New Mexico’s teen sensation Chevel Shepherd handily won the crown in Season 15 of NBC’s The Voice thanks to a positive mental attitude equated by sweet, rich voice that is beyond her 18 years.
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However, any carefree cheer that sold her to a studio audience of Voice fans is replaced by earnest contemplation on her heartfelt new song “The Letter.” Portrayed in her debut music video, premiering Friday, the song captures the feelings of a young girl who has lost her mother.
“The lyric that really struck a chord with me is ‘keep looking up,’” Shepherd tells American Songwriter about the tune, written by Julie Wood and Kelly Collins. “It gives a sense of hope in the song whilst other parts are sad. A message of: look for the brighter things and look ahead towards the good. I immediately fell in love with this song as even though there’s sadness, there’s hope. I remember turning up the volume in the car and listening to it with my mom and both of us crying and in that moment we knew if we felt this way, there are so many families that may need this message in the face of grief.”
As for the sonic nature of “The Letter”, produced by Todd Tidwell (Kelly Clarkson, Cody Johnson, Reba, Ashley Monroe) and recorded at Starstruck last year, the track solidifies Shepherd’s commitment to a more traditional country sound she brings throughout the din of her forthcoming EP.
“When I was choosing songs for my EP, I really had to think about how I wanted to get my style of music out into the world,” she explains. “So, I went across the board choosing upbeat songs, songs about love, songs about life and a ballad such as ‘The Letter.’ Each song tells a story and storytelling is one of my favorite things in music. Each song I chose defines who I am as a country music artist.”
It’s certainly a gamble for a young artist such as Shepherd to release new music against the backdrop of so much social and political unrest in the United States. But in a testament to the strength and resilience of her generation, this talented Zoomer shows no fear in forging ahead despite what is going on in her periphery.
“There is absolutely no uneasiness about releasing music while we are in the midst of chaos,” she tells American Songwriter. “I think music is the food of the soul and can heal people in so many different ways. If anything, we should be putting out music right now because music is what connects us all. I hope fans listen to the story and can connect in some way. I hope this song makes them cry, makes them happy and makes them hopeful so that they ‘don’t give up right before the miracle.’”