Shawnee Kilgore is an Austin, TX singer-songwriter living a crowd-funding fairy tale.
In 2014, Shawnee launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her fourth solo album, A Long and Precious Road. In her video message to potential backers, a tribute to Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, she held up a card that said "I'm learning to ask for help." This vulnerable and honest phrase struck a chord for one particular music fan perusing Kickstarter projects on his rare off time -- Joss Whedon. Whedon, one of Hollywood's most prominent directors (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The Avengers) loved Shawnee's music and her voice, and backed the project, taking the first step towards what would become the unlikeliest of creative partnerships. A few days later he emailed to say he couldn't get her song out of his head, and wondered if she would be interested in working on a co-write with him. After a mere four months they put out their song “Big Giant Me" as a single. “It was so clear that we were speaking the same language,” Joss said, “It's been a little bit magical.”
In October 2016 they released their long awaited collaboration EP, “Back to Eden.”
The record was recorded at Ocean Studios in Burbank, CA, and features an all-star crew of supporting musicians, including Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins on fiddle and backing vocals. Whedon wrote a large portion of the lyrics, and Kilgore wrote the majority of the music. “The songs are very personal,” says Whedon, when asked about the process. “It opened up a lot of stuff. It was actually a kind of painful experience to write some of this stuff down, as simple as it was.”
Shawnee would be the first to tell you that the boots you just complimented her on cost $3 at a thrift store. She'll give the real answer when you ask how she's doing and she's just had her heart broken. That's the honesty with which she speaks, writes, and lives. She sings to you about all the things you know—love, life, laughter and loss—but does so with such fiercely personal and poetic truth that you can't help finding, and understanding, your own world through hers.
“This just felt right,” Whedon said. “To speak in her voice and to find out the things we share and the things that are universal between two people who are at radically different places in both of their lives, and on the map — it’s really exciting for me.”
In June 2016 they shot a music video for the title track starring two beloved Whedon collaborators, Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins and Ashley Johnson. The video was shot by Jay Hunter ("Much Ado About Nothing") on two Alexa 65's, a cutting edge large format from Arri that until then had only been used on the highest end of big budgeted feature films, such as "The Revenant" and "Rogue One." The Back To Eden shoot marked the first micro-budgeted independent production to have ever used this camera, as well as Whedon’s music video debut.
Shawnee moved from her hometown of Bellingham, WA to Austin, TX in 2010. Her most recent solo release, A Long and Precious Road, earned her a place among Texas Music Magazine’s albums of the year, as well as being named their #1 Songwriter of Distinction, an accolade shared by Kacey Musgraves and Leon Bridges.
“Shawnee Kilgore is that rare breed of songwriter who can lead you through familiarity and somehow always end up with you somewhere surprising,” says longtime Austin songwriter Danny Schmidt. “Her songs are personal and intimate, snapshots of tiny images very close up, of little observations so familiar and yet so keen that they reconnect us to our every day while somehow managing to disconnect us from our everyday enough that we can notice the preciousness of what’s always surrounding us. It’s a hell of a nifty trick! Shawnee’s in my very highest category of songwriter: Those whose next song I can’t wait for them to write.”