Biography: Singer/Songwriter Shelly Rastin
by Jeffrey Reed
There is no secret as to why Shelly Rastin continues to make her mark on the national music scene. However, there is a magic formula which continues to see this bonafide star win new fans from coast to coast. Timeless tunes, crossing over from rock to pop to country; an insatiable thirst for excelling in her craft; partnering with music superstars; displaying an unequaled work ethic – this is Shelly Rastin.
In 2001, Rastin initiated a songwriting and recording relationship with internationally-acclaimed music icon Randy Bachman (guitarist and founding member, The Guess Who & Bachman Turner Overdrive). The result of their collaboration? Music fans everywhere are overjoyed. And although the two songsmiths have arrived at a number of great tunes, it is a track written by Bachman's daughter, Lorelei, that has everyone wanting to know more about Strathroy, Ontario’s Rastin.
It’s a single entitled, One Way Ticket, that is turning heads Rastin’s way. One Way Ticket, a timeless tune twinning marvelous harmonizing with incredibly clever lyrics, is a co-production between Randy, who laid down the band track, and country music hit maker Jason Barry, who recorded Shelly's vocals and added a few more country touches to the roots/rock track. The follow up tracks to complete the album (Jason Barry production) are well underway and will be available across Canada later this year.
In her home market of southwestern Ontario, Rastin is beyond being well received by her fans. In fact, she is a local superstar – arguably the area’s biggest music star. In fact, Rastin recently grabbed the international spotlight when she shared the bill with country superstar Keith Urban.
Star Magazine reported, “Nicole Kidman is traveling with new hubby Keith Urban on his new North American concert tour, but she is going to great lengths to stay out of the public eye and out of the camera lenses.” The magazine continued, “Kidman was so demanding of her personal space that Shelley Rastin, the singer who opened the show for Urban at the 20,000 strong Bayfest outdoor concert in (Sarnia) that borders the U.S. at Port Huron, Mich., said she couldn't even get to her trailer to change her clothes before she went on stage. It was too close to the newlyweds black Prevost tour bus.
And this tongue-in-cheek news from Sympatico Lifestyle: “What the?! At Urban's first concert since getting hitched, poor little Canadian country singer Shelly Rastin couldn't get into her own trailer because Kidman had the perimeter "locked down" against having her photo taken (Gasp! People might find out what she looks like!).
A rare artist who appeals to fans of all genres – particularly in her crossover forté of rock/pop/country – Rastin has been on the receiving end of several awards: two-time Country Artist of the Year, London Music Awards; two-time Singer/Songwriter of the Year, Jack Richardson Music Awards – the list goes on.
Southwestern Ontario is Canada’s most heavily-populated music market, with London – Canada’s 12th largest city – acting as a music-crazy anchor. It is here where Rastin has established herself as the premier crossover artist, and it is here where Rastin remains the people’s favourite – one of the most demanded live performers in this part of Canada. Incredibly, the energetic Rastin entertains on average 42 weekends per year. Audiences have fallen in love with her, both as the lead vocalist of her own band, and as an incredibly talented solo artist whose stage presence can only be described as hypnotizing. Never one to rest on her laurels, Rastin spends most of her off-stage time furthering her technical and writing skills, and working in the studio.
To that end, Rastin has firmly established herself as a top-notch studio musician. She has recorded with such superstars as Juno Award Hall of Famer Mel Shaw in Nashville, and alternative rock production icon Dale Penner, who scheduled his work with Rastin in between his award-winning work with such legends as Matthew Good and Nickelback.
After working with Rastin, Shaw said, "She's got the right attitude to make it. She also has the ability, the personality and the looks."
In performance, Shelly has worked stages with many established artists of all stripes, including Keith Urban, for whom she recently opened at one of southwestern Ontario’s summer bashes of 2006, Sarnia Bayfest. Rastin has also shared the stage with such notables as Blake Shelton, Doc Walker, Andy Griggs, Lisa Brokop, Michelle Wright, McAuley, Kim Mitchell, Rawkin’ Ronnie Hawkins, Sass Jordan, Trooper, Bachman, Uncle Cracker, and a myriad of other artists – many of whom have raved about her extraordinary talents and ambitious live show.
At the 2006 Scott Tournament of Hearts Canadian women’s curling championships, Rastin was the talk of the town as she entertained a large London Convention Centre crowd at the HeartStop Lounge.
“Having a local female artist perform was such a great fit for the event, and London should be proud of its hometown talent. Your show was a definite highlight. Your strong stage presence keeps the audience with you for every wonderful moment. It’s an energy-packed show, and at the core is your rockin’ voice! On the business side of things, you are truly professional and a pleasure to work with. I hope our paths cross again. I’ll certainly be following you on the charts.” – Kerry Lackie, Vice Chair, HeartStop Lounge
Everything Shelly Rastin touches turns to gold. She has captured first place and many new fans at a number of showcases and TV appearances, ranging from local talent contests, to Ed McMahon's Next Big Star, Toronto's City TV's Breakfast Television, Rogers Cable and The A Channel. She has been a featured act at Canadian Music Week, and has appeared at a diverse variety of clubs, festivals and charities, including The Horshoe Tavern, Elmo Como and Healey's club in downtown Toronto.
When an artist has an opportunity to work with a legend like Bachman, that artist is naturally excited. In fact, Rastin has made a solid impression on Bachman, who states, "You are quite a successful role model for women in all areas. You have and maintain a great family, have a day job at London Life and have a career in music. I don't know how you manage it all but it's quite a template for other women."
It is little wonder, then, that this prolific songstress possesses an extraordinary work ethic, and that Shelly Rastin has become known as one of the hardest working performers in all of Canadian music.
"I simply love to perform live," says Rastin. "Being able to work up a heated sweat on stage and to give a rawkin’ performance for an eager audience is one of the best thrills ever! These are exciting times, and I'm going to continue to give my music and my supporters everything I've got."
Shelly's début single, One Way Ticket, has now hit Canadian Country radio and is achieving full rotation success Canada wide. "Hard work, long hours, wack of talent – guess it all pays off!" – Barry Smith, Program Director, BX93 Radio, London, Ontario
What's next for Rastin? The new album is in development under producer Jason Barry (Charlie Major, Aaron Lines, Jason Blain, Jason McCoy – just to name a few of the artists with whom he has collaborated) and will soon be available everywhere. Watch the Canadian Country radio charts to see just what's in store. Here’s a sneak peak.
Born in a Barn is a country/rock tune which showcases Rastin’s strong vocals, accented by some extraordinary guitar riffs. That’s All She Wrote is a catchy little ditty, a timeless pop/rock song with enormous crossover potential. And, 4 In The Morning reveals a taste of Shania Twain-type vocals but with Rastin’s own unique style – an upbeat country song that also has huge crossover potential.
Writing with her band’s leader and bass player, Darcy Corbett, is a thrill for Rastin. The two enjoy a chemistry seldom seen in the music world. It’s plain to see, Rastin is excelling as a songwriter, borrowing from experiences with Bachman, and enjoying writing partnerships with such talent as Jamie Warren and Doug Vardy.
So much talent. So many accolades in such a short time. Yet, the best is yet to come for Shelly Rastin. Keep your eyes and ears open. Rastin is gonna’ rawk’ your socks off!