Crystal Shawanda - Cut By Cut

Read some of the interesting things RCA newcomer Crystal Shawanda had to say about the tracks of her new album "Dawn of A New Day."

Read some of the interesting things RCA newcomer Crystal Shawanda had to say about the tracks of her new album "Dawn of A New Day." Then click on the album logo at the bottom of the cut-by-cut to enter into a contest to win not only the album but a cool poster as well.

(Franne Golde/Marv Green/Kasey Livingston/Andrew Williams)

I didn’t write this song, but I could have written it. Every single line, I’ve lived. What’s really great about this song is that it’s not just an evolution of a singer. Everybody can interpret it to their own life. We all go through phases, and we all take a few wrong turns. It was so important for me to record this because somebody might think they’re just stuck in a certain phase in their life, and maybe they don’t realize that they can change it. It’s just a matter of doing it.

My Roots Are Showing
(Robin Lee Bruce/Christi Dannemiller/Whitney Duncan)

This is a fun, sassy song. But if you listen to the lyrics, it really is saying something important. It’s about being proud of where you come from and standing your ground with who you are, while never changing who you are just because you want to impress somebody. That is the philosophy of my life. And it’s nice when you can say something meaningful and make it fun.

Tender Side
(Crystal Shawanda/Mark Selby/Tia Sillers)

I’m so happy that this song made it on the album. I co-wrote it with Tia Sillers and Mark Selby, and they came in and watched my show at Tootsie’s a few times. Then we wrote together, and Tia said, “You know, when I look at you, I just think that ‘I’m a rock that nobody can roll.’” I was like, “That is so me!” I love this song because it’s saying that I’m strong enough to know when I need to be vulnerable. Every word is so true.

Baby You’re Back
(John Rich/Sharon Vaughn/Gretchen Wilson)

When I heard the song, instantly I couldn’t wait to get on stage and play it. I love being on stage. I love playing with my band. It’s just such a thrill. Performing just takes me somewhere higher. It’s a beautiful feeling, and I’m not even aware of how I am on stage. Sometimes I just go where it takes me. It’s a fun ride.

Dawn of a New Day
(Crystal Shawanda/Jamie Paulin/Jeremy Stover/Dewayne Strobel)

I co-wrote this song with some friends and my husband. My last name is Shawanda, which in Ojibwe means “dawn of a new day,” and I’ve always wanted to write a song about that. The song is not just about moving to Nashville and becoming a country music singer. It’s about believing in yourself. Being stubborn about what you want and just going after it. For me, this song is like paying homage to my family. It’s the family name, and my family has inspired me. In the song, the line “got to keep on rolling” – that’s my dad. He’s a truck driver, and he’s always rolling, and my whole family is like that. When bad things happen or things knock them down, they just get back up and try it again.

You Can Let Go
(Cory Batten/Kent Blazy/Rory Lee Feek)

It never gets any easier to sing this song. Every time I sing it, it takes me to a million different places. For me, I think the biggest way I connect to it is that I moved away from home when I was thirteen years old. At the time, I was excited to leave, and it never occurred to me to stop and think, once high school is done, you’re grown up. I kind of forced my parents to let go of me a lot sooner than they were ready to – really a lot sooner than I was ready to. This song also reminds me of when I was nine years old and my grandmother was in the hospital in a coma. I remember my mom leaning over her, crying, and saying, “I’ll take care of everybody. It will be okay.” She didn’t pass in that moment, but I remember thinking how hard that must have been to say that. That child in all of us, we want to say, “Don’t leave!”

I Need a Man
(Brett James/Hillary Lindsey/Aimee Mayo)

When I first heard it, I was afraid that it would come across too vulnerable because I am definitely a strong person. But the lyrics in the song are so powerful that I had to record it. When I sang the song in the studio, it was really coming from the place of “I love you, so quit screwing up” or “I love you, and I want this to work!” I think people can relate to that. We all want to stick it out even when it’s hard. This song shows my more vulnerable side. I’m comfortable with that. I’m realizing as I get older that it’s not such a bad thing.

What Do I Have to Do
(Trey Bruce/Leah Crutchfield)

I didn’t write this song, but I wish I did. It’s everything I love about country music. This was one of the first songs [my producer] Scott Hendricks brought to me and was essentially the song that got me my record deal. It’s an honest song. What do I have to do to get you to pay attention to me? I love it because it reminds me of Loretta Lynn and how honest she was in her music. I grew up watching my mom sing to Loretta Lynn records at the top of her lungs, and even as a young child, I still had a sense that she was finding comfort in those songs. I could tell that my mom felt like somebody finally understood her because Loretta Lynn had the courage to say what no proud woman wants to say. She had the courage to just say it. Not in a mean way, but just in an honest way.

Your Cheatin’ Heart
(Hank Williams)

I love singing my own songs, but I’m still a huge fan of other people’s songs. I grew up loving Hank Williams and “Cheatin’ Heart,” and since I was a teenager, I’ve been doing my own version – which I feel is the perfect way to pay respect to those who inspire you. Hank was a big part of why I started writing songs. He is a part of how passionate I am about music. It’s only fitting that this is on my album.

(Ed Hill/Luke Laird/Hillary Lindsey)

We all have different sides to us. When I first heard this song, I was going through a rough time. This song empowered me, and it made me want to fight harder. It made me not want to give up and be that much better. Just try – that’s how I live my life. Life should be about trying.

You Can’t Take It Back
(Crystal Shawanda/Brad Warren/Brett Warren)

This song is about second chances and is a huge part of why I ended up back in Nashville. I befriended a girl, back home on the reserve, who had gotten pregnant at a young age. She needed a babysitter, and I took the job. The baby was two weeks old, and I never held a baby that small. The job was supposed to be for one week – and it turned into one year – but I fell in love with that baby, and she’s actually my godchild now. This baby renewed my life. How could I tell this baby someday when she’s grown up to follow her dreams when I was hiding back home on the reserve trying to run away from my dreams because I was afraid of failing? I saw this young mother going to school and raising her baby, and I kept thinking, “If she can be that strong, then I can be strong enough to go after what I love.”

All these songs on the album, it’s not just from a woman’s perspective. It’s really from every side. Everybody can relate to it. Everybody can connect to it. There’s no gender bashing on this album. We all make mistakes, and at the end of the day, it’s “I love you and you love me. So let’s stick it out.” – Crystal Shawanda