A typical 15-year-old plays video games, goes to high school and navigates through life while trying to find answers to what they want to do when they’re older. Brentwood resident Shellye Cheyenne’s life is a little less than typical, even if those things also relate to her.
Cheyenne is a bubbly Texas-born musician who has performed at local venues and events since she was 14.
Music struck a chord with the teenager as it was a healthy outlet to express herself.
“It was a time for me to use my emotions in a productive way,” said Cheyenne. “I was in an emotional part of my life. [During 8th grade] I was just sad all the time.”
She got her start in performing in “smoky bars in Texas during open mic night” and now finds herself performing at local Brentwood's Co. Co. County Wine Company and small public events like the Makers Market held downtown.
“Shellye has an energy about her that is infectious. She has a beautiful soul which shines through her music. The second I heard her voice, I knew immediately that she had to be a part of the market,” said event coordinator Katie Rogina. “Everyone in attendance was in awe of Shellye. She knew exactly what song to sing to keep the crowd entertained -- She is a true artist who is a master of her craft.”
It’s a craft that she taught herself. Cheyenne recalled being told by her sister that she would love the Christmas gift their parents had purchased for her in 2018 and how she managed to sneak a peek into the trunk of the gift-filled car to see a ukulele.
“I pretended I didn’t see anything and went to my room and started looking up ‘how easy is it to learn ukulele?’ and watching YouTube videos on people playing it,” she said.
From there, her passion for music blossomed and she taught herself how to play bass and guitar atop the gifted ukulele.
She says her motivation is thinking about the future.
“If I don't continue with this, my future will not look like how I want it to. I'm doing the work now so that it can look like that,” she said, while talking about how hard she is working during her younger years. “I'm doing it now to look happier in my future. I’m going to do some work now so I can have more fun as an adult.”
Cheyenne is taking college courses along with her high school studies with the intention of getting her associate’s as she earns her high school diploma.
Though she currently has no major, she is taking general education courses including music-based classes at Los Medanos College.
“One day she began to sing and we’re like ‘she can sing, we had no idea,’” said Lindsay Cheyenne, Shellye’s mother.
Influenced by any music she hears; Cheyenne co-wrote her own single ‘The Promise’ which was released on Spotify last year.
Musician and producer Andrew Hernandez, known as Project A.N.D.Y., recorded, produced and published the single July 2020.
Hernandez and Cheyenne met — kind of — at an open mic night at a venue in Friendswood, Texas, where both were performing.
“I was there with my good friend who sings and we went to jam some songs together. I already had the guitar chords to the song that would become ‘The Promise,’ but I couldn’t find the right voice and songwriter until I heard Shellye sing after my turn was over,” said Hernandez. “She sang a Billie Eilish song and when I heard her sing my first thought was ‘that’s the voice I picture singing the song!’”
Hernandez describes himself as an introvert, which resulted in him complimenting her voice but not pitching the project he had been working on until they met again at another event in Galveston.
“I built up the courage to approach her with the song idea and she was excited to work with me on it,” he said. “Shellye’s song was a unique process because it was the song that put me out of my element. I write different styles within rock/metal music mainly but this was my first soft pop/singer-songwriter kind of song and actually will remain one of the hardest songs I’ve ever produced.”
The song is a somber tune because it is about the move she and her family made from Texas to California for her father's employment. The recording session lasted about five hours and took place right before Cheyenne was set to leave the state of Texas.
Cheyenne is working on writing her own music as she continues to play live at local venues and hopes to get booked for other small city events.
“I enjoy small venues and I kind of procrastinate growth because having this small platform is really cool,” said Cheyenne, going on to express how much she enjoys not having tabloids on her or pressure from thousands in the public about her music. “I worry that [my platform] would grow too big, because I want to be able to know and speak to everyone who listens to my music. I want to give that chance to people, because it's cool to talk to someone you admire.”
The young artist continues to grow and can be found on Instagram at @Shellyecheyennemusic or Spotify.