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Meet Shea Welsh of Shea Welsh Music

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shea Welsh.

Shea, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m Baltimore born, East-coast raised and a Los Angeles Transplant. I first started in music as a trumpet player in my 4th-grade school band. I fell in love with it and practiced a lot. I took lessons at school and played in the band as well as in an extracurricular brass quintet. I had my own records of my favorite trumpet players Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen that I listened to a lot.

I also remember reading Louie Armstrong’s biography which was fascinating for a kid as he led quite the adventurous life growing up in New Orleans! We had very good public school music programs in Bel Air, MD, and a suburb of Baltimore, where I grew up. It was “cool” to be in the bands. There was always music on in the house and on the car radio and coming from a large family with 6 brothers and sisters; we were always in the car driving to somebody’s sports game or boy scouts etc. So we listened to the radio a lot!

I shared a room with my older brother Chris, and around 8th and 9th grade we got our own stereo in our room. Our musical tastes started to move towards heavier rock. My first record I bought was Led Zeppelin II. That was a game changer as I remember the feeling of the aggressive guitar playing coursing through my body! At that time, a friend of the family gave us an acoustic guitar that he found at a yard sale. I began my transition from trumpet to guitar and so it went.

Through high school, I jammed with friends, and a highlight was performing Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” at my high school’s senior variety show. I ultimately ended up majoring in guitar performance which includes jazz as well as classical training at Towson University in Baltimore where I kicked everything into high gear. I auditioned into a “Top 40” band that played all over the Mid Atlantic. I developed some serious practicing habits and hung out with a few friends who would practice late into the night.

After college, I played all over MD and the surrounding areas with my own progressive jazz band, “The Shea Welsh Group,” in numerous rock and pop bands and in a classical guitar and flute duo with a Peabody Conservatory graduate Nancy Stagnitta. I gained a whole lot of experience and logged in many hours with a guitar in my hands. At this time I also started playing with a local artist “Slim Man” who had a lot of airplay around the country, so we ended up touring around the U.S. quite a bit.

Through connections I made out on the road, I ended up landing a full ride scholarship to The University of Southern California as a teaching assistant in the Studio/Jazz Guitar Department Master’s program. This facilitated the relocation to LA which I decided I had to move out of my comfort zone and take… School was quite rigorous, but I somehow managed to keep an active performing and teaching schedule going.

I started playing numerous gigs around town with my own band, shows like The Catalina Jazz Fest with Slim Man, sessions such as studio work with Raven-Symone with producer Tricky Stewart. I was also hired at the time to teach jazz bands part-time at The Crossroads School in Santa Monica. I was also hired back by USC to direct their Contemporary Music Divisions recruiting class The USC Summer Guitar Seminar.

I used all of my organizational and musical skills to also move into producing and musical directing working with many different artists including, most recently, vocalist Michelle Coltrane, daughter of Alice and John Coltrane. I produced my own record “Arrival” at the same time we worked on her record “Awakening.” We got them both signed to the Blujazz label out of Chicago. They were released in 2017, and I have been out touring worldwide promoting them ever since.

I had a few notable releases shows for my record in Bangalore, India, Panama and Nice, France and Michelle and have recently done shows in San Francisco, Wisconsin, Indiana, Miami, and North Carolina. I also recently opened my own music school in Westwood, “The Shea Welsh Institute of Jazz” which is the Westside’s newest place for 6th-12th graders to study jazz at an elite level.

For the past seven years, I have also used my musical connections to manifest a very exhilarating and significant position as Educational Director with the Panamanian environmental non-profit Junglewood/Earthtrain which is preserving 11,000 acres of vital rainforest in the jungles of Panama.

We perform and use the universal language of music to help spread the word about the importance of saving this ecological paradise. Jane Goodall is one of our associates that I have had the honor of working within these efforts.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The music business is always rough! It is extremely competitive. Sometimes cut-throat. You are always making decisions of art versus commerce. Flying equipment to performances and the crazy hours one must keep to pull off the shows is grueling.

Keeping interpersonal relationships healthy with a predictably unpredictable schedule has proven challenging but these are all definitely first world problems that fade into the background when you are up and the adrenaline is coursing through your veins, the band is firing on all cylinders and the audience is responding and definitely expressing that they are in your corner! Wouldn’t trade it for anything!

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
When you hire me or study with me, you get a very passionate and caring collaborator, mentor and leader that spends a lot of time getting the details correct so that the situation runs as smoothly as possible and/or the learning experience is deep and lasting.

If you hire my solo project “The Shea Welsh Group,” you’ll get a top-notch band with a diverse catalog of traditional and progressive jazz as well as music with rock and funk influences as well. If you hire me as a musical director, such as Michelle Coltrane has.

You’ll get a leader willing to go the extra mile and committed to getting the details right to pull off the artist’s vision for the presentation of their music and show. If you hire me to produce, I am very happy to collaborate and make sure that your ideas and song concepts end up shining through on your finished recording.

If you join The Shea Welsh Institute of Jazz or study with me privately, I will make sure you are highly challenged and I will make sure your musical knowledge and abilities are bolstered and pushed to the next level.

If you participate in The USC Summer Guitar Seminar, I will make sure that you are presented with all of the necessary information you will need to raise your guitar skills to the level necessary to audition hopefully into USC or another high-powered music school!

If you hire me for a studio session, I’ll bring my expertise as a jazz, rock, pop and classical guitar player, as well as an egoless experience, to make sure I enhance your vision for your project.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as executing my craft at the peak of my ability. So really as long as I am challenging myself to constantly be at the top of my game in all of my endeavors, I’m satisfied.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chuck Krall, Mark Maryanovich

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