Here’s a quiz question: what links the following set of singers? Javier Colon, Jermaine Paul, Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery, Tessanne Chin, Josh Kaufman, Craig Wayne Boyd, Sawyer Fredericks, Jordan Smith, Alisan Porter, Sundance Head, Chris Blue, Chloe Kohanski, Brynn Cartlli, Chevel Shepherd, Marlyn Jarmon, Jake Hoot, Todd Tilghman and Carter Rubin?
They all won The Voice USA.
Chevel Shepherd is from New Mexico and is only 18. She won Season 15 of The Voice when she was sixteen, singing songs by The Band Perry, George Strait, The Chicks, The Judds, Little Big Town, Loretta Lynn, LeAnn Rimes and Tanya Tucker, as well as Space Cowboy by Kacey Musgraves. After being mentored by Kelly Clarkson, Chevel opened for Maroon 5 in 2019, which must have been a condition of winning it. Her song Broken Hearts charted on the strength of her winning performance. It passed me by completely.
The title track of her seven-track EP Everybody’s Got a Story was written by Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark. It includes some glorious minor chords and a rocking chug which underscore lyrics about blaming people for your predicaments. Snakes is a story of ‘growing up in the backwoods’ where they don’t just live on the ground.
Southern Boy chugs along happily though the lyric compares guys in the South to those in New York and LA. Chevel wants a ‘back road, take it slow kinda love’ and the chorus is delicious. I listened to it again immediately. Good Boy is a bit more banal, as Chevel coos to her mama that she has found someone to love her.
Just Like The Circus (‘you always leave town’) is another Musgraves-McAnally write, and it makes sense because her voice is the same tone as Kacey’s, and very similar to that of Hailey Whitters. The Letter is a piano-led slowie which opens with a family crying and the doctors trying and someone writing a note (‘Don’t give up right before the miracle’) which is practically a Christian pop song.
Mama Got The Chair is a ballad about Chevel’s mum ‘drinking alone’ which sounds an awful lot like the George Strait song, which makes me think it’s an answer song. Both Danielle Bradbery and Cassadee Pope have had modest success, and I hope Chevel Shepherd joins them.