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Still chasing a dream

Teenage singer/songwriter making a name for herself

UPCOMING SHOWS - July 10 at The Oasis, Grayslake, Ill. Sept. 5 at the Walworth County Fair, Elkhorn. Visit www.myspace.com/shannonbehm1 for more information about Behm.
June 23, 2010 | 08:58 AM
A lot can happen in a year.

Last summer, the biggest concert lined up for Pell Lake singer/songwriter Shannon Behm was a solo performance on the Pepsi Stage at the Walworth County Fair.

This summer, the 17-year-old is embarking on her own tour with a band.

She played a slot on the Bamboozle Road Tour, which also featured Third Eye Blind, All Time Low and Hello Goodbye, and opened for local act Chasing Amy. Behm also took first-place in talent contests at Badger High School, where she will start her senior year this fall, and in the junior section of the talent show at Harvard's Milk Days.

She's also sang the National Anthem at the speedway in Sycamore, Ill., and will be singing it again at Riverfest, South Elgin, Ill.

"I'm pretty close to where I've always wanted to be," Behm said. "Now, I'm just waiting to get signed to a big record label."

Already, she has had that moment every musician dreams of — hearing their own song on the radio.

Behm said she walked in her house one day and thought her mother, Jonine, left her compact disc playing on the family's stereo. Instead, it was a local radio station playing her song.

"I was kind of like, 'Is that really me?' I was confused for a second," she said.

It was 91.7 WSUM in Whitewater, a station where Shannon has conducted interviews and played her own songs live. Evidently, there's a reason why they used to say you haven't made it unless they play your song on the radio.

"They (91.7) have been playing my demo and I'm actually getting paid for it now," she said. "It's only like a few cents every time it's played, but supposedly, the DJ is playing it like crazy."

Today, iTunes and Myspace are just as vital to an artist making it big. Behm is on both — her song "Without You" is available to download on iTunes and she recently surpassed the 1,000 mark for friends on Myspace.

"I'm just trying to get there somehow," Behm said.

The road to stardom

Things are happening fast for the girl who exhibited musical talents at an early age. During an interview in August 2009, Shannon's mother, Jonine, said the youngest of five children once played "Here Comes the Bride" on a toy piano and claimed she wrote it.

Since then, in school, Shannon would participate in talent shows and take music classes.

But at the age of 15, she taught herself how to play guitar. A month later, she played her first gig at Beadology, Lake Geneva.

A musician's life isn't the normal 9-to-5 grind, even if you're in high school. Although Shannon said school was "kind of a struggle" last year, she plans on performing better academically her senior year and enrolling in an online college for a backup plan.

"Music is my full-time job," she said. "I actually don't have many friends, but I just worry about my music. I'm not really interested in being a teenager."

Shannon said most of her time is spent preparing for shows, playing them and writing songs. She has about 20 songs written, and eight of them are on a demo CD.

She and her band — Andy Spitson, guitar, and Garrett Bisbee, drums — recently began the Joy Ride Tour. Shannon said she hopes to add a bass player and a keyboardist in the future to her band and wants to record in a "real" recording studio.

But her biggest show to date was on Bamboozle. She played in the basement at The Rave, Milwaukee.

"The room was filled," Shannon said. "They were lining up in the hallways trying to hear me."

It's a long way for the girl who, last summer, was "a little nervous about having my own stage" at the Walworth County Fair.

But Shannon said that gig went well.

"I actually gathered quite a crowd," she said. "They were all clapping and getting involved. I'm playing there again this year."

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