By Isaiah Negron
Grammy-balloted singer and songwriter Shea Arender, a.k.a. Shea, began singing from the tender age of seven years old in New Orleans. His first on-stage performance was at twelve when he sang in a rock tribute show. “My first time performing, I sang some oldies from Ricky Nelson and Elvis,” he remembers. “I knew I was supposed to sing on stage after that.” Growing up in Louisiana, Shea was influenced by the legendary music and feel that The Big Easy is known for. “It was part of my culture, just being around the environment,” explains Shea. “To this day, outside of Christmas music, I’m a big jazz and Motown guy.” In addition to his holiday songs, Shea boats an eclectic repertoire of musical genres from jazz and R&B to funk and country music in his past concerts and performances.
In 2009, sparked by inspiration from a holiday trip on a cold Alabama night, he wrote his first single, “Christmas Love Affair.” His composing and songwriting continued, fueled by a desire to give the world new holiday songs. “I realized there was a need for original Christmas music,” Shea says. “We’ve all been singing the same songs for years. I wanted to take it into the new millennium, keeping the classic Christmas feel but making it modern.” Last year, Shea released his first holiday album from Lost Gold Records, “Every Day’s Christmas,” with the hit single “The Christmas I Met You.” The single shot to #1 on the Adult Contemporary Charts and landed at #61 on the “Merry Christmas Network Top 100 Christmas Songs of All Time.” The single also made the first Grammy Ballot for “Song of the Year” in the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. This milestone resulted in the media dubbing him “The Prince of Christmas.” When he’s not singing or writing lyrics, Shea turns to poetry and hiking to help him relax and clear his mind saying, “Sometimes you can even do them together!”
This November, Shea will be making his off-Broadway debut in “SHEA – Prince of Christmas,” a holiday music show that takes the audience on a worldwide journey showcasing the globally diverse celebrations of Christmas. He will be this year’s only solo artist and producer who is also headlining his own musical show on or Off-Broadway. “We’re going to do the classics, but we’re going to do Christmas music from around the world,” says Shea, adding, “I want to show other ways people celebrate the holiday.” Mixing musical styles like reggae, pop/rock and blues with traditional Christmas music, Shea plans on performing something that everyone can enjoy. He remarks, “I want all cultures and religions to feel welcome and enjoy the performance. It’s a life celebration.” SHEA – Prince of Christmas will debut in Midtown on 46th Street at St. Luke’s Theatre on November 13th. •