I’ve been preaching about the rising of the music scene in Vermilion County for over a year now. I’ve met some pretty incredible musicians, poets, artists….my people. But one of the other fun things about being a part of this scene is running into old friends.
I met Shelly Nale in 2006 when we did a benefit for the Fischer Theatre called The Girly Show. The show was literally a bunch of women doing a Broadway review. It was a very rewarding show because not only did it raise money for the old theatre, but we actually got to perform on the historical stage – which is something that is hard to come by anymore. Nowadays, Shelly is singing backup with the best of the best of the Danville/Champaign music scene and is carrying on (and passing on) a family legacy that runs deep.
Shelly was born into a musical family in the Danville area. With parents and several other members of the family constantly coming together to make music, “it was inevitable” that Shelly do the same.
Shelly says it all began when her mom, dad, and aunt were rehearsing for a gig and her aunt could not find the harmony part. Shelly started singing the part from the kitchen and her dad says, “That’s it! You’ve got it!” Her aunt insisted it was not her who “got it,” and her mom realized “that was Shelly!” Shortly after, her aunt developed laryngitis so Shelly filled in…the rest is history. From there, you could always find Shelly doing back-up vocals for her dad.
When her dad slowed down and dropped out of the music scene in Shelly’s early 40s, she “lost her outlet.” So she decided to see what she could find through a website that promoted musicians in specific cities. Through that, she found Todd McClure (who is now the guitar player for Katapult) and Suspicious Activity was formed along with Cole Hieke and Rick Vera.
Shelly was “thrust into the world of lead vocals” which she had never really done before. When the band started to play more gigs, she decided to go to her kids to get their blessing to play on the weekends. “I remember talking to Matt when he was about eleven years old. His response was, ‘When you’re rich and famous, are we gonna sell this house?'” Needless to say, she had Matt’s blessing.
Suspicious Activity dissolved after about four and half years, and from there Shelly decided to focus more on giving back. After attending her son, Matt’s, final show from the First Gig Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Kids his first year, she knew she wanted to be involved. She went to Peter Blackmon and told him to sign her up – she wanted in.
She has now been a vocal coach for the camp for the last four years. Through the camp, her son (Matt Nale), along with Reece Niccum and Ian Clemmons have been very successful with their band, The Dystopians. Not only is Shelly proud of passing down the music to her son, but she is also enjoying mentoring other kids for the “next generation of music.”
On top of First Gig, Shelly stays busy singing backup for several different bands. She has been seen with 90s Daughter, El Guapo, Katapult, Vinal Generation, The Dalton Halls Band, and the James Jones Trio. She has also performed at Rod Sickler’s Red Hot Winter and has hosted the I & I Jams the first Sunday of every month for the last four years. That is where she met Gary and Jill Jones and House of Cards was formed. You can see House of Cards this summer on July 7th at Summer Sounds or August 4th at Fatman’s Warehouse. For booking information, you can email Shelly at email@example.com or call her at (217) 504-2726. One of her greatest memories with HOC is when her son’s band, The Dystopians, played just before them at Culture Shock last summer.
You can usually catch Shelly supporting her kids or other local musicians any time they are playing in the area. Shelly loves Danville’s “unique scene where no matter the generation, we are all family with no competition, no bad feels – just love for music.”
I have so much love and respect for someone who supports, thrives in, and continues to give to our local music scene. Thank you, Shelly!
Peace & Love,
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