Shane McAnally on the Best Songwriting Advice He’s Received

Shane McAnally is one of Nashville’s most prolific writers, and he wouldn’t be where he is today without some sound songwriting advice. The Texas native started his career as an artist, releasing his self-titled debut album under Curb Records in 2000. McAnally soon left the label and relocated to Los Angeles before returning to Nashville in 2007.

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Since then, McAnally has amassed a wildly impressive catalog as a songwriter, beginning with Lee Ann Womack‘s 2008 hit ballad, “Last Call,” to his most recent successes co-writing the score for the Broadway musical Shucked, in addition to songs by Niall Horan, Carly Pearce, and more.

Though he’s mentored many songwriters as a host on NBC’s Songland, McAnally has also received sound advice that’s stuck with him throughout his career. “The best advice I ever received as a songwriter was that you gotta show up,” he explains to American Songwriter. “Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you want to. You don’t want to write, you don’t want to sit down and do it, but it’s funny what’ll happen if you just commit to that. So the words were, ‘Sometimes, God will walk through the room, but you gotta be there when he does.” So I try to just go to the room.”

McAnally is nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2024 for Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical, and Best Musical Theater Album for Shucked. He teamed up with Brandy Clark to write the music and lyrics for the Tony Award-nominated musical that debuted in 2023. “It really is the first time I can wholeheartedly say the nomination feels like a win,” he said about his Songwriter of the Year nomination. “I just can’t believe it. I was truly in shock.”

Shucked being nominated for Best Musical Theater Album this year is huge,” he adds. “Doing that record was unlike anything I’d ever done because they actually record the entire record in a day,” he explains. “They start early in the morning and they play through the show. The singers have to do it perfectly. It’s like old-school where everybody’s live. Ultimately, it’s done in one take, and that was so strange and exhilarating. I’ve never made a record at that pace and didn’t even know what was going on. I was just trying to hold on for dear life.”

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for ACM

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