Shelly and Cindy have performed together for the past 8 years as a children's duo. A talented songwriter, Shelly writes much of the group's material. The mother of two teenage daughters, Shelly swears that everything she writes about is true! Using stringed instruments such as the guitar, banjo, Dobro and mandolin, as well as various percussion instruments, puppets and entertainment props, Cindy and Shelly encourage the children (and adults, too!) to participate with hand motions and singing. Their song repertoire ranges from traditional and contemporary folk songs to Disney tunes and original songs.
The duo are regulars at many festivals and libraries throughout the mid-Atlantic states. They are also members of Young Audiences of Virginia and in 2001 became visiting guest artists with Young Audiences of Maryland as well as Young Audiences of Eastern Pennsylvania. Performing as "Cindy and Shelly," they present their educational programs in pre-schools and elementary schools throughout Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Cindy and Shelly released their debut album, self-titled, "C. Shells," on the Southern Branch Music label, in 1995. Fun for all ages, the album features 10 original songs and two cover songs. "C. Shells" was awarded a Parents' Choice Silver Honor in July 1998 for excellence in children's music. In March of 1998, they released their second album on Southern Branch Music titled, "Animal Tails," a fun-filled journey of songs about some of the animals in the world we live. In October 1998, "Animal Tails" was awarded a Parents' Choice Approval Seal. Their third album, "Just for Fun!" released in July 2001, features all new songs as well as some old favorites.
With a delightful mix of songs and musical styles, "C. Shells" will have children of all ages laughing, smiling and stamping their feet. From rock 'n' roll to Cajun, waltzes to ragtime, blues to bluegrass, Cindy and Shelly want everyone to have fun at their concerts, so check your repertoire of dog barks and duck quacks and bring them to the show!
Country Star Magazine
NOTES 'N' RUMORS - LOCAL COUNTRY NEWS
By Millie Voliva-Wiggs
C. Shells, the children's musical duo of Cindy Ressler Kays and Shelly Craig have just been awarded a 1998 Parents' Choice Silver Honor for their first children's album, released on Southern Branch Music, self-titled "C. Shells."
Parents' Choice is a non-profit organization that evaluates children's media. The Silver Honor is given to those products which exemplify excellence and are designed to entertain and help children develop universally ethical attitudes and rigorous standards and skills. The Silver Honor is highly prized for production and human values.
Kays and Craig have been performing children's music for the past 6 years in the Hampton Roads and Richmond area. They have recently done several tours of southeastern Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware. A favorite at pre-schools, libraries and festivals, C. Shells also performs educational programs in elementary schools through Young Audiences of Virginia.
The duo met while working at a local Norfolk, VA guitar shop and decided to pool their talents and their names (a combination of both their first names) to form C. Shells.
Both women play a variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin, banjo and more. In March of this year the duo released their second album on Southern Branch Music titled "Animal Tails." Thirteen songs about animals and the world in which they live make up this lively collection.
"C. Shells" is a fun-filled musical treat with ten original songs ( eight were written by Craig with two penned by Kays), along with cover songs "A Place in the Choir" by Bill Staines and "State Laughs" by John Forster. The musical styles of the album cover Cajun ("Bayou Boogaloo"), reggae ("The Little Sand Flea"), blues ("The Play Dough Blues"), Ragtime ("Betcha Can't Guess What the Puppy Did"), folk ("Where's the Cat?"), spooky ("Halloween Ghosts"), lullaby ("Counting Sheep"), country ("The Cowboy Song"), rock 'n' roll ("Roll, Rocky Roll"), and a waltz ("The Butterfly Ball.")
For more information about C. Shells as well as information on booking please contact Cindy Kays (757) 464-6407 email: CshellsVA@aol.com.
The Currents - The Virginian-Pilot
February 22, 1996
'C. SHELLS' IS MUSIC TO CHILDREN'S EARS
By Joan Stanus
'Musical Duo go all out to keep kids clapping, smiling and swaying.'
They hiss. They howl. They growl.
They jump up and down, roll around on the floor and play "weird" instruments. They even enlist the help of furry creatures with silly names like Cow Patty, Gaston Gator and Sandy Claus to entertain their audiences.
Cindy Ressler and Shelly Craig, known to hundreds of children throughout Hampton Roads as the musical duo "C. Shells," will go to just about any length to keep kids clapping, smiling and swaying during their performances.
But these seasoned performers don't mind. It's all part of the fun, they say.
"It's much harder than it looks to entertain children," said Craig, a 40-year-old mother of two daughters. "It's completely different from performing in a bar for adults. Children are not just going to sit still for an hour and listen quietly."
"But they're much more appreciative. It's so great seeing 30 kids doing your song; it's a real trip. And when you finish, they come up and hug your leg and give you kisses."
Her musical partner added: "When you can get kids and their parents together, bonding, it's just a great feeling, we have so much fun doing this."
Veteran musicians with more that 35 years of performing experience between them, the two women hooked up three years ago after discovering a mutual love for children's music. Since then, they've become regulars at area preschools, outdoor festivals, mall shows, birthday parties and other children's events.
Now their fans don't have to wait for a scheduled concert to hear the upbeat, action-packed music of C. Shells. The Norfolk-based duo recently released their first album, simply titled "C. Shells," on the Southern Branch Music label. Recorded at Mid-Ease Studios in Norfolk, the album, which consists largely of their own songs, took a year to produce.
"It was a lot more complicated than we thought," said Ressler, a 40-year-old Winona resident. "We went way over budget...and since it was out first experience, we learned a lot about doing this. But we wanted to do it right."
This was no mere stand-up-and-sing-into-the-mike production. The women finagled a friend into hauling his tuba all the way from Florida so he could contribute to a ragtime number. They asked another friend who plays the violin to help out on a ballet. Craig, a Portsmouth resident, brought in her two daughters to do voice-overs on a song called "Betcha Can't Guess What the Puppy Did," and a whole pack of people howled and screeched for "Halloween Ghosts."
"We ended up talking a lot of our friends into coming and working on it with us," Ressler said. "Shelly's daughters even designed the cover."
A prolific songwriter, Craig wrote most of the music for the album.
"My children are an endless source of ideas," she said. "They're pretty mischievous so you have to have a pretty good sense of humor."
"Where's the Cat?" for example, chronicles a mother's hunt for a misplaced pet who has been subjected to all sorts of mistreatment from her children - dunked in the toilet, dressed in ribbons and bows, and trapped in a bag. The "Play Dough Blues" teaches kids to mix colors. And a lonely alligator finds romance in the Cajun-influenced "Bayou Boogaloo."
During that song's recording, Craig, an admitted perfectionist, even called the zoo to find out the exact sound of an alligator's hiss.
"They thought I was crazy," she said with a laugh. "But I wanted everything to be correct. We're trying to teach these kids things, too."
While writing another song about bats, she joined the national Bat Conservatory and contacted scholars at the Bat Institute in Texas to learn as much as she could about the flying mammals.
Craig and Ressler met a few years ago while performing separately in the area music scene. A guitarist, music teacher and songwriter, for years Craig had been doing solo performances in local clubs and venues such as Portside and Waterside, specializing in a variety or acoustic music, from blues to bluegrass. For a while, this Hampton Roads native also gave guitar lessons at Ramblin' Conrads, a legendary Norfolk music store - now-closed - that served as a folk center for musicians and fans for decades.
Ressler came to the area in the early 80's from her native Pennsylvania to manage a Newport News record store after a couple years of performing on the East Coast college circuit. In 1990, she moved to Norfolk to work at Ramblin' Conrads and become actively involved in the area music scene. She still performs with several groups: herringbone, The Doorway Singers and Young Audiences' "The Music of the People."
She and Craig met at Ramblin' Conrads and hit it off immediately. When an opening arose in "The Music of the People," Ressler recommended Craig for the spot. They still perform together in the four-piece group, which caters to school-age children.
But the two women yearned to do songs that appealed to younger audiences as well as their parents.
"I always sang for my kids at home, and when their preschool would have entertainers, I'd always go and see what they were doing," Craig said. "One day, it just suddenly hit me, 'Duh. I could do this.'"
"And when we went to festivals, I realized that there was really a void that needed to be filled."
She and Ressler decided to join forces and call themselves C. Shells, a moniker that combines both their names.
"I learned her songs and she learned mine; it was that easy," Ressler recalled. "Our first preschool was pretty rough...but now we've got the hang of it."
During concerts, they perform a range of music: their own stuff, old favorites like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "If You're Happy and You Know It," popular offerings from others and a few Disney hits. They use a range of instruments, too: guitars, mandolins, banjos and such percussion instruments as cabasas, graters and shakers. The duo also draws on puppets, sunglasses and other props, whatever it takes to hold their fans' interest.
"Ninety-nine percent of our music is geared to entertainment," Craig explained. "But we're always trying to teach something, too, only we don't tell the kids. And we always throw in a few inside jokes for the parents. We want them to enjoy the music right along with their children."
"As a parent, I know Mom and Dad are probably being forced to listen to those songs over and over again. We want them to have fun, too."
Check out the artist's website:
1. Roll, Rocky Roll
2. State Laughs
3. Little Sand Flea
4. Betcha Can't Guess What the Puppy Did
5. Halloween Ghosts
6. Where's the Cat?
7. Bayou Boogaloo
8. A Place In the Choir
9. Play Dough Blues
10. Butterfly Ball
11. The Cowboy Song
12. Counting Sheep