Conroe Singer-Songwriter Finds Mentoring More Significant than Fame
“Every now and then, one comes along. One of those singers that you remember the first time you heard them for the rest of your life. Ok, that’s a dramatic statement. But those are the emotions that I am feeling right now upon hearing this jewel of a singer-songwriter named Shellee Coley.” — Music News Austin
Shellee Coley is one impressive lady, although she is far too modest to say so. Texas born and bred, she followed her dream of becoming a Christian singer-songwriter all the way to Nashville, where she attended Belmont College and was on the verge of signing a record deal.
The downside: she would have to give up creative control of her music.
Making the difficult decision to walk away led her in a direction she could never have imagined.
Although Coley had never thought of herself as a mentor, that’s exactly what she has become. Drawing on the inspiration of a favorite teacher, she began teaching at songwriting camp and quickly realized that there was a need for teen and pre-teen girls to have a safe space where they could come together and talk about issues affecting their daily lives, as well as learn about the music business.
In 2012 she began working with young songwriters, teaching at camps and holding private classes at Red Tree Recording Studio and with Real Life, Real Music. Considering her work with aspiring young artists to be some of the most important she does, Coley encourages students to find their own way in the music industry, which can be difficult to navigate. Born out of that work, she also started her own company called Circle Sessions; a creative arts mentoring program for girls and women.
In these small circle sessions, Coley encourages the girls to “shine your light,” build each other up and to get to know themselves as individuals and within a group setting. She uses journaling exercises, games and art projects to gain a better understanding of their emotional intelligence. The focus is not just on music or faith, though Coley sees both as vital parts of the process. Many of the participants may be struggling with faith as they go through the difficult teenage years, so she tries to create safe spaces for them to share their thoughts on all subjects. Coley is quite open about her journey. Watching teenagers struggle with their identity, she poses this question: if you don’t know yourself, how can you know God? She encourages transparency and honesty, seeing herself not as a guide but more as a companion along their learning curve.
In the past several years Coley has spent most of her time playing regionally, but also toured through Tennessee, North Carolina and up the East Coast, opening for Mark Germino at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, as well as being one of the featured supporting songwriters at the 2014 Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival. She is currently working at Red Tree Recording Studio as the Creative Director as well as recording a new EP, slated for release late 2016. For a free download of her music, go to https://noisetrade.com/shelleecoleymusic.