Jennifer Shaw is a gifted songwriter who has been performing professionally for the majority of her life. Grounded in classical training, and with her contemporary Christian project being heard on radio stations across the U.S. and on four continents, her passion has always been music. "I remember being three and getting very frustrated when I couldn''t get what I was hearing in my head to come out right on the piano," she says. "I always knew I would be a musician."
She was right. Throughout her childhood she studied piano, and honed her performing abilities in the theater. Graduating summa cum laude from Hope College with dual degrees in piano performance and voice performance, she went on to the world-renowned Manhattan School of Music where she received her Masters of Music with honors in vocal performance. While there, she studied with some of the biggest names in classical music, including her primary instructor, the legendary Theodor Uppman, and has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including Carnegie Hall and the Crystal Cathedral. She has appeared in over 40 productions, as well as innumerable concerts, and with her dance training, acting ability, and beautiful singing voice, was considered a "triple threat". After her graduation, however, she felt that God was calling her to something different.
While still performing regularly in New York, Jennifer went on staff for Young Life in full time ministry. She also served as the youth pastor at her church. It was here that she really felt God calling her to live a life centered around Him rather than her own ambitions. A few years later, she felt led to move back to her home town of Columbus, Ohio where she accepted the position of music director at Faith Covenant Church, a capacity in which she is still serving. She was also on the voice faculty at Cedarville University for five years, and sang for several years with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, both as a soloist and in the symphony chorus.
Jennifer''s church asked her to start a band to lead the worship, a complete departure from what she was used to. Confident of her musicianship both in the opera and musical theater, she knew that this was a very different game, and was concerned that fronting a band would be a huge disaster. However, as the band progressed, she realized that her training in composition and music theory made it possible for her to write music for the band from her own heart, and put into music what she thought God was teaching her. "This music is so joyful, and freeing at the same time," she said. "It''s very different from the intricate beauty of classical music that I love, but it is very real to me, and very immediate for the listener. People can relate to my songs because they''ve been there themselves, and they understand these experiences."
In the fall of 2003, Jennifer''s father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig''s disease, a tremendous blow to her family. The day after his diagnosis, she wrote the song "Be Still". It was a desire to have her father hear her songs professionally recorded that finally sent Jennifer into the studio for her first solo project at the end of 2005, and what came from that is the album "Be Still" which was her father''s Christmas present (released March, 2006). Jennifer was shocked when it sold enough copies by word of mouth to pay for the project in six weeks. She reflects, "I never really expected anything to come of it, it was really just for my dad. But the response to it has been tremendous, and now I think that God has bigger plans for it than just a Christmas gift. I am so glad that my dad was able to see some of its success, and hope that the Lord can use it to encourage many people."
Songs from "Be Still" are now heard on over 90 radio stations around the world, and Jennifer maintains an active touring schedule. Jennifer''s new project, "Finding Beauty", was released in December, 2007, and will be released to radio in January, 2008.
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