For the past 17 years, country artist Shane Owens has been pickin’ and singin’ across the southern United States, from Nashville to Texas to Alabama, where he grew up and still lives today. There is no denying that his roots are in traditional county music – the kind that takes you on real-life journeys with the help of fiddles and a steel guitar. While country music has evolved decade over decade, Owens has stayed true to the music he grew up listening to, and his heroes have taken notice. Randy Travis recently said, “He has paid his dues, remained committed to traditional country, and brings you songs with heart and a story; songs that will get you through the tough times and help you enjoy the happy times. He will bless you with his talent and his kindness. To Shane, I gladly pass the baton…”
Postcards Magazine recently visited with Owens about his heroes, his love of classic country music, and his new “Texas connection” that helped him produce what he considers his “best music yet.”
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us a little about growing up in Alabama.
I grew up in a small town in Alabama called Samson. You can barely find us on a map. We’re in between Panama City, Florida, and Dolson, Alabama – right on the Floribama line. The population is about 3,000, and everybody knows each other. If you’re driving to Panama City for vacation and you blink, you’ll miss us. Growing up, my first love was football and baseball, and I lettered four years in both sports. We grew up singing Gospel music in church. My grandma played piano in church and was one of my biggest influences.
How did you get your start in country music?
While I was growing up, I was listening to Mark Chesnutt, Randy Travis, and Keith Whitley. I started taking guitar lessons after high school and singing in honky-tonks and festivals like everybody starts out doing. I really got serious after I decided college wasn’t for me. I knew I wanted to be a country music singer. I started dreaming out loud, and we started going to Nashville and playing the honky-tonks and kind of cutting our teeth up there and honing our craft.
Did you ever think about moving to Nashville?
I thought about moving to Nashville like a hundred people do every day, every year, but it has gotten so congested. I grew up in the country where it was quiet. We had long dirt roads and no neighbors for two or three miles and I kind of didn’t like the hustle and bustle of going and fighting the crowds. We have been very blessed to be able to commute back and forth and not make the move. A lot of artists move there and stay two or three months, then find out its really a lot harder than they thought it was, so they go broke. By staying in Alabama, I got to open for a lot of people when I was in a home band at Cowboys in Dothan–like Neal McCoy, Aaron Tippin, and Blake Shelton. They were all starting out and would play at Cowboys. I really learned a lot from those guys – from their stage presence to how to work a crowd. The Good Lord just blessed us, and I don’t take it for granted.
Your new album is fantastic and, again, true to traditional country music. Why did you decide to record it in Texas?
I have always recorded in Nashville. I have never strayed away from Nashville, but they’ve been asking me to go to Texas to record, so we did, and the record turned out phenomenal. As a matter of fact, I will probably want to record my next record in Texas, because if you like a George Strait type of record, that’s the sound we captured. It has that Texas Swing sound with fiddle and steel guitar, and we used some of the best musicians from Texas. There are 11 songs, and every song has the potential to be a single.
Tell us about the current single, Hard Luck Girl. It’s doing really well!
You hear a lot of songs about a guy going out and breaking a girl’s heart, but from a guy’s perspective, you hardly ever hear a song about a girl going out and breaking his heart. It has really taken off. Everybody at the radio is playing it, and everyone is really loving it. We’ve had several Top 40 records and singles, but Hard Luck Girl is the fastest rising single we’ve ever had.
It is a very relatable song to a lot of people. What are your goals when writing a song?
From a songwriter perspective, you touch people’s lives with your music, and it’s real – that’s what I love about country music; you can’t fake it. If you write about things that happen in everyday life, it’s a sad song, a happy song, or a love song. There are so many emotions we go through as human beings, and when you put that to paper and put music to it, there’s always a chance you’re going to write a song that’s going to touch somebody’s life; and to see those people singing the words back to you, it’s just priceless. I always say I have the best seat in the house when I do concerts.
Looking back over the past 17 years, what have been some of the highlights of your career?
In 2018, Music Row named me “Independent Artist of the Year.” It was pretty cool. We were up against several people, and there was a lot of talent out there. That award is something I will always cherish.
On April 29, 2017, I debuted on the Grand Ole Opry on a Saturday night. I remember it like it was yesterday. That’s something every country artist dreams of. I believe when you’re a kid, if you dream of being a country music artist, you sit and watch everyone on the Grand Ole Opry. For me, it was guys like George Jones and Keith Whitley. But, when you finally get the opportunity to walk out on that stage and stand in that sacred circle where only the best of the best and country music legends have stood to sing their songs, it’s nerve-wracking for sure. But to be able to do it is a blessing within itself. I consider myself very lucky to say I’ve played the Grand Ole Opry twice – I mean, that’s the mother church of country music, and anything else is just a bonus. I think my mom went through a whole box of Kleenex – she cried the whole time, but they were happy tears.
What did you think when Randy Travis said he gladly passes the baton to you?
It has been a blessing to keep carrying the torch of good traditional country music and work with some of my heroes like Randy and John Anderson, and we’ve actually shared the stage; so, to be compared to those guys is awesome.
We love country music in Texas and have our own “country music scene.” What do you think about playing in the Lone Star State?
You can’t fool Texans. You need to play good country music and know a couple of George Strait songs. They know if you’re fake.
I’ve learned a lot from playing honky-tonks in Texas. I love Texas. If I didn’t live in Alabama, it would have to be Texas. I’ve always said Texans are like us – still well-mannered, and we know how to treat people. And, we know when we go to Texas to play, the people appreciate our traditional country music. We consider ourselves blessed. Anytime we can get in front of a crowd, we consider it a privilege.