We had the good fortune of connecting with Shea Welsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shea, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success I would say is tenacity. I have developed the ability to persist, stay consistent and remain focused and determined through all of the highs and lows of navigating the music business. There is a certain amount of natural ability or talent that is necessary to participate as a performer and creative in the music business but after you rise into that 90th percentile, you then need the ability to continue to get up every day, work on your craft including practicing, songwriting, promotion, touring, teaching, arranging, producing etc. while also taking care of your personal relationships and your relationship with a healthy mind and body. This process is constantly in flux and ever evolving as technology, societal tastes, life circumstances and factors beyond one’s control such as the recent pandemic present themselves.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
So these music careers are constantly changing and evolving. Here is a synopsis, “a week in the life” of what I am currently doing and the bands I’m involved with. Right before I sat down for this interview, I sent out charts I wrote for an arrangement of celebrated Motown writer Marilyn McLeod’s “I Get High” for original vocalist Freda Payne of “Band of Gold” fame who is recording a new version for her next record. I’ll be heading into the studio soon as producer and guitarist for the recording session. Tonight I am meeting up with Grammy Award Winning vocalist Hila Plitmann to finish writing a new Christmas song we’ve been working on as well as rehearsing music for my upcoming record that she will be heavily featured on. I will continue pre-production through the end of the year and head into the studio in early 2021 to record. I am preparing for my next big live performance on this November 20th, “Shea Welsh & Friends Live from Bertolt Brecht’s House”. Brecht is a famous German composer best known for his song “Mack the Knife”, he resided in Santa Monica starting in 1941 during his exile. The show will feature many of my compositions sung by Hila, Freda and Michelle Coltrane, John and Alice Coltrane’s daughter whom I’ve worked with over the last eight years as guitarist, co-writer, producer and musical director. I will also perform a few of my instrumental compositions. The show will be recorded for a live December broadcast on all digital platforms in conjunction with the German non-profit Friends of Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House. Stay tuned for more details. Last week I did an interview with TV Indigena based in Panama which dealt with the work I do for non-profit Geoversity. Geoversity is the caretaker of 11,000 acres of rainforest in the heart of Panama. I have been involved with them for about ten years and have traveled there many times to participate in conservation efforts, performances at The Panama Jazz Festival and many performances with local musicians and musicians from indigenous tribes. This affiliation allows me an outlet to give back to Mother Earth in very impactful and meaningful ways. This weekend I will direct online Zoom rehearsals for my three bands that comprise The Shea Welsh Institute of Jazz. Since graduating from college, I have always taught as a “wing” of my career. The institute was started three years ago and was a natural extension of all of the teaching knowledge I had gained. I am very proud of the work we have done. Some of our major accomplishments include playing at the 2019 John Coltrane Jazz Festival in North Carolina, a performance at the 2020 Panama Jazz Festival and multiple Downbeat Student Music Awards. 

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So if my best friend came out to visit, I’d first take them to Moonshadows Restaurant in Malibu. The food is amazing and the restaurant overhangs the Pacific Ocean so the view is like no other. Then we’d head to The Santa Monica Proper Hotel bar to partake in their beautiful ambiance and deep selection of red wines. Pre covid, we’d go to my grad school alma-mater and USC Summer Guitar Seminar employer to see a USC Football game at The Coliseum. We’d also take in a Jazz Bakery concert at the Moss Theater on the Campus of The New Roads School in Santa Monica. Another employer of mine where I teach a few of their Jazz bands. I also live a block from the beach in Venice, so I’m sure we’d hit the waves as well! 

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

There are many people and factors that have had a significant influence on my career in music. First I would need to thank my parents John and Suzanne for instilling a work ethic, a moral compass and an open playing field for career exploration and artistic expression. Next I would have to thank my high school wrestling coach Gary Scholl who instilled the tenacity foundation. We practiced just as hard whether we won or lost. Our workouts consisted of two hours of constant movement, challenging oneself to improve everyday. We would often sweat off five to six pounds throughout the session! Grueling. Next up would be my college classical guitar instructor Michael Decker. He held me accountable at all turns and would not accept inferior work. It was often hard to meet his high standards but ultimately necessary in order to be successful. I also had a mentor/bandmate Terry Battle that challenged me to take my skill set and develop it even further. After college, I was good enough to audition into one of Baltimore’s better jazz bands “Fastlife”. The band consisted of very seasoned pros. I found myself needing a lot of work to raise up to their level. Terry firmly but lovingly guided me through this next growing phase with hard truths and clear guidance. There are many more people who played a large role in my development but unfortunately there is just not enough room here to thank everybody. You’ll have to wait for my book to come out!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many people and factors that have had a significant influence on my career in music. First I would need to thank my parents John and Suzanne for instilling a work ethic, a moral compass and an open playing field for career exploration and artistic expression. Next I would have to thank my high school wrestling coach Gary Scholl who instilled the tenacity foundation. We practiced just as hard whether we won or lost. Our workouts consisted of two hours of constant movement, challenging oneself to improve everyday. We would often sweat off five to six pounds through out the session! Grueling. Next up would be my college classical guitar instructor Michael Decker. He held me accountable at all turns and would not accept inferior work. It was often hard to meet his high standards but ultimately necessary in order to be successful. I also had a mentor/bandmate Terry Battle that challenged me to take my skill set and develop it even further. After college, I was good enough to audition into one of Baltimore’s better jazz bands “Fastlife”. The band consisted of very seasoned pros. I found myself needing a lot of work to raise up to their level. Terry firmly but lovingly guided me through this next growing phase with hard truths and clear guidance. There are many more people who played a large role in my development but unfortunately there is just not enough room here to thank everybody. You’ll have to wait for my book to come out!

Website: www.sheawelsh.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sheawelsh
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheawelsh
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sheawelsh
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shea.welsh.3
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Sheawelsh
Other: https://www.instagram.com/shea_welsh_institute_of_jazz/

Image Credits
1st photo sitting on amp with LA in background taken by Mark Maryanovich

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