Born in Quantico, Virginia on October 22, 1968, and raised in Frankville, Alabama, Shelby Lynne Moorer would be forced into a position of independence from a young age. At the age of 17, Shelby and her sister witnessed the murder of their mother at their alcoholic father's hands, who then killed himself.
on her own
Left to fend for themselves, Shelby and her younger sister left Alabama for Nashville, Tennessee. Accompanying them was Shelby's husband, the high-school sweetheart she married after the death of her parents (she would divorce him shortly thereafter).
Shelby and her sister were raised in a country music-loving household. Their father was a local singer and their mother taught the two girls vocal harmony and, preceding her death, had planned to form a singing trio with her daughters. In spite of the tragic turn of events, Shelby remained committed to her longtime musical aspirations, hence her choice of Nashville as a destination.
Shelby supported herself and her sister through club performances and singing competitions, still managing to find the time to make a series of demo tapes. The demos eventually made their way to The Nashville Network, and landed Shelby a gig on the program Nashville Now. This televised performance proved to be Shelby's big break, and a duet with country star George Jones would follow, as would contract offers from four major labels.
testing the waters
In 1988, Shelby signed a contract with Epic Records, and her debut album Sunrise was released a year later. Two more albums would rapidly follow: Tough All Over in 1990 and 1991's Soft Talk. Shelby's music was well-received critically, and in 1991 she was awarded the Country Music Association's Horizon Award for best rising talent of the year. Yet consistent radio airplay and major exposure continued to elude her.
Furthermore, the confines of the new country music industry had begun to torment Shelby. The Nashville music scene was a highly commercial one, and Shelby, performing within the dictates of her producers and songwriters, was beginning to feel like more of a marketing package than an independent artist.
In 1993, hoping to break away from the Nashville scene, Shelby left Epic for the small independent label Morgan Creek. Her first project with Morgan Creek, the album Temptation, experimented with Western jazz and swing. It proved to be Shelby's biggest commercial success to date, selling 200,000 copies. Shortly following the release of Temptation, the music division of Morgan Creek went under, and Shelby moved on to her next label, Magnatone.
Her creative experimentation continued with her fifth album, Restless, which was well-received both critically and commercially. The video for the album's first single, "Slow Me Down," was chosen by Country Music Television as the Independent Video of the Year.
i am shelby lynne
In 2000, after having relocated to Palm Springs, California, Shelby began work on her sixth album. The recording was released under yet another new label, Island Records, and reflected a new sound thanks in great part to the participation of producer Bill Bottrell. Bottrell was well known for his work on Sheryl Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club, and Shelby was determined to collaborate with him. Despite his initial hesitance, Shelby's insistence eventually won Bottrell over, and the final product was the album I Am Shelby Lynne.
I Am Shelby Lynne borrowed from rock, jazz, and R&B styles, and rewarded Shelby with a wide audience as well as a Grammy for Best New Artist -- even though she was twelve years into her career.
Having finally won her well-deserved recognition, Shelby went to work on her next album, Love, Shelby. Produced by Glen Ballard (the man behind Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill), the release was even more diverse than, and as commercially successful as its predecessor. Given her creativity and determination, we can't be sure what to expect next from Shelby Lynne, but we can be sure to see something soon.