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Congrats to Seattle-based singer/songwriter Shannon Stephens. She just snagged Best Female Vocalist accolades in the Seattle Weekly’s 2012 Best Of issue! We caught up with her before she leaves on tour this week.

AK: Hey Shannon, how come the Great Northwest has kept you under its wing for the past 13 years?
SS: What’s kept me in the area so long is my family, mostly. After I moved here, my sisters and mom followed, so I got really lucky. I get to live in an amazing place AND have family close by. And now I have a band that’s committed to me and is awesome, and I have some dear friends. Also, I love that the music scene is so vibrant. I can collaborate with a lot of wonderful people right here at home.

AK: Can you list a few favorite collaborators from the local scene?
SS: I loved singing with Galen Disston (of Pickwick) on my new album. I loved doing a duet with Gregory Paul for the Seven Swans Reimagined compilation. I love just getting together with my pal Lindsay Fuller and passing the guitar back and forth. It’s so good to play music with friends. Of course, I can’t say enough about my band. Those guys blow my head off. They are such good musicians, I am more and more apt to put my guitar down and let them carry the arrangements. We have pancakes every Saturday and then play music together.

AK: How does living in the city affect your songwriting/music?
SS: Living in the city has been really difficult in some ways, like cost of living–I’m always fighting to get the bills paid. And that affects my songwriting in a painful way, because I don’t have a lot of time to write songs. But it’s also been exciting to see what other songwriters and musicians are doing up-close. I’ve been inspired and influenced by the music going on around me. There’s a lot of creativity and joy.

This is a place with tons of natural beauty. It tends to quiet me when I pay attention to it. And if there’s any quiet in the music, it comes from that same place. My latest record is a little noisier than my previous. I think I’m giving in to the urban climate and the pace of life, and letting some of that meditative quiet go. I need to get to the mountains.

Flash round. Tell us your favorite Seattle…

Neighborhood: My favorite neighborhood is Wedgwood–it’s quiet and humble. I’ve mostly lived there since I moved to Seattle.

Restaurant: I like to eat at Third Place Pub with my daughter. We get the fries and the hummus plate and pick out a game (always with missing pieces) to play at our table.

Farmers market: I like the West Seattle farmers market, because there’s good coffee and thrift stores and the beach right close by. You can make a day trip out of it.

Music venue: My fave venue is the Triple Door. You can order a cocktail and awesome food at your table while watching the music! I love that. I don’t know how the performers feel about all those noisy forks, but I’ll find out on August 28 when I play there for the first time!

Stephens’ latest release Pull it Together is available here