Young Alumni Series

Shanna Henderson ’12 works her way to the charts in Nashville

By March 1, 2018 No Comments

Shanna Henderson’s ‘12 stage name, Harper Grae comes from her grandparent’s last name, Harper and Grae stands for “God Redeems All Equally.”

From her time on “The Glee Project” during her senior year at Auburn, her eyes were opened to how God’s love is equal and for everyone.

Henderson has taken that mentality with her on the road for her first album tour, “Break Your Crowns.” Based out of Nashville, Tennessee, she’s learned the ropes of networking and is currently in the writing and pre-production stage of her second album.

“I will start recording next week,” Henderson said. “I am writing with some pretty incredible people.”

Pat Alcher, Jennifer Hanson and more have come with Henderson to co-write songs for her next album and she said she could not be more excited.

She knew she wanted to set her roots in music and Nashville was the place to go.

“One thing Auburn did teach me was always to follow your heart and your passions, and I knew that was what I was supposed to be doing,” Henderson said.

When she first arrived in Nashville after graduation, she knew it would take work to get to where she is now, but she put in the time. She hightailed it out of Auburn soon after graduation and found a place to live via Craigslist.

Henderson’s full-time job is music: when she arrived, she started writing and networking by going to live shows and speaking with producers and record labels.

Henderson has a digital distribution deal with ONErpm, a deal she felt the deal was best for her, as technology today is enough to get her started.

Her first tour kicked off in October 2017 and took her all over the country. Henderson said they tent-camped a good bit along the way and she didn’t foresee any issues, because she is a “down for the ride” kind of girl.

The first night she tent camped was in Utah and she expected it to be decent weather.

“It was one degree outside,” Henderson said and laughed. “It was insane. We tent-camped because it was cheaper and we thought it would be fine. I almost bought a hotel every night after that because it was so cold.”

Seattle, Utah, Kansas City, Portland, Los Angeles, Texas and back up through Auburn.

Mama Mocha’s was the first place she ever played and Henderson said she is always excited to perform there.

“Break Your Crowns,” her debut, features 10 songs of delicate guitar picking and melodic, clean vocals. With personal songs like, “Dear Daddy” and “7 Years,” Henderson opens up to her audience in a transparent way.

“The album is really about being OK with who you are and being okay with sharing that with people around you,” Henderson said.

Ross Holmes, former fiddler for Mumford & Sons, told Henderson something she has made her 2018 mantra — to always write honest songs, not trendy songs.

“It sounds so trivial, but it really impacted my writing now, because you find yourself wanting to do what is working,” Henderson said. “That’s not what anyone really cares to listen too. They want to listen to your story. They want to listen to the grit, the good, the bad.”

One of Henderson’s professor told her, “You will get 500 ‘nos’ before one maybe, so you have to work hard to get the ‘nos’ out of the way.” She said that advice helped through the rough times.

Alongside her music, Henderson founded a non-profit less than a year ago. The Look Up Foundation helps children navigate through the stages of grief. She partnered with Vanderbilt Medical Center and has been working on two books for children there.