A Songwriter's Secret Life

Everything happens for a reason.

Imagine the view from up there.

The other day, I was driving over a bridge in Ottawa… and I saw a bird perched up on top. I thought,

“Wow, imagine the view from up there.

If I was a bird, oh the places I would go.”

Birds can fly because they’re not afraid of falling.

Be a bird.

Oh the places you’ll go.





Things that get me pretty psyched.

– Waiting for Big In A Small Town to air. This gets me excited. And anxious. And nervous. And excited. 🙂

– Having well known people follow me on twitter… I have under 40 followers… and when someone who works in the music industry (LIKE FREAKING BIG MACHINE RECORDS) starts following you, you get excited. But don’t tell them I said that. I’m afraid they won’t think I’m cool and stop following me. (Side note: that’s Taylor Swift’s record company. Ya.)

– Writing new songs that I think are actually awesome. I get this tingly feeling in my stomach and my arms when I’ve written something I love. It’s weird.

– Hanging out with Taylor Swift (…on a live chat on youtube) and…


– FINDING OUT her new album is called RED and comes out OCTOBER 22ND and…

– HEARING her new single called “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”… which is PHENOMENAL. 

I’m using caps because I actually would be screaming it–that is, if I wasn’t alone in my living room with my two dogs who would be suddenly very frightened of me.

Oh oh oh!!

– AND, that the song she co-wrote with Ed Sheeran WILL BE ON THE ALBUM.

Okay I’m done screaming now.



PS: I super promise to have a song ready for you to hear by the time the show airs. :3


It’s never been about “being better” than anyone for me. It’s always been about challenging myself. My biggest opportunity has been to differentiate challenging myself and being overly self-critical.

I’m working on it. 🙂

I over-analyse, so not knowing for sure about what’s to come is something I’ve always struggled with because I come up with multiple scenarios and outcomes as time progresses.

To put it simply, I’m a dreamer.


I’m inspired by Taylor Swift. Deal with it.

Inspiration drives creativity…

My biggest inspiration is Taylor Swift.

By now, I know that’s starting to sound almost cliche, but it’s because she’s inspired so many people–and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But it’s strange how so many people think there is something wrong with that. Why is it so wrong to idolize someone for being kind, thoughtful, driven, successful, funny, focused, grounded… because they’re famous? I think it stems from a few things:

1. Because of their personal preference: They don’t like her, why should you?

2. Her voice is no match to the likes of Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood or Christina Aguilera.

3. She claims to be a country singer, but her songs aren’t “country”.

…among other things I’ve heard.

The first point (I think) can be labeled as “Justinbieberism” (ya, just made that up… it’s definitely not a thing). It’s crazy how much people hate him. And they use the term so loosely. “Hate”. Ugh. You can’t hate someone without good reason–and finding him annoying and cocky is not a good reason (Side note: I love Justin Bieber… GO CANADA!). But when someone says they love him or idolize him, the haters hate them too! I don’t get it.

Let’s say you like puzzles. Wouldn’t it be weird if someone who didn’t like puzzles came up to you and said they hated you because you liked puzzles? I’m pretty sure conversation would go, “Oh. I don’t like puzzles,” and end there. Same should go for Taylor. “Oh. I don’t like Taylor Swift.” The end. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and those who disagree shouldn’t fight them on it.

The second point is a huge topic of discussion when it comes to Taylor; her voice. She has never claimed to have a voice like the aforementioned singers. She has never claimed she’s never gone flat on a note or had consistently perfect performances. She is not perfect and she’d be the first to tell you that, (like in her song ‘Mean’: You have pointed out my flaws again, as if I don’t already see them) …but don’t expect her to come out and announce to the world that she had a tough performance! There’s the argument that “Well, she’s a singer. Singing is her job, shouldn’t she be perfect?” Singing is one of the many facets of Taylor’s job–she is an artist, and she’s damn good at it. Her voice is sweet, powerful and easily identifiable. Taylor works hard and challenges herself day in, day out (another reason why I find her so inspiring). Besides, I don’t think anyone can say they’re perfect at their jobs–and if you can, I think you lack accountability and self-awareness. Annnnddddd *manager hat comes off*.

Lastly, there’s the whole “She’s not country enough” thing.

If you can think of ten country artists, I bet you one of them would be Shania Twain. When Shania was sick of singing other peoples’ songs, she went off and wrote her own… with rock music producer Mutt Lange. When they presented their songs to her label, they were worried it was too different and not country enough. Ultimately, if it didn’t come out of Nashville, you were taking a big risk. And with that, Shania Twain became one of the most successful country music artists of all time. Genres evolve over time, and it’s people like Shania and Taylor who aren’t afraid to take risks that make these things happen. So next time you think Taylor Swift isn’t “country enough”, think of Shania Twain and what she did to change the face of country.

So. To sum up. I like Taylor Swift. She inspires me. She’s awesome. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

And no matter what happens, I’ll always be proud to say it.


I’ll always believe in myself.

I haven’t found out if I’ve made it into the top 6 or not yet, and I probably won’t for a while (I couldn’t tell you anyhow! Hehe). Honestly, I don’t think I’ll make it through, but that’s not to say I don’t think I did a great job. Considering I’ve never done this before, and have been hiding this away for years, I think I did fantastic. For someone with my level of experience, I could not be any more pleased with how everything turned out–and the fact that I was given this opportunity in the first place!

The other talent was phenomenal. Everyone had something different to bring to the table, which is going to make our episode so great! I seriously don’t know how they’re going to choose out of the four. I couldn’t say anyone was better than anyone because they were all amazing. Seriously.

And my husband and I watch shows like American Idol (mostly the auditions, haha), Canada/America’s Got Talent… etc. We can ALWAYS call it. We always know who doesn’t have a chance in the world and who is FOR SHIZ going through to the next round.

…but we’re stumped on this one!

Maybe it’s because we’ve built a more personal connection with each contestant… but as a manager, I’ve taught myself to be objective–I have to, whether I like it or not. Nonetheless, I’m still unsure.

I’ve always been the type of person to reach for gold in everything I do, so realizing I’m probably not going through somewhat disappointed my inner dreamer. One of my dreams was to become a manager. I was 18 at the time and barely had supervisory experience, let alone management, but I persevered and by the time I was 20, I was running my own business. I’m even training others to do my job, because I love what I do and it shows in my work. And I’m proud of that. I’ll never brag about it. When people ask, I’ll be honest and allow them to react the way they want to…

…like when someone asks to speak to the manager, and little ol’ me walks over. They always ask, “Are you the manager?” Hah. Their reaction is always priceless when I say I am.

So when I’m presented with a challenge, I always push myself to the limit–because I believe in myself. And yes, sometimes my inner realist is like “What the heck are you thinking?”, but when I know I can do something, I do it, whether or not I have doubts. 

My husband is the last person who wants to see my inner dreamer crushed. He always tells me “You always set yourself up for disappointment.” He’s right. I do. But my inner realist is strong enough to get me through it.

In the end, I’ll always make sure I’m happy… and I am right now. Really happy 🙂 That’s all that matters. Everything happens for a reason, and if it was meant to be, it was meant to be.

Because I believe in fate, do you? 🙂


My big secret… revealed!

Some of you may know that over the course of 20 days, I counted down to the “beginning”. The beginning could be many things… in this case, my beginning was a new chapter in my life: music. Suddenly, music wasn’t just rocking out to Super Bass as I baked, writing songs alone wrapped up in a blanket on my couch or playing mediocre guitar on my bathroom floor. For a little while, music was my purpose.

A couple months ago, I told you that I stumbled upon a contest called Big In A Small Town by CMT. It was as if something was telling me to check the CMT website (which I never do). I was simply curious about new country artists–and there it was: a big announcement for this contest. I eventually mustered up enough confidence to whip up a video of one of my songs and sent it off. My first attempt to apply failed even because the video file was too big. In my mind, that was a sign that it just wasn’t meant to be… but I was magically given the opportunity to reapply.

Out of the most dense population in the country, I made it on. I GOT ON THE SHOW. I’m one of the top 5 finalists in the Ontario region.

I honest to goodness thought I didn’t have a shot in the world. But here I was. On a CMT show.



:O:O:O:O:O:OO:OO:O:O:O:O!!!! RIGHT?! Yes. That’s me and Brooke Pashley. RIGHT?!?!?

Oddly enough, I wasn’t freaking out. Toats relaxed. I surprised myself with my ease around this entire thing. It felt so natural somehow. I wasn’t afraid to be myself. I thought, “Well, this is me, take it or leave it.” Ya, I was able to think that before performing for what will be on national television. Somehow.



Deep down, I was nervous though, and I knew it would affect my voice. So I decided not to belt it out and ended up singing a little too quietly. But man WAS IT FUN! 🙂



The mentors Casey Clarke and Crystal Shawanada were AMAZING. So smart and in tune with the genre. I was quite starstuck by them. They were so great. 

I loved their feedback and agreed with them 100%. I show confidence and comfort in myself, but didn’t show that power in my singing. They said they loved the song, found it catchy and could relate (SO FLATTERED!), but that I had to work on pushing the singing to the next level.

They were so sweet and constructive! I was honored to perform for them and know that no matter what happens, I learned something and have great feedback to take back and consider 🙂

All in all… it was everything I’d hoped it would be times a thousand. I am a better person for it, and appreciated every moment. The other contestants were FREAKING FANTASTIC!!! I have some really tough competition, everyone was unique and talented and I know making a decision will be hella hard for Big In A Small Town. Glad it’s not me who has to pick!!!

I’ll keep you posted on the results of this round, and even if I don’t make it through, I know this has opened many doors for me already 🙂

The show airs August 30th at 10 PM EST on CMT Canada. Hope you’re watching! 🙂

PS: My real name is Shauna Denis. 🙂 No need to hide anymore!

Follow me on Twitter if you’d like! @Shauna_Denis :)))


P.S.: I know there are many smiley faces in this post. I just couldn’t help it! 🙂 SEE?!

Day 1


Day 2


Day 3


Day 4