Conceived to working class Irish American parents on the 4th of July, Independence Day, 1972, McNally was born on Long Island, New York on St. Patrick's Day March of 1973. Citing early influences such as Jim Henson, Uncle Remus, The Yellow Submarine and Star Wars, McNally's sensibilities were definitely shaped by the events and imaginations of the day. While her parents weren't very political they were sympathetic to the elements of change that the 1960's had ushered in. They encouraged their daughter to exercise her will and her mind. They, though being of moderate means, supported her in her interest of music. She graduated the same high school that produced such folk heroes as Lenny Bruce, Lou Reed and Run DMC.
After high school she went on to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Social Anthropology at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was there, nestled in the heart of Amish country that she began writing songs, playing live and putting together her first recordings. She entered the music business almost by accident when on a whim and being a fan of their album 'The Trinity Sessions', she passed a tape to Margo Timmons of the Cowboy Junkies. That one small act eventually led her to Los Angeles to begin her recording career at Capitol Records.
Her debut album released in January of 2002, "Jukebox Sparrows" garnered rave reviews and revealed itself as a surprisingly confident musical and lyrical offering for such a young songwriter. Rolling Stone Magazine gave it 3 Â½ stars and likened her to a young Mick Jagger. "I don't believe in boundaries of gender, race, genre, age or time. I don't see that any of the true thinkers of any time ever played into the stereotype of who they were said to be. I understand that music is entertainment but I'm not entertained by smoke and mirrors, I'm entertained by substance and a solid groove."
Jukebox Sparrows did very well at AAA radio across America and was on high rotation at WXPN (Philadelphia), WFUV (New York), KGSR (Austin), WDST (Woodstock) and Cities 97 (Minneapolis). In the year preceding it release and the year thereof McNally toured extensively including a summer tour opening for John Mellencamp, as well as support performances with Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. She also did TV appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, The Conan O'Brien Show and the Late Show with Jay Leno.
On both "Jukebox Sparrows" and her subsequent independent release and collaboration with Neal Casal, 'Ran on Pure Lightning' an EP of all original material for (Morebarn Records) she surrounded herself with musicians whose credits include Bob Dylan, Neil Young (Jim Keltner), Bill Withers (James Gadson), Tom Petty (Benmont Tench), Joni Mitchell (Greg Leisz) and B.B. King (Bob Glaub), Little Feet (Bill Payne), Dickie Simms (J.J. Cale) and the list goes on. Sounding more like a lost classic than a sophomore attempt, 'Ran On Pure Lightening' goes down like hot apple pie with a great big softball scoop of ice cream. Likened by No Depression to the Oh Brother sirens McNally seems to be on track for a long career.
Early in 2004 in between Rufus Wainwright tours and having subsequently left Capitol Records and relocating to New Orleans, Louisiana, she self-produced 'Run for Cover', a record of covers on her own label, Tail Feather Records. The recording includes compositions by the likes of Sam Cooke, Jimmy Reed, KateWolf, Chuck Berry, Julie Miller, Gillian Welsh and Bob Dylan. She was joined in the studio by some of New Orleans finest musicians, with Tony Hall on bass, Raymond Weber on drums, David Easley on pedal steel/lead guitar and Grammy Award winner Engineer Trina Shoemaker.
"Run For Cover" is a personal experiment in time, those songs in the here and now as they are. I wanted to see where I was at as a musician, could I be a one take Jake? It was an investigation of purity and a test of ego to see if my will was in line with my heart and my voice. Each of those writers were and are transcendent warriors of perception, their words are like arrows that go straight to the core. To sing them is an honor, to sing them right is no small challenge. The record was a personal report card. Recording it in New Orleans was a simple decision", she recalls, "if making this record was a personal report card then it is the spirits of New Orleans that hold the red pen and ultimately will tell me if I passed or not."
Geronimo is Shannon McNally's long-awaited follow-up to her celebrated debut recording, "Jukebox Sparrows." Due for release in early Spring 2005, Geronimo is produced by guitar player extraordinaire Charlie Sexton, whose production credits include Lucinda Williams and Los Super Seven, and rides in with the kind of spirit and grit that defines all that is Americana rock (music). With its edges sanded, its tone older and deeper, "Geronimo's" scale and scope is sweeping, yet still retains an intimacy that is distinctively Shannon McNally. The archetypal invisible watchers who peopled Jukebox Sparrows have returned wiser and more knowing, having seen and experienced far more than they'd bargained for. Joined again by a Magnificent Seven-style lineup (Tony Garnier, Tony Hall, Ian McLagen, Greg Leisz, Raymond Weber, Charlie Sexton and Jared Tuten), Shannon blooms anew with a uniquely personal collection of original music whose spirit is as brave and ageless as the great warrior whose namesake it proudly carries.
Check out the artist's website:
1. A Change Is Gonna Come
2. It's all Over Now Baby Blue
3. I'd Rather Go Blind
4. Honest I Do
5. All My Tears
6. Bring It on Home
7. Going Back to Memphis
8. You Really Got A Hold On Me
9. Brother Worrier