International singer and song writer Amanda Vernon says it's "complex" to be on the road for a year-long tour with her husband and two toddlers—"but not much more complex than just having toddlers." Since July, the foursome has made stops across the continental United States. But they plan to stick closer to home this fall, especially as Amanda is one of the featured artists at Grand Rapids' ArtPrize Musician Showcase, September 20.
Amanda, who grew up in Grand Rapids, refers to her music as soulful pop; the majority of her audience is of the Roman Catholic faith community. Coupling a diverse tour schedule and major events like ArtPrize are among the ways she's branching out and hoping to affect more listeners with her song and message.
"When I was fourteen, I really felt on my heart that I wanted to share my music and my faith as well. I'm just so grateful that I can do both very seamlessly, and at the same time have a peaceful and happy family life, and still be able to travel the country," Amanda said.
In addition to producing five albums in the past ten years, Amanda knows the hard work that goes into maintaining a functioning household (or tour bus). Click here to listen to her ArtPrize entry, "Cleaning and Scrubbing," her song about household tasks, and, likewise, the value of dedicating time to the things that really matter, such as family.
Now in her early twenties, Amanda works to find a balance in her work and family life with the help of her husband and business manager, David Shaheen. While he manages administrative duties and she manages her voice, the pair teams up to instill positive and faith-filled values in their children, even while on the road. For Amanda, it all comes back to leading by example.
"The values that have rooted me as a person, wife, mom, artist, are rooted in prayer … I think those moments of quiet reflection impact our family and our children, especially when I set that example myself," Amanda said. "Even though we're busy on the road, on the East Coast one week and back to Michigan the next, I take moments each day to reflect, and it helps me to be a more peaceful mom. I think our kids will naturally come to see the value in taking that time for themselves as well."
In those times of quiet reflection, Amanda is able to write her story in music form. But the vulnerability of letting others into her world was not always an easy thing for Amanda to share. "Sometimes I fear if I should share something if I don't have it figured out yet. I fear people will not accept me," she said. "But I've been learning through the years to share what I'm going through, and in that honesty and in sharing, I come to accept myself and I can connect with others."
If you would like to connect with Amanda, click here for a full schedule of her tour, including dates and times she will perform at ArtPrize. Vote for Amanda using ArtPrize voting code 55441. Sign up for Amanda's e-mail list to receive a free song and updates about her performances and new recording projects!
Written by: Erika Rose is West Michigan Woman magazine's staff writer. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism. Erika was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it.