Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks are a Celtic pagan folk band fronted by the Irish multi-instrumentalist singer Joy Shannon on Celtic harp, cello and harmonium. The Beauty Marks have released 6 studio albums: “As in the Wilderness” (2008), “The Opium Wars or Love in Lieu of Laudanum” (2009), “The Black Madonna” (2010), “Out of My Dreams and Into My Arms” (2011), and “The Oracle” (2013, Kalinkaland Records, Germany). The Beauty Marks released their 6th studio album “Mo Anam Cara” on the Spring Equinox, March 20, 2015.
“Mo Anam Cara” is Joy’s most conceptual, pagan and ghostly work to date, based entirely on the ancient Celtic calendar with a song for every holiday from Samhain to Mabon, complete with stories of the goddesses that govern each time of year. The title of the album “Mo Anam Cara” means a soulmate or spiritual guide in Irish, and has a double meaning within the work. The goddesses who occupy each song track can be viewed as spiritual guides, teaching the lessons of nature at each time of year, while many of them also sought their own soulmates in various forms of love stories. The album also interweaves personal stories of Joy’s throughout the work, masked within the mythology.
Through their 8 years together, the Beauty Marks have toured through the Southwestern United States as well as the UK. Additionally, their music has garnered them the support of radio stations throughout the US (Radio Blacklight in Washington, Indie 103.1, KPFK Los Angeles), Germany (Radio 92.5 Bremen), and Argentina (Sin Sentido Radio). The Beauty Marks were named “Artist of the Year” by Radio Bremen and one of their albums was named “Top 20 Albums of 2009” in Argentina.
While Joy writes music that is uniquely her own, she has her roots in operatic voice training as well as Irish folk music. She began her music career in 2000, singing and playing accordion and cello in the infamous avant-garde Gothic band “The Deathblossoms.” They released an underground studio and live album of “haunted house performance art music.”
Then, in 2002, Joy went solo and began to delve into her Celtic pagan roots and write music inspired both by her own life experiences and by ancient goddesses and mythology on Celtic harp. Around 2005, she formed “The Beauty Marks.” The inspiration for the band name came from a line in Joy’s poetry which referred to “turning scars into beauty marks.” That embodied what Joy believed music and art can do in her life- turn difficult experiences into works of beautiful art- so thus the band name was born. The name has an additional layered meaning, which stems from Joy’s historical studies. Beauty marks were historically considered marks of the devil during witchcraft trials from the middle ages to the 17th century. This double meaning is embraced in the pagan undertones of Joy’s music.
In addition to her band the Beauty Marks, Joy also sings with the UK-based dark ambient/industrial band “The Offering,” with which she has released 3 albums: “The Fisherman’s Daughter”(2009), “Orphan Kisses”(2010), “The Wild and the Wonderful” (2011). Joy has also recorded and performed with the Dovelles, Gitane Demone of Christian Death and Robin and Vix.
A true mixed media artist, Joy Shannon’s background is in the visual arts. She has illustrated much of the album art for “The Beauty Marks” as well as directing and designing their music videos. For the last several years, Joy has collaborated with talented photographer and cinematographer Xun Chi to create much of the visual imagery associated with the band, from the promotional photography to the music videos for the songs “The Horse Latitudes” (2011), “As You Are” (2011), and “Alkonost” (2013). in 2013, Joy collaborated with tattoo artist Mike Giant and filmmaker Austin Page to create music video “Liam Neeson“, which features her being tattooed by Giant.
With the 2015 album “Mo Anam Cara,” the band releases their most startling music video to date. Collaborating with horror film director Matt Kollar, they created a music video for the song “Midsummer Witch Hunt” which recalls the witch hunts of the Middle Ages.
by Daniel Vandenberg, April 29, 2015
Mo Anam Cara, meaning soulmate or spiritual guide in Gaelic, is the sixth album from Irish singer and multi-instrumentalist Joy Shannon and her band The Beauty Marks. With shades of conceptual black metallers Ulver, Mo Anam Cara is a musical tribute to the goddesses and spiritual guides of Celtic and Norse mythology (plus a little Tolkien) in the form of a circular journey through the seasons of the year, with each track detailing a different holiday or pagan tradition from the ancient Celtic calendar. Samhain, Beltaine, Lugnasadh and Mabon, as well as the mythologies and deities behind them, all get a look in.
While metal acts have long had a fixation with pagan mythology and archaic traditions, Joy Shannon and The Beauty Marks come closer than ever to summoning the feeling of winter in a tenth century Northern forest. This is as much down to Shannon’s instruments-of-choice being the Celtic harp, cello, and harmonium – with some super-distorted electric guitar adding background colour and a modern industrial/noise edge – as it is to her lyrical fixations. Mo Anam Cara is atmospheric, evocative, haunting and beautiful, with ethereal layered vocals and glistening harmonies – Shannon has previous experience in operatic voice training – floating atop mostly traditional instrumentation that is at times rustic and intimate, at others orchestral and grand. Think Joanna Newsom lending her harp to Sabbath Assembly to play on a Cave/Ellis score to a Wicker Man prequel and you’re halfway there. In keeping with its subject matter, the music on Mo Anam Cara is as unsettling as it is eerily poignant, with moments of undeniable beauty arising from the gloom (see “Ostara Blodeuwedd” and “Finduilas” in particular).
Music has been renowned for its ability to conjure images and emotions, to enchant and bewitch, descriptors which are particularly meaningful with regards to Joy Shannon and The Beauty Marks’ invocation to age-old spiritual traditions and knowledge. Mo Anam Cara closes with “Mabon Airmid (Bring Back The Dead)”, a track named for the Irish goddess whose song could raise the dead, a fitting finish for an album that is its own act of giving musical life to an all-but-lost spirituality and sense of magic.
Tironas Magazine, Lithuania
Orkus Magazine, Germany
Review of “The Oracle”, 2014
„This album is dedicated to anyone who has ever lost their voice and had to fight to get it back“ ist im schmalen, aber schicken Digipak vermerkt. Welchen musikalischen Weg aber wählt Joy Shannon um die Namenlosen ohne Stimme, die für ihr Recht kämpfen müssen, zu würdigen? Die Instrumentierung aus Cello, Harfe und Gesang, allesamt von der alleinigen Songwriterin übernommen, könnte in Richtung Loreena McKennitt deuten, zumal mit „The Parting Glass“ traditionelles irisches Liedgut eingebaut wird, welches bei Miss McKennitt ebenfalls bereits Verwendung fand. Shannon klingt dagegen allerdings weniger mystisch, weniger verträumt und weniger schön im basischen Sinn des Wortes, sondern fordernder, avantgardistischer, unkonventioneller und gothischer bzw. (dark) waviger. Sie lädt Gastgitarristen, eine Viole, Percussionisten und Background-Sänger als Studiogäste ein, verbleibt aber die meiste Zeit mit ihren Instrumenten im Vordergrund. Die spärlichen Arrangements tragen zudem ihren Teil zur fragilen Außenwirkung bei. Zudem klingt „The Oracle“ so direkt, als ob Shannon in Deinem Wohnzimmer sitzt und die Harfe sowie ihre Stimmbänder unmittelbar und nur für Dich erklingen lässt. Dass sich die werte Dame bei „Faramir“ textlich von Tolkien inspirieren ließ und für „Ophelia“ gleich die originalen Wortlaute Shakespeares übernimmt, rückt den eher ungewöhnlichen 12-Tracker zwar etwas in die Kulturbüro-Schiene, verbleibt aber letztendlich eher als Fußnote. Lasst Euch von „The Oracle“ am besten über Kopfhörer fesseln.
Ain Actel Lorbeerblatt, Germany
Review of “The Oracle”, 2014
von Marius Meyer
Besinnliches zur Weihnachtszeit? Nicht schon wieder. Richtig: Nicht schon wieder. So etwas ist dem Label Kalinkaland fremd und so ist es eher Zufall, dass das Album The Oracle der irischen Sängerin Joy Shannon und ihrer Band The Beauty Marks zu dieser Zeit des Jahres erscheint. Und dass Musik bei Kalinkaland gerne in ruhigeren Gefilden unterwegs ist, ist ja ebenfalls nichts Neues. Nun also dieser erfreuliche Neuzugang des Labels, der ein ruhiges und umso eingängigeres Folk-Album veröffentlicht. Auf insgesamt zwölf Stücken spannt die Irin einen großen Bogen und fesselt den Zuhörer mit ihren Klängen.
Schon wenn sie das Album mit dem fragilen Morrigan eröffnet, einem ruhigen und Spannung aufbauenden Intro, ist man angenehm von der warmen bis melancholischen Stimme angetan und gespannt auf das, was folgen wird. Titel wie The Parting Glass bestätigen einen dann auch in seiner Erwartungshaltung. Keltisch angehauchte Musik mit spärlicher Instrumentation, die gerade dadurch ihre Schönheit entfaltet. Fragile Schönheit in Folk, mit irischen und keltischen Folk-Motiven und -Einflüssen angereichert. Damit kann Joy Shannon mit ihrer Band hier auf ganzer Länge überzeugen. Auch Liam Neeson beispielsweise beweist das und zeigt, wie intensiv das klingen kann, was hier geboten wird.
Wenn man das alte Sprichwort „Willst du gelten, mach dich selten“ anwenden mag, würde es hier passen. Aber man könnte auch „Gut Ding will Weile haben“ sagen. Wie man es auch dreht und wendet: Kalinkaland ist nicht gerade für Veröffentlichungen am laufenden Band bekannt, kann aber immer wieder mit sehr hoher Qualität punkten. So auch hier. Eine wirklich schöne Scheibe!
Side-Line Magazine, Belgium
Review of “The Oracle”, Oct 2013.
Click here for full review.
Genre/Influences: Celtic music, ethereal.
Content: Joy Shannon is a real phenomenom. This talented multi-instrumentalist and singer gained some recognition singing in The Offering. She also performed together with Gitane Demone. But the main work of Joy Shannon started in 2002 when she begun as a solo-artist exorcising her passion for Celtic/Pagan music. Together with The Beauty Marks she now has launched her 5th self-released album.
Joy Shannon & The Beauty Marks invite us to join a new Celtic trip characterized by Joy Shannon playing Celtic harp, cello and harmonium. The Beauty Marks are achieving the compositions by bass- and guitar play, percussion and backing vocals. “The Oracle” is a beautiful trip filled with reverie and mysticism. The authenticity of the compositions is one of the main elements and forces of this record. Moving in between melancholia and prosperity the songs are little jewels for the ears. The sound is a source of prosperity. The ballad-like songs are evasive and sensitive.
“The Oracle” is an intimate sound universe filled with grace. The Irish musicians moves back to their roots on the adaptation of the Irish traditional song “The Parting Glass”. The song “Ophelia” has been clearly inspired by Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” while another song like “Faramir” was inspired by Tolkien’s “The Lord Of The Rings”.
There are several outstanding pieces featured on this work, but I want to make a special mention for “Dreams”. The title perfectly matches with the wafting atmosphere that embellishes this beautiful song. The song is also characterized by a beautiful duo sung. Both female singers seem to be in total harmony with each other.
In the meantime Joy Shannon & The Beauty Marks have been signed by Kalinkaland. “Oracle” will be re-released, which is a damned good thing.
Conclusion: If you don’t know Joy Shannon & The Beauty Marks yet, this “Oracle” is a delicious opportunity to enter the delicious world of this talented project.
Best songs: “Dreams”, “Everything You Are”, “Ophelia”, “Will You Love Me”.
Darkroom Magazine, Italy
Interview with Joy Shannon, Sept 2013
Click here for full article.
di Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi
Come abbiamo già dato ad intendere in sede di recensione, siamo rimasti basiti nel constatare come un talento quale quello di Joy Shannon e dei suoi The Beauty Marks fosse rimasto relegato al mondo delle autoproduzioni, senza destare l’interesse di alcuna etichetta di settore. Un destino avverso che ci aveva tenuta nascosta questa meravigliosa cantautrice irlandese (ora dislocata negli States ma, come leggerete, pronta a rientrare in quel Vecchio Continente a lei tanto caro), facendo passare inosservati per mancanza di visibilità ben quattro album ed un EP prima del recente e da noi promosso a pieni voti “The Oracle”. L’arte della Shannon meritava senza ombra di dubbio il pieno supporto di una label di spessore già dal primissimo lavoro firmato con nome e cognome assieme ai The Beauty Marks, ma si usa dire che il tempo sia galantuomo, e così è stato per la bella e sensibile singer/violoncellista/arpista irlandese, che, dopo tanti anni di sacrifici per amore della musica, ha infine trovato la giusta etichetta cui affidarsi per uscire dalle maglie dell’autoproduzione e per compiere il passo in avanti decisivo in termini di visibilità, come più avanti avrete modo di leggere. Senza indugi, sedotti dalla bellezza di un disco come “The Oracle” e di un suono che la stessa Joy descrive come ‘celtic pagan folk’, siamo andati a scoprire questa grande artista, disponibilissima nel concedersi ai nostri microfoni in questa lunga, amabile ed approfondita chiacchierata…
“Pure Beauty in Music Form”
By Erich Von Metzger, iTunes Review
Published: April 2013
This is an otherworldly and darkly beautiful epic of love, loss, and devotion flavored with Irish and Russian mythology, told through angelic vocals, celtic harp, and cello. Hauntingly beautiful notes and voice open the album on “Morrigan,” leading into the Portishead-like lyrics and melodic intrigue of “Alkonost.” Wistful Irish folksong nostalgia rings throughout particularly on “The Parting Glass,” and the stark and icy “Starving.” “Étain” is a seductive magic spell conjuring the innocent, strength, and mystery that makes up every woman- maiden, mother and crone.
The album is also not without its bright spots. Tracks like “Everything You Are,” “Ophelia” and “Will You Love Me” shine like sunlight breaking through storm clouds. Joy Shannon & The Beauty Marks also show off their -very particular set of skills- in moving tributes to the gentlemanly strength of Irish actor “Liam Neeson” and devout “Faramir” from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series in brilliant geek fandom turned elegant lyrical praise.
“Art of the Heart: An Interview with Artist and Musician Joy Shannon”
By Brenda Rodriquez, Wild Sister Magazine, Australia
Published: January 2013
“Completing her lucky dozen, a Renaissance lady delivers a tapestry of stunning beauty”
By Dmitry Epstein, August 2012, Israel, http://dmme.net/reviews/reviews51.html#joysha
Ain’t no rest for miss Shannon who operates as both a solo artiste and a focus of attention with British electronica purveyors THE OFFERING and Californian country rockers THE BEAUTY MARKS, so why she’s missing a big-time spotlight could be one of the biggest enigma of our turbulent times. Perhaps, the answer lies in Joy’s own creative turbulence: she doesn’t play an airy fairy card in the way of fellow harp-picker Joanna Newsom – she is an ace wild card, of which her twelfth album, the fourth in this company, is a proof. There’s a solid groundedness in the live take on “Flesh And Blood”: not every girl can get away with a Johnny Cash cover but Shannon shines a new, flickering light onto it, while “The Horse Latitudes”, an opener of her own making, sets a scene for a haunting journey with Joy’s honeyed voice(s) a beacon amidst guitar waves and ivory mist that unfurls into a slow glint of the “Always In All Ways” romance. Such sepia-tinted flow is transcendental, especially when harmonies are conjured, and each new spin takes the listener farther on. On and on, “About Time” hangs its drops in a clamoring, cello-weaving void, yet for all the record’s folksy wistfulness “Home” comes on as an upbeat caress, even though you suspect domestic bliss might be an illusion, one of many in a whole array of mesmerizing songs, all revealing an emotional depth which is hard to fathom. Thus, “For You” rides the accordion and harmonium into cold Gothic gloom and “Worth Fighting For” grows from a mid-paced trot towards death-challenging immortality into something much larger than life that pulls you in and keeps prisoner only to release to the elegant dance of “Always A Burning Fire”. The inner flame, that’s what makes this album so special; a pity, people tend to be turning away from the brightest ones.
“Interview with Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks”
By Christopher Levine for Spacelab.tv
Published: Feb 22, 2012
She has the soul of a philanthropist, the ability to share credit where it is due with her band, the talent to become one of your favorite new artists, and has Souixsie Sioux’s eyes. Joy Shannon is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who plays Celtic harp, cello, accordion, harmonium, organ and piano. This multi-outlet artist deserves our attention. With new projects going and a very inspirational journey so far, she graciously agreed to allow me to interview her. Meet Joy Shannon.
CL: It’s a pleasure to meet you Joy.
JS: Thank you! You too!
CL: For the novice when it comes to your music, tell us a little about your sound.
JS: Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks is a Celtic folk rock band with eclectic influences from all our band members who play everything from metal to classical music. I write the foundation of all the songs on Celtic harp and vocals and then my band builds their guitar, bass and drum parts on top of that. I often play cello, accordion and harmonium as well on top of everything to add dimension to the sound.
CL: The Beauty Marks is a great band name…and learning how you decided on that was very inspiring. Care to share the origins on how you chose it?
JS: The band name comes from a poem I wrote in 2005 or so when I was first seeking out band members to play with me after I had been performing solo for a while. I wrote in this poem how I would “turn scars into beauty marks” and I loved that concept. It fit my philosophy in life in how I believe that art is a way to transform any life experience into a positive, truthful expression that we can share with each other in order to find common ground. I asked my band if they minded being called something so feminine and none of them cared.
CL: I read that U2’s “The Joshua Tree” had a major influence on you at a young age. It did for me as well. How so in your case?
JS: That album touched me at a very young age, and though my tastes in music later in life expanded greatly into more experimental realms than pop music like U2, “The Joshua Tree” album will always be close to my heart. When I was five years-old, I have a very vivid memory of hearing the album through the wall being played very loud from my neighbor’s house. I was deeply attracted to the sheer passion of the music and I remember saying something like this to myself: “I don’t know what that is, but I want to do that with my life.”
CL: In a case of life imitating art, you wound up working for U2. What was that a positive experience?
JS: I did work for U2 backstage when I was 22 years-old. It was an awesome experience because it felt like a full circle moment. I was just starting out pursuing my music solo at that time for the few years before that and it was tough. I was working a ton of jobs to make ends meet and could have gotten distracted from my dreams for so many reasons. Doing the job for U2 reminded me of my original dream to do music and to stay true to my path at that time. It is something I’ve always wanted to thank the band for, because I did not get a chance to express that to them at the time.
CL: Many artists in varied mediums often have a burning desire to create that others simply don’t understand. You have that. How did you move forward to getting your own expression out there?
JS: Thank you for saying so. Though life can be complex, I revel in what is simple. Choosing to do my music and art with my life was a simple choice for me. I realized I would never be happy if I didn’t whole-heartedly pursue my creative expression. It was just something I needed to do, so I have done it- little by little everyday. When I was 13 and 14 and first discovering amazing music that has deeply influenced me like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey, I was seeking out a certain sound in some unknown band. I kept searching through record stores and my friend’s music collections. Finally one day I thought to myself, “I don’t think this band that I am looking for actually exists and I probably just need to write the music myself.” That’s when I first started writing music in earnest and I told myself I would write all my crappy songs then and hopefully by the time I was actually getting my music out there, the songs would all be good.
I think my approach was very monastic. I just worked at music day in and day out and learned as much as I could from other musicians around me. I have built my life around my creativity, working jobs like teaching art that have allowed me time and money to fund my music. The past two Beauty Marks albums (The Black Madonna and Out of My Dreams and Into My Arms) have taught me more patience and peace with the process of music and life. I put all my angst and frustrations into The Black Madonna and I put all my future dreams and hopes into Out of My Dreams and Into My Arms, which somehow has resulted in me being more peaceful in who I am as a songwriter and person. Out of My Dreams and Into My Arms was the best realization of my band’s collaboration thus far and brought me a lot of peace because my band and I realized an artistic vision of mine more fully than ever before. My band and producers have also taught me trust in my music and myself by working with me for so many years and being committed to musically experimenting with me with every album. Their presence in my life and with my music has meant more to me than they even know.
CL: Tell me who The Beauty Marks are and what they do.
JS: The Beauty Marks are Andy Zacharias on upright bass (who is also an incredible composer), Graham Spillman on drums (who has played with way too many bands to mention and can play every style imaginable) and Axel Clarke on percussion (who also plays with this percussion duo called Ironworks and is especially amazing at creating moods and atmospheres in our songs.) We have worked with Long Beach-based producer Brian Frederick a lot over the years and he has influenced our albums’ sound a great deal.
CL: You are involved in some admirable causes. Who are you lending your support to these days?
JS: I love causes which support teenagers and young adults to pursue their dreams. My band has played benefit concerts for an organization called “Generation Hopeful” which raises awareness about teen depression and suicide prevention. I’ve also done workshops for various therapeutic arts centers, with a focus on how the arts can help us be true to ourselves. I am passionate about supporting and encouraging young people to start off life on the right foot and pursue their dreams with support, no matter what their background. It’s close to my heart because I think back to how much music and art meant to me when I was a teenager. I want to pay the inspiration I got from musicians back then forward to other young people.
CL: What can we expect to see from Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks soon?
JS: We are continuing to film and release music videos for our newest album Out of My Dreams and Into My Arms. We have released two videos for this album so far for the songs “The Horse Latitudes” and “As You Are.” Next up to be released is a video for the song “Always in All Ways” which was inspired by 1920s surrealist films and features me belly dancing. I work with amazing visual artists like Suzanne Walsh (aka Ashes in Orange Peels) and photographer/videographer Xun Chi to create the visual reflections of what the songs sound like. I love that process. Well frankly, I just love every bit of the process of making music, from the personal journey of writing and recording the songs, to collaborating and performing with my band, to working with my visual artist friends on album artwork and music videos. It’s all interconnected and deeply inspires me to keep making more music all the time.
Also currently, The Beauty Marks are performing shows and starting to write our next album. During the recording of our latest album, my band and producer Brian Frederick already came up with a new goal and ideas for our next album, which will be more collaborative and experimental than we’ve ever done. I’ve been more inspired by progressive rock and metal bands like Opeth, which I am not sure how that will effect our next album, but will probably find its way into our experimentations somehow. I really enjoy how our music doesn’t have a definite start or finish with albums being released, we basically just work on it gradually all the time and put out about an album a year. That approach makes it so music is never stressful for me, it is my joyful and fulfilling expression of what is happening in my life as I live it.
If you love artists that are in it for all of the right reasons, check out Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks. Then go create something yourself and encourage your children to do the same.
“The Eclectic Company Experience”
By Nate Jackson, OC Weekly, Orange County, CA
Published: Thursday, May 13 2010
Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks
Prolific Long Beach songstress Joy Shannon owes a lot to the cultural appeal of the Celtic harp. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Few local artists have managed to maximize the full potential of this delicate instrument in recent years like Shannon. Known for her spellbinding alchemy of Goth rock, Irish folk and cinematic drama, Shannon concocts albums that brim with rich, melancholy lyricism. Her tunefully deliberate vocals allow you to catch every word. Brushing up against the subtle flourishes of her band, the Beauty Marks, Shannon’s smoldering songs of sin, lust, redemption and destruction have continued to be a recurring force at Eclectic Company shows.
‘CSUF grad student creates unique blend of harmonies’
By Melissa Hoon, Daily Titan, California State University Fullerton, CA
Daily Titan Assistant Opinion Editor
Published: May 12, 2010
CSUF American Studies graduate student Joy Shannon is making her mark on the music scene with bands The Beauty Marks and Offering. For fans of: Tori Amos, Antony and the Johnsons, Joanna Newsom
It’s arguable that real, authentic talent comes a dime a dozen these days. But when you hear Joy Shannon’s music, you’ll know you’ve found a diamond in the rough.
Artistically, there doesn’t seem to be much the 27-year-old Cal State Fullerton American studies graduate student can’t do. She’s a vocalist and plays the cello, piano and Celtic harp, and leads two bands, Long Beach-based Beauty Marks and United Kingdom-based Offering. She also teaches art history, print making, painting and drawing at the Orange County High School of the Arts.
Shannon has played music most of her life. She knew she wanted to be a musician when she heard U2’s “The Joshua Tree” playing from her next door neighbor’s house.
“I remember hearing the passion in (U2’s) music and I thought to myself, ‘Whatever that is, I want to do that,’” Shannon said. “I had no idea of it being a career. My child’s brain didn’t think about careers. I just knew I had to express that type of passion through sound.”
Shannon was determined to follow her dream, and at 22 years old, landed a job doing wardrobe backstage for U2 during their Vertigo tour.
Shannon said her family background helps her write her music, which she describes as melodic, dark, intimate, uplifting and emotional.
“I come from a pretty rough background of abuse, so I have used music as a way to express the voice I didn’t have as a child to heal,” Shannon said. “My philosophy is that my songs gift themselves to me and I use everything I have experienced in my life, and my technical musical skills, to be able to express the song as well as I can. Songs have been the way I have been able to channel the intense emotions of my life into something non-destructive.”
Shannon’s positive outlook on life is reflected in her bands and the way they play their music.
“I am all about peace in my life, my relationships and my band, so I keep it all positive,” Shannon said. “Countless times (during performances), I have looked back to watch (my band members) playing music in the moment, following my lead, and I realize I am living my childhood dream. That’s my favorite part of being a musician and songwriter. I love seeing my songs played by other musicians who add their own flare and I love seeing us all play in the moment with no thoughts of the past or future.”
Sean Wallace, 20, Beauty Marks’ guitarist, said Shannon’s attitude and talent have helped his own talent expand.
“I used to be kind of a metal head, but Joy changed my taste in music to more of a dramatic indie rock with an Eastern-style influence,” Wallace said. “I have a sense of freedom (when playing with Shannon). That’s the best part about playing with the band – it’s a pleasure to play with such a diversity of band members because we can learn a lot from each other.”
Shannon is a print maker, and often displays her artwork at venues during her performances. Her artwork illustrates her songs by depicting emotions that are personified by the human body, and often expresses the female form and shows how loss, pain and tragedy are dealt with and overcome.
Although many of her songs and artwork are dark, her fans agree that positivity is still evident.
“Joy is an in-depth performer who has the whole package and is great at storytelling in her multidimensional songs. Even dramatic songs bring a sense of positivity,” said fan Annakate Mohler, 29, of Long Beach. “She is a great frontwoman with an amazing stage presence, even though she’s behind her huge harp. She has a stunning voice that hits deep, resonate notes, then to high notes in the stratosphere.”
Currently, Shannon is preparing for two album releases. The Offering’s Orphan Kisses is available on iTunes, and Beauty Mark’s The Black Madonna will be released this summer.
“For me to get onstage and sing lyrics about who I am was the scariest thing I have ever done and I keep doing it. In the last few years, I have gained more confidence and support for my music, which has felt like a dream because my very life defies everything I was told as a child growing up in an abusive home,” Shannon said. “To follow my dream, I had to defy the messages of not being good enough or talented from my childhood and say I am good enough to live the life I have always wanted to live.”
Shannon’s introverted childhood contrasts starkly to the popularity she has achieved with her music.
“There is nothing to not like about Joy’s music. I’ve seen her music evolve from the beginning and she has found her niche now,” Mohler said. “She writes and records so much that I don’t know how she keeps up with herself.”