Shane McAnally grew up in the small town of Mineral Wells, Texas with a head full of dreams. Today he is a two-time Grammy winner, as well as an ACM and CMA winner for producing and writing. According to Billboard Magazine, "In Nashville he is the hottest ticket in town."
In our EXCLUSIVE interview, Shane lets us dive into his insane world, which includes how he feels about his four recent CMA nominations, a rare feat that has him competing against himself in the Song of the Year category.
Dolly Parton tops his list for a dream collaboration project. McAnally has realized his Broadway dreams by writing and producing a new hit musical called Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical; all this while juggling and balancing an amazing family that includes a husband and two-year-old twins.
PopWrapped: With every success story we see or hear about, dues always have to be paid. I know you personally, and remember years ago in Hollywood we were both working at an Event Company making $85 for the day. My, how times have changed. Do you remember some other times you were just scraping to get by, and what pulled you through and kept you chasing the dream?
Shane McAnally: There are so many times when I was barely scraping by. My mom and my grandmother helped to support me into my 30s. I always worked, but life in LA was hard to sustain on bartending and odd jobs. There really isn't a job I haven't done. I worked anywhere that would hire me, but was always miserable doing anything other than music. I used to pray that God would give me another passion so that I could enjoy something else. I guess now I'm glad he never did.
PW: I know you were chasing your dreams in Hollywood for many years. Tell us a little about the success of your song "Last Call" with Lee Ann Womack, and how that shifted your path back to Nashville and your southern roots.
SM: I had lived in Nashville for years before moving to LA. I was completely burned by a lost record deal and publishing deal. I just wanted to go somewhere where the shadow of those things, and my being closeted, didn't haunt me. After playing acoustic shows and making a few independent projects over an 8-year period in LA, I went back to Nashville to write for a week. On that trip, I co-wrote "Last Call" and it was recorded a few months later by LeeAnn Womack. Not only was LeeAnn my absolute all-time favorite singer, she was coming off of huge success and I felt like this could be the beginning of my restart in Nashville. I really had nothing else going on in LA, and I was just looking for a place to land. You don't actually make money on a song for at least 9 months after it goes to radio, so I worked at a restaurant and rented a room from my sister until the song had finally made its chart run.
PW: Please share with our readers about your friendship/partnership with Kacey Musgraves. You have now written and produced on her freshman and sophomore albums, Same Trailer Different Park in 2013 and Pageant Material in 2015. How did you two cross paths?
SM: Kacey and I met through a mutual friend named Ashley Arrison. Ashley is a great singer/songwriter and we had worked a lot together in LA. She met Kacey and just thought the 2 of us would hit it off. She was right. Kacey and I had an instant creative and emotional connection. I just wanted to write with her everyday. We both grew up in Texas, and although she is 13 years younger than me, she is an old soul and knew herself more than any artist I had ever met. That meeting was another giant leap in my life and career, and so many things started to make sense.
PW: Being a two-time Grammy award winning writer and producer, Is there anyone you personally admire and would love to work with in the business? (Hint, hint..how about Dolly Parton?) That's me being selfish, but I think you could give her a new sound, new flair, and new hair!
SM: Actually, Dolly would be someone on my short list. I try not to force collaborations, as everything that's ever worked for me has happened completely organically. So, as far as wanting to work with artists, I usually just wait and see if somehow our paths naturally cross, much like that first meeting with Kacey. I have a song that I wrote with Brandy Clark on the new George Strait record, and that was definitely a bucket list moment. I've wanted to hear George sing one of my songs for a long time. He was a huge influence and one of my heroes, so even after winning these awards and getting so much attention for my songwriting, I felt very validated that he recorded something I was a part of.
PW: You have now written songs for many of country music's biggest stars, including Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, and Lady Antebellum =, just to name a few. Please tell us about your first #1 song on the country charts with "Somewhere with You," performed by Kenny Chesney? Although, on a personal note hearing you perform it at random performances around Hollywood for years, I prefer your version!
SM: Although "Last Call" was my first cut, "Somewhere with You" was really what started the run that I have been so fortunate to be on. When an artist that is on top of the world and the charts, such as Kenny, records one of your songs, all of a sudden everyone else wants to. I have now had 4 #1 singles with Chesney, and his support and friendship is probably the most important piece to my commercial success.
PW: What's next for Shane McAnally? Besides taking Nashville and the music industry by storm, possibly heading to Broadway, and holding down the bigger job of parenting a most adorable set of twins?
SM: I've recently completed work on a musical with Brandy Clark called Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical that we hope is Broadway-bound in 2016. It has had an incredible run in Dallas over the past month, and it is the most creatively fulfilling project I've ever been a part of. I also just finished producing Sony's Old Dominion's debut record that comes out in November, and am close to finishing co-producing Jake Owen's 5th Sony project, due out in 2016. I also co-produced Sam Hunt's Universal debut that has gone on to be the biggest selling country record of 2015. I hope that the next chapter looks similar to the current one. I love the people I work with and can't believe how happy I am to get up everyday and do what I always dreamed of doing....and that's not even mentioning the most important pieces, my husband and 2-year-old twins.
Up next, Shane will be appearing at the 49th Annual CMA awards on November 4th at 8 pm on ABC.
He is nominated for 4 awards--two for producing Album of the Year with Kacey Musgraves and Luke Laird for "Pageant Material." He is also nominated for producing Single of the Year with Sam Hunt and Zach Crowell for "Take Your Time." But most impressive of all, he is nominated twice in the Song Of The Year category for writing both "American Kids" with Rodney Clawson and Luke Laird, performed by Kenny Chesney, and "Take Your Time," written by Sam Hunt, Josh Osborne, and McAnally, performed by Sam Hunt. This has only happened 5 times in CMA history.
Keep up with Shane by following him on Twitter.