When most people think of singer Shaun Canon, they may reference his top spot on season 7 of American Idol. Maybe they first think of his multi-octave voice, with a reach and pitch that almost doesn’t even sound real, which created the 2009 theme song for top video game “Shadow Complex”, as well as multiple musical achievements. After an inspiring conversation with the singer last Thursday, it became apparent to me that there’s much more than television show appearances and American Idol royalties to the artist. Setting aside some time to speak with me in the midst of a busy and multi-directional schedule, Canon opened up on a couple of his most prized projects, one of which is his current work with music programs in schools across the country. Aside from collaborating with other phenomenal multi-talented artists such as Lindsey Stirling, and upcoming plans to work with more musicians including The Killers, Canon’s main focus lays where it actually began with him – school music programs.
Shutter 16: Where did you get the idea for this fundraiser concert?
Shaun Canon: It started in Indianapolis. I went [to Indy] and they featured me as a performer at the stadium for DCI (Drum Corps International) championship finals, and they let me speak to the audience. I met a lot of people behind the scenes, met with the president [of DCI] and was working with him directly. We were trying to work together to figure out a way to feature schools that needed help. We did a full callout to the entire audience to see if they knew of any schools in their area that needed funding, and we wanted to visit as many as possible and see if there was anything we could do to help.
S16: What kind of feedback did you get with that – were there a lot of people coming back with places for you to go out and visit?
SC: Oh, yeah. There were a lot of schools that needed help. We tried to follow up with all of them, and we went to a lot of them. There were about 100 schools starting out, and we went from there. The way that we worked it out was that 100% of the tickets go to the actual [music] program – we wanted to make sure all of it went to the actual school’s organization. I personally make no money off of these shows, and that was my goal – that these were legitimate fundraising opportunities, and all the money that was generated through ticket sales went to the schools that needed our help.
S16: That’s incredible. Has this been across the whole country, or one particular area?
SC: I’ve been all across the country – New York, California, Florida. I think the only states we haven’t really hit are Alaska and Hawaii, so almost all states. Not all 50, but a good portion.
S16: How much longer are you wanting to do this for – is it indefinite for you, or is there a timeframe?
SC: Yeah, I think it’s pretty indefinite. As long as there’s a need for it. I want to keep reaching out and trying to raise money for these schools. I did six or seven of them last spring and they turned out really well, so we can raise a lot of money for schools with this. We’ve been all over the place, doing a few here in Utah. As long as there’s a need, as long as there are schools struggling with a music program, I want to continue doing what I can, such as buying their instruments, risers, funding for tours or trips, things like that. We’ve raised money for many different things, whatever they need.
S16: Before you got into this, when you were in school, did you do anything like marching band?
SC: Yeah, I was in marching band and choir and high school musicals. I would’ve been in more if there’d been more. I played clarinet and marched all over the field, and then I was in a couple of different choirs. I was heavily involved in music programs in my school.
S16: I think unless you’ve actually done [marching band], you don’t realize how much work goes into it and the relationships you form. [SC: Yeah, exactly.] So, how long have you been doing these school tours?
SC: It’s been about four years – started back in 2011.
S16: I know you’re also doing another tour visiting churches, is that right?
SC: Yeah, we’re trying a new approach trying to reach a newer audience. The idea is to try and reach out to people through these churches, bringing the community together with something inspirational and uplifting, not just for entertainment.
S16: Is it any certain denomination or atmosphere you’re seeking out?
SC: It’s non-denominational – we wanted to open it up. I think there’s a lot of religions that can benefit from this, not just Christian churches. Any church that’s interested in having us come and perform for their congregation, we’ll go.
S16: Is it basically you just going in and playing a show, having some fellowship, that sort of thing? Or are you speaking any?
SC: It’s more performance based. I don’t know if I’ll be speaking at these – I’ll say a few words here and there between songs, but it’s mostly a concert. Don’t quote me on that, though, because that might actually change! I may be one to say, you know what, let’s do twenty minutes of singing and twenty minutes of speaking. I encourage people to come up on stage, whether they want to sing, or beatbox, or whatever. One I did recently, I invited some people up for a little beatboxing competition and it was pretty awesome. I’ll usually have six to eight people coming up and doing their thing.
S16: I happened to notice the video featuring your song on a Hunger Games trailer – as a huge fan myself, I have to ask about that.
SC: So, it’s not official. [laughs] It was a fan made video. I hope maybe at some point it’ll be official! What happened was we wrote a song and sent it in to actually be in the movie, but as far as I know there’s still a chance it’ll end up in part two next year, because this year the main theme song is written by Lorde. So we just created a fan video for now, which isn’t up on YouTube anymore, but we posted it up on our Facebook. I wish it was official. I did just do some work for a Disney movie coming out next year, which is official. But that’s my main long-term goal career wise is to be doing songs for movies, like The Avengers, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, those are movies that are inspiring to me. And I’m writing songs pertaining towards these movies – as of right now, I’ve got two movies that loved my music and they’ll be theaters this fall. One’s a Christian film that’s coming out in October called “Wayward Protigal Son, and the other one I can’t actually name because it hasn’t officially made it there, but it’s a family film, comes out in theaters next February. So, I’m on the way to getting there. We’ve pitched my song to The Hunger Games and hoping it makes it, but if not, at least I tried. [S16: That’s all you can do!] Yeah, I mean, it definitely fits the love story between Peeta and Katniss.
S16: So I know you said this is what you’re wanting to do long-term, is write music for movies, and your most recent album, which hasn’t come out yet, is kind of geared towards that, right? – Theatric and inspired by movies?
SC: Yeah. It started with just a collection of singles, and then kind of became an album. “Songs for Superheros” is what we’re calling it, and so it’s basically that I wrote a song for The Hunger Games, James Bond, Star Wars, Avengers, a few others like that, that’s kind of the idea. I wanted to write songs that were written specifically for those movies. When the album comes out, we’re pitching it to entertainment lawyers and such in the hopes that we’ll land some, and we’ll see what happens!
Shaun’s school tour, We Are Music, is still currently in progress, as well as the upcoming release of his album, “Songs for Superheroes”, due out this fall. Check out his latest music video, “Live For Music”, featuring Lindsey Stirling and clips from DCI and various school-age marching bands.
For more information about Shaun’s work, upcoming album, and his church and school tours, visit http://www.shauncanon.com/.
To submit suggestions for schools for Shaun to visit during his We Are Music school tour, send an e-mail to Booking@shauncanon.com.
Visit Shaun’s Facebook page for up to date news, and to view current fan made videos.