Express & Star

Going for gold in the music business: what it's like to be a singer songwriter

Shaun Tobar loves writing songs that will resonate with listeners and audiences and now album has been honoured International Singer Songwriter (ISSA) awards.

Duane Poole, Andy Clark, Shaun Tobar and Jason Dudley

The musician won a gold award in the Best International Male Album Of The Year category for his acoustic record One for the Road at the event in Atlanta, USA.

Shaun, from Bilston, says he was "totally shocked" to receive the accolade, adding: "It goes to show that we in the Black Country can compete in the music world with the best of them!”

His passion for music began when he played in brass marching bands from the age of 12.

Shaun with his award

"I later progressed onto the piano and guitar after a serious car crash and near death experience left me unable to work for a long time. Music was my salvation and motivation during my recovery.

"My early music career saw me fronting a number of bands, but it wasn’t until I became Shaun Tobar working as a singer songwriter that I started to find my focus as an artist.

"I signed for Surgery Records where I put out a number of songs receiving international recognition. I have been a 13 times nominee at the Fair Play Music Awards (Holland), two-time nominee at the Josiee Music Awards (USA) and best male nominee on Radio WigWam Awards (UK)," he tells Weekend.

"I have performed all over the country in my previous bands playing at venues in Stoke on Trent, Leicestershire and Liverpool.

"Performing at the Kerrang clothes show at the NEC Birmingham was a high point as was playing a live session for BBC Radio.

"I have performed excessively across the Midlands especially in Birmingham and have always enjoyed performing locally at Wolverhampton’s Civic hall.

"I recently returned to playing the Robin 2 in Bilston which always feels like a homecoming as it is in my hometown as well as being a fantastic live venue."

He describes his current sound as "a blend of road house blues, alternative country and classic rock".

"I typically create music that can be stripped right back and played on an acoustic guitar. The song is the most important thing and the music gives it the feel," explains Shaun, who plays with a band.

"The songs are stories based on experiences, drawing together emotions, meaning and understanding.

"I therefore invest a lot in the songwriting and production process spending hours in the studio to get the best out of the songs.

"My dad and his brothers played in a band in the early 1960’s and so music was a big part of my childhood.

"I grew up listening to early Motown, 60’s pop, 70’s rock and a whole host of bands in my teen years. This has inevitably influenced my songwriting and the sound I go for.

"I do however, love working with the band as it brings together other experiences and ideas as part of the collaborative creative process."

He began co-writing his award-winning album One For The Road with his wife Tonia in 2021.

"One For The Road is a really laid back album of acoustic songs. The lyrics and melodies are very personal and mean a lot to me.

"The songs also work well when I play them live with the full band, which just goes to show that a good song can work in many ways.

Shaun and his band performing live

"The thing I like about a great acoustic song is that the sound has a timeless quality and I hope that those listening to One For The Road can enjoy it for years to come," says Shaun.

"The things I enjoy most about songwriting and performing are being in the moment, creating something and being able to express it in a way that connects with others.

"I love the whole process of writing, recording, producing a song and then performing it live. As a band, we love winning audiences over and the buzz of creating music that has meaning to people, and that they can enjoy."

His band was formed 18 months ago and is very much a family affair with brother Duane Poole on drums, cousin Jason Dudley on Bass and his childhood friend Andy Clarke on guitar.

"Duane and I played together in Brit Pop outfit the Daniels in the late 90’s, where we performed live on Sky TV’s The Red Room.

"Former Pergau Dam bassist Jason, has worked with some of the UK’s top producers, performing at many prestigious venues up and down the country.

"Andy on guitar, was schooled by an icon and legendary jazz guitarist of the 1960s.

"It’s great to be able to write and perform new material with the band as well as working my back catalogue into the live set," Shaun tells Weekend.

Along with the band, he is gearing up for a number of local gigs including at Codsall Beer Festival on October 1.

They are also supporting Tony Wright of Terrorvision on November 8 at the Giffard Arms and ay the rescheduled SoundFest at the Newhampton Arts Centre in March 2023 where they will be raising funds for local charity Base 25.

Shaun and the band are also working on new music and planning more live shows for next week.

"I recently moved away from Surgery Records and in August, released my first single with the band titled Keep Your Eyes On The Money’, which has made a number of international radio playlists and we are hoping to follow this up with a new single Feelings in late summer.

"We also have an EP in production that will be released towards the end of the year. We are planning live dates now for next year and our ambition is to support more established artists and play festivals as we build a fan base in the UK. Our dream would be to have one of our songs trend well enough to chart, an invite to play on Jools Holland or the opportunity of a BBC Music Introducing - you can but dream!

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