Asthmatic Kitty is proud to announce the re-press of Shannon Stephens’ self-titled debut (2000). Produced by Stephens and her former Marzuki band-mates Sufjan Stevens and Matt Haseltine in 2000, this superb collection of Shannon’s own songs includes contributions by Marzuki cellist Jamie Kempkers, Kenny Hutson (Vigilantes of Love) on pedal steel guitar, Mews and Mews Too contributors Roman Bolks and Jason Brouwer, and folk mainstay Jason Harrod. With new artwork and two previously unreleased bonus tracks, this release will delight newcomers and faithful fans.
Shannon Stephens was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the daughter of a hymn-singing mother who played the piano in high heels and a hootenanny-hosting father with red pants and a sonorous Roy Orbison voice. Shannon began writing songs at age seven with a number entitled “Where is my pie?” She learned to play the acoustic guitar during the particularly boring summer of 1992. She moved to Michigan shortly thereafter, and met Sufjan Stevens at a concert. She became the voice of the band Marzuki, a Celtic-inspired folk-rock ensemble comprised of Shannon, Sufjan, Matthew Haseltine and Jamie Kempkers. Marzuki played a lot of shows in Michigan, and a few ill-fated shows in New York City. They released two albums in the five years that they were together, all out of print.
After Marzuki disbanded, Shannon began to play local venues on her own. She released her self-titled debut LP in 2000, the same year she moved to Seattle and shared the stage with the likes of Denison Witmer, Rose Thomas, Jason Harrod and Damien Jurado. But by the time the new album had come back from the manufacturer, she had realized that all this music stuff was a lot of work. The boxes went into her garage and collected dust for nine years while she got married, read copious amounts of books, had a daughter, and did lots of hippy stuff like growing potatoes, canning preserves, and making kombucha. Eventually she began to see that her love of music needed to have a place in her life again. In 2008, one of her songs (“I’ll Be Glad”) was covered by Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy) on his album Lie Down In The Light.
In 2009, Shannon released her second album, The Breadwinner
, which Rachel Carson at Exclaim!
described as “…a spectacularly beautiful and fiercely compelling sophomore album” and Sufjan Stevens calls “…a joyful, heartful collection of quiet, gorgeous songs about family, friends, work, love, and the beauty of the world at large.”
Shannon continues to play shows in the Seattle area and around the Pacific Northwest, staying close to home while her daughter is yet young, and writing songs for her next album.