Shelly Fairchild isn’t new to the industry – but she’s far from old news.
A staple in the Nashville music community, Fairchild hit the scene to much acclaim with her Columbia Records debut album Ride. The project introduced the young artist’s soulful, gospel-tinged brand of alternative country and spawned a Top 40 hit with “You Don’t Lie Here Anymore.” She toured with some of the biggest names in the format, including Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw, and began to dig her roots in the industry. She again found success in her second release, Ruby’s Money, which came steeped in a thick groove with elements of funk – but it was Buffalo, her crowd-funded 2017 release, that marks a milestone in her life and career.
“I’m sincerely grateful for both the good and bad things that have happened in my life. Everyone that I’ve met and worked with over the 20 years that I’ve lived in Nashville has made me who I am, and I will always carry that in my soul,” says Fairchild.
The Jackson, Miss. native started the project in May 2014, launching a PledgeMusic campaign in the hopes that she would find support of her endeavor – and after reaching her goal in just two days, she realized she had. Fairchild's 3rd full length studio record was fully funded and buoyed by the faith of her friends, family and fans.
The next two years saw Fairchild working with some of her most inspirational industry co-writers. “House on Fire,” an aching ballad reflecting on the weight of one’s past, was the first song that she remembers finishing and feeling confident that it deserved a spot on her record. Co-written by Fairchild along with Lisa Carver and Travis Meadows, the track features subtle but classic country instrumentation and the soft harmonies of one of her favorite bands, the Fairground Saints.
From there the singer/songwriter continued to pen songs that she felt carried an important message to either herself or the world around her. Guided by Jeremy Lister and Carey Ott, Fairchild recorded eight of her co-written tracks for the record that would become known to her fans as 'Buffalo'. Though she tackled some serious topics in her writing, Fairchild felt extremely uplifted by her own work and that of others.
“I love singers and songwriters,” she smiles. I love to have camaraderie and deep friendships with great singers and musicians. I feel like our community in Nashville is so rich and some of my favorite voices are my friends. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great artists on Buffalo like Wendy Moten, Lucie Silvas, K.S. Rhoads, Fairground Saints, and of course Carey & Jeremy. My heart felt like it was going to explode by the end of the recording process."
Not only does Buffalo emphasize its diversity by featuring guest vocalists, but it also highlights a wide array of musical styles and influences.
“There are a lot of different elements to the music that I make,” says Fairchild. “How do you describe some of the best bands that you know? They ended up on pop radio or on country radio, but are they really that kind of act? I have so many influences and I love having them show up in my songs. It feels like that kind of music lasts longer, because it feels real.”
As for the name of her last full length album to date, Fairchild says, "In many Native American cultures, the buffalo is a symbol of gratitude and abundance. I am from Choctaw ancestry and I completely connect with the idea that though buffalo carry a lot on their shoulders, their horns are always pointing up to the sky. There’s always this hope that the weight will be lifted."
A longtime hidden gem in the trove of Nashville musicians, Fairchild continues to keep her head and her heart pointing up to the sky. Between singing background vocals for the likes of Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Martina McBride, Crystal Gayle (to name a few), appearing as a regular on The Grand Ole Opry, writing songs for film and television, touring across the country and continuously working on future projects, it is clear she is just getting started.
“At times I’ve gotten down about my own path, but when I really take a good look at it – it’s not just full of detours and dead ends,” she said. “It’s a wide path, and it’s full of so many spontaneous and amazing things.”