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THE PRODUCER'S CHAIR: VICTORIA SHAW

THE PRODUCER'S CHAIR: VICTORIA SHAW

By James Rea www.theproducerschair.com

Is there such a thing as too much fun? Most producers don't even want to think about juggling the number of balls Victoria Shaw has in the air but, it's all, definitely by choice. Shaw has multi-tasking down, to the point that she could teach-it, and seems to be at her best, cookin' on all cylinders.

Victoria Shaw
Victoria Shaw

Now...eighty-five million records later, including 6 #1s, after her Academy of Country Music Award for Song of the Year, John Michael Montgomery's 'I Love The Way You Love Me', her producer CMA award for Lady Antebellum's single of the year 'I Run To You', Garth Brooks 'She's Every Woman' and 'The River', Trisha Yearwood's duet with Garth 'Where Your Road Leads', Ricky Martin & Christina Aguilera's multi-format smash 'Nobody Wants to be Lonely', two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Original Songs for the daytime dramas One Life to Live and As The World Turns, over 20 ASCAP and SESAC Awards including Publisher of the Year, Jim Brickman's Christmas single this year, co-written with Chris Allen who won American Idol and a multitude of cuts with Keb' Mo', Olivia Newton-John, Boyzone, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, Reba, Trisha Yearwood, Billy Ray Cyrus, Michael McDonald and Lady Antibellum, Shaw is back on the charts with Garth's current single 'Baby Let's Lay Down and Dance'.

But beyond songwriting, and her new niche, producing TV Stars, The Property Bros, HLN's Robin Meade, television personality Carson Kressley and actor Erich Bergen (CBS's Madam Secretary), Victoria is still doing 'that' which became, one of her initial claims-to-fame, when she 'Developed' Lady Antibellum, got them their deal and co-produced their debut album with Paul Worley...'Artist Development', for which she became, the first female producer (non performer) to win a CMA Award, for 'I Run To You...amidst producing vocals (as a hire gun) for other producers...And that takes some fancy footwork.

Needless to say, no-one was the least bit surprised when Victoria was invited to join Heart, Emmylou Harris, Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin and Estelle, at the GRAMMY® Festival at Sea: WOMEN WHO ROCK, which was created to celebrate GRAMMY-winning and/or nominated women in music or...when Shaw was invited to be a panelist on BMI's WOMEN BEHIND THE BOARD, hosted by Dave Cobb, earlier this year.

As an artist Shaw's UNDER THE COVERS series has been a staple at Birdland in New York for the past 12 years (2 or 3 shows per year) and has included a plethora of famous guests (in Country, Pop and Broadway), the most frequent of which was with Neil McCoy and Gary Burr, who Victoria laughingly refers to as her 'Musical Spouse'.

Since her own deal with Warner Bros., Victoria has recorded 5 CDs, five videos, toured extensively in Europe, including touring with Don Williams throughout the UK including performing at the London Palladium twice.

You can catch Victoria this month doing Tin Pan South with Keb' Mo' and Desmond Child but, I'm sure that her most memorable gig has to be, performing in Central Park with Garth Brooks at the 4th largest outdoor concert in history, in front of 750,000 people.

All of the above...while keeping a motherly but watchful eye on her two emerging artist/daughters, Ava and Ruby.

The Producer's Chair: What advice can you share with writers, when it comes to choosing a publisher?

Victoria: It has to be a good marriage going in. Because it's a tough enough go, as you go through it. Plus all the things kind have to fall into place. I've been in to many deals where if you go against your gut, it doesn't work out for anybody. I'm very independent that way. Any time I decide to join forces hopefully that force is better than I am. I want a really strong partner

The Producer's Chair: How do you develop new writers?

Victoria: They absolutely have to have, the writing talent gene. It's okay if they've never tapped into it, I do have some really great methods of developing that. It kind of goes first from having them discussing and observing and explaining everything, as we go into the writing process. I don't just say; "Nah that won't work". I get into really explaining why it doesn't work. Explaining why we need to be focused and pointed toward the importance of the story we're trying to convey. Then as they start to understand, they may not be able to throw out the great lines, but they start to become good editors of what makes sense and then finally they REALLY get it and become true contributors. And if you really do your job well, they go out in the world thinking they actually taught themselves. Ha! Sorry, that was for my own amusement.

The Producer's Chair: How would you compare the development that you got, when you were signed to Warner Brothers, to the development that you give your clients today?

Victoria: You know, here's actually the thing about back in the day and I'll sound like a dinosaur but, back in the day, they did take their time and try to develop artists. My method of developing an artist is completely different, but the goal was the same. I came to Warner Brothers with a lot more experience though, than a lot of green artists you know, so they're developing process with me was...I was already a very well known songwriter when they signed me. I'd already done TV and plenty of interviews. So when I work with artists, I draw from a lot of experience...not only producing artists but performance coach, they're interview coach. I'm pretty good at teaching how to do an entertaining interview while still being careful.

The Producer's Chair: Are you ever called upon by other producers to, assist with their artist's vocal performance, in the studio?

Victoria: Yes but I can't drop any names. I really enjoy getting a great vocal. I'm not just recording them and getting the vocal. I have tricks up my sleeve. I'm a singer. I can really do things that are a great advantage to producers. You don't have to be a singer to produce but, I'll tell you what, it is a hell of a bonus. I just have a lot of tricks, to get the vocals interpretation and texture and I'm not a pussycat...but I'm fun.

The Producer's Chair: Has music become a 'Loss Leader'?

Victoria: It's just a Wild West Show right now. Ya know what I mean? And it's not as scary, as it was at first. It's all about the new millennium. It hasn't settled into...there's no norm yet. Is it a loss leader?...I don't know...possibly right now. It's really hard for the layman to understand how much money the industry has lost especially the creators of the music. It's pretty bad and I just keep hoping somehow you know, we get things worked out in a way that it isn't so completely tilted in favor of the people that USE music to build their business yet, don't want to be fair to the creators. I still don't understand why the government gets to regulate our non-government business. It's scary times, which is why, as a songwriter, I had to start to diversify and get into producing, publishing, etc.

The Producer's Chair: Are there many opportunities for producers to present artists to labels?

Victoria: Whenever I have an artist to bring around, I just like to take my time and develop the artist and then bring them in.

The Producer's Chair: How have you diversified as a producer?

Victoria: I keep getting hired for these interesting alternative projects. I don't mean alternative music, I mean…alternative acts. Some how I have found myself producing people who have very successful careers on TV and as everyone's knows, other than radio the best way to sell product is with TV. There's a lovely, creative, lucrative outlet there that I enjoy and I'm interested in. I've always looked at things like …"Okay, everybody's going left…how can I maybe go right, cuz its not as crowded.". And in the process I get to keep honing my skills and getting product out there. I'd like to think that I'm good at thinking outside the box. When I got together with Robin Meade in the beginning I told her "Do not expect radio to play you. TV celebrities do not get embraced by radio, BUT…you are on TV 6 hours EVERY DAY. Let's come up with a different plan". So I introduced her to a company that licensed albums and put them in all those Kiosks in Target, Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond and she sold REALLY well. We did two albums like that and everyone came out happy. Lately, I've been working with The Scott Brothers (aka The Property Brothers) and that's been a really lovely working relationship. The thing about the Scott Brothers is that they have actually penetrated mainstream country more than I had told them they would! Ha. Their first first single 'Hold On' got some Billboard action and they've had hit videos on GAC. They are extremely hard working, wonderful guys. They are very protective of their "brand" so everything they do is first class. I have so much respect for them and they are "good people".

I'm also producing Erich Bergen who starred in the movie Jersey Boys (playing Bob Gaudio) and now is on Madame Secretary every Sunday being seen by over 12 million people every week. Erich is not a country artist so that's also fun for me for a bit of a change.

The Producer's Chair: Have you ever had that desire to own or run a label?

Victoria: (Laughing) No, not at all. But I am surprised that there's not more phone calls from the big labels asking me to develop their talent. It's not something that I think about much though. I just think it's kinda funny, cause they've seen what I can do.

The Producer's Chair: What are the biggest challenges facing artists today that they didn't have to face in the past?

Victoria: They better be up on their social media. I am so tired of giving that lecture and I do a lot! There are certain artists I work with who are all about social media and there are some artists its like pulling teeth. It's their responsibility. Even if you're amazingly talented, you're working against me and you're working against the industry to help YOU. Its too bad that we live in a time when you're social media platforms and numbers matter, but they do and unless you're the second coming and we've never seen ANYTHING like you before …you need to be active. You need to help the people who are trying to help you. If you're under 25 years old it should just be part of your make up. I always say " I should NEVER have more twitter followers than my artists". I need a partner…I'm producing your record, you work on making more friends out there. I live with two teens who use it in their daily lives. This is just the times we live in. When I started working with Hillary Scott (even before Charles and Dave) she worked myspace like she was on a mission. I loved that about her! If I had grown up in the days of youtube…I would've been obsessed with putting content up there. I would have seen it as a great big stage that I get to perform on all the time!

The Producer's Chair: How do you recommend that, artists and songwriters go about 'writing-up, with the big boys?

Victoria: They won't write with you. I don't even have time to write with all the big writers I'd like to write with. Stop trying to write with the big guys. Find the next up-and-coming big guys. All the people I grew up with in this town like Gary Burr, I met when we were starting out.

I met Garth when he was starting, Marcus Hummon and Chuck Cannon. 'Talent attracts Talent'. I found my class. Believe me I tried to get those big boys to write with me and they wouldn't and now I realize first of all, not to be rude but really...what gave me the right to go to some really big songwriter and think he'd write with me? I understand we all think that way but, try to find your class. Try to find talented people that are up and coming. Stop looking so far ahead and find the talent that fits you.

The Producer's Chair: Are you planning on recording another album?

Victoria: Eventually yes but I'm so busy, that always takes a back seat to everything else. But definitely...and that's fun.

The Producer's Chair: Your daughters Ava and Ruby's artist careers, have come a long way, since you were last on the show. Are you developing, producing and/or managing them?

Victoria: No I'm not...No I'm not...No I am not...Oh no I am not...in big letters...I am a big believer in parents not doing that. What I have done all my life is, expose them to the Arts and expose them to things that, I love. If I was a sports person, I would expose them to sports. I have gently given them suggestions, when I thought it could help but, I think the best way for my kids to learn from me, is through observing. I think it's really an unhealthy thing for the parents to be grooming the kids. For me, I just don't think it works. It's not a good dynamic.

I think they are frighteningly talented. Do I think they have that gene from their parents...absolutely but, every time people hear them sing (and they're amazing) I get; "You work with them?" No, I did not, they observed...they saw me teaching other vocals so they got the lessons without me sitting them down. They saw me producing vocals, they saw me coaching, they heard...but I never ever...cuz that is not a good thing. That's actually a pet peeve of mine.

Read other Producer's Chair interviews:

The Producer's Chair by James Rea - Victoria Shaw

The Producer's Chair by James Rea - Tom Hambridge

The Producer's Chair by James Rea - Tony Brown

The Producer's Chair by James Rea - Michael Knox

The Producer's Chair by James Rea - Forest Glen Whitehead

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