something more than you can do now you need to take action, do something that steps you toward that intention. Investing in oneself to realise true potential requires commitment, growth and belief. Taking risks, being reflective and real with a preparedness to learn every step of the way. Treading a path with an interest and passion for music has opened the way to meaningful relationships and opportunities that I could never have imagined. Life and world experiences are immeasurable yet therein lies a measure of success that I continue to be focused on.

How do you keep track of your ideas?
Keeping track of ideas is a necessary part of the process of songwriting. My system is at times unwieldy chaos with scrap pieces of paper, sheets and files in all sorts of places - poked into folders everywhere. Voice recorder and notes on my phone are always handy. Google Docs are great for collaborating with other writers to facilitate engagement and access together online. A big part of my organisational system is my Songwriter folders both physical and on my computer. They can be accessed for any song or songwriter I'm working with.. It's a system that has served me to date though I'm on the ready to incorporate systems that streamline processes for storage, transfer and retrieval to be able to access them from anywhere online.

Tell us about your most recent song/single/album.
My most recent song, "Temporary Time" was written with Christine Kerr during COVID and recorded during COVID in Cairns with Nigel Pegrum at Pegasus Studio with vocalists and musicians - Nikki Doll, Libby Brockenshire, Simon McMenamin, Giles Smith, Kirk Steel and Peter Ella. Christine released a lyric video to her YouTube Channel - Chariot Baldwin Music and I've since released an official music video to Shirley Lynn Music Official YouTube Channel.

"Temporary Time" is a crisis song inspired by COVID, but not exclusive to COVID. The world has experienced a time that will not be forgotten for all sorts of reasons. All things do pass, nothing lasts forever - including difficult times. As the world at large comes through one crisis it is realised that what we do matters. Our choices, yours and mine... Sure gives us something to think about in terms of the responsibility we each have, the humanity we are here to serve and the legacy we leave for generations to follow.

This Folk Rock style song will shift the listener between fragility and angst with resonant deep tones and contrasted light orchestral moments.

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