July 30, 2009

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Around the world and back
Shaughnessy finds Permission to Be, everywhere
By Katie Beth Ryan music@hippopress.com

His musical career began in the auditorium at Manchester West High School and has taken him to California, Estonia, Sierra Leone and now back to his hometown, where Michael Vincent Shaughnessy is re-visiting his roots in inspirational music.

Shaughnessy returned to Manchester last year with his wife Karen and three children in tow. Since then, he’s put the finishing touches on Permission to Be, an inspirational CD that he began in California. Being back in a familiar environment has enabled him to focus on his music and lyrics, which tend to center on human relationships.

“There are so many opportunities to burn bridges with people and relationships, but the most powerful ability we have is to look over the faults of others so we can look from a love perspective and not a judgment perspective,” he said. The album “is actually quite funny in spots, and joyful, but then there’s a very serious side of this album that points out that we only have this moment to take advantage of what we have and use it to the best of our ability.”

After graduating from West in 1995, Shaughnessy set out for Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma and until last year was a music teacher in Santa Monica, Calif. Shaughnessy has traveled the world — he performed on streets in Mexico and the Eastern Bloc country of Estonia, and four years ago accompanied a medical mission to Sierra Leone.

“Having traveled and seen people in different countries — sometimes you forget that people are people everywhere and we all have a desire to be known but we also have a desire to know and to experience life and not just exist,” he said.

In California, Shaughnessy became good friends with Lee Curreri, who starred in the film version of the musical Fame, and R&B singer Gavin Christopher, both of whom were instrumental in the early stages of Permission to Be. The first songs produced for the album caught the attention of several record executives on the West Coast, but at the time, there were bigger priorities in Shaughnessy’s life than stardom.

“There’s a mentality that if you’re not signed with a record company, you haven’t really arrived,” he said. “I realized during that process that I could have easily given up all the important stuff in my life and gone for what really wouldn’t have fulfilled me anyway. For me it was a timing thing. It just wasn’t the right time.”

Since March, he has written and recorded more than 13 new songs for the album, due to be released online on Aug. 9 at www.michaelvincentshaughnessy.com.

“I believe in relationships,” he said. “That’s when the divine is revealed the most…. In our relationships with people, usually it’s the ones who are closest to us who reveal to us the most. In that is where of all these songs started coming from.”