Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
At age 6, Shane McAnally sat on the edge of his mother’s bed in their Mineral Wells home, his eyes glued to the television set.
It was the night of the Country Music Association Awards in 1980.
Barbara Mandrell took the entertainer of the year award and a little ditty called “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” by George Jones, won song of the year.
Young Shane watched as many of his country music heroes graced the stage on that small screen. What happened next, his mother, Margaret Terry remembers very clearly.
Shane looked back at his mom and said, “Mama, one of these days, I’m gonna be there.”
Thirty-three years later, Shane has an office on Music Row in Nashville, Tenn., and works as a singer, songwriter and producer.
Shane has been involved with eight No. 1 singles this year with some of country music’s most famous names, like Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan, to name just a few.
When “Country Music’s Biggest Night” comes around this year, Nov. 6, Shane will be nominated for four CMAs. He’s nominated twice in the song-of-the-year category – as a songwriter for “Merry Go ‘Round,” sung by Kacey Musgraves, and “Mama’s Broken Heart,” sung by Miranda Lambert. It is only the second time in the CMA’s 47-year history that a songwriter has competed against himself for song of the year.
He is also nominated for album of the year for co-producing Musgraves’ new record “Same Trailer, Different Park” and for single of the year for producing Musgraves’ song “Merry Go ‘Round.”
In Shane’s words, “It was a good year to know Kacey Musgraves.”
But as is often the case, Shane’s success did not happen overnight. It’s just been in the last five years that his songwriting and producing careers have truly taken off. But to properly tell Shane’s story, it would seem best – as they say in “The Sound of Music” – to start at the very beginning; a very good place to start
As a young child, growing up in Mineral Wells, he was already musically inclined. His mother said she remembered picking him up from daycare when he was around four years old and he would be sitting on the fence, singing while he waited for her. When he was 13, he started working as a radio DJ and was a regular performing at local opries and the Crazy Water Festival.
“I just wanted to be in the music business,” he told the Index recently. “Everybody in town watched me do this all through my childhood. I always wrote my own songs, even as a kid.”
Shane graduated from Mineral Wells High School in 1993 and left to attend the University of Texas in Austin, but he didn’t stay there long. When he was 19, he decided college wasn’t the right fit for him and
moved to Nashville to pursue his musical dreams. His mom supported his decision, saying she “knew where his heart was.”
Shane got a break in 1999, when he signed with Curb Records and released his self-titled debut album that produced three singles. It was a big step for an aspiring musician, but not enough to allow Shane to stop waiting tables or bar-tending to make ends meet.
“I was playing music for the passion, but I wasn’t able to survive on it,” he said. “The last five years have been a pretty major turn. It’s just amazing that the community here in Nashville has been so accepting of the things I’ve done the last few years. I mean, I get to make a living doing music.”
It was in the last five years that Shane started focusing exclusively on songwriting and producing. The fruits of his labor appear to have been fantastic.
Besides the artists he is up for awards with this year, Shane has written music for other Nashville royalty: such as of Reba McEntire, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw, to name a few. He has written more of country music’s latest hits than many realize, including “Better Dig Two” sung by The Band Perry, “Downtown” sung by Lady Antebellum and “Come Over” by Kenny Chesney.
“I have gotten to work with so many people in the last year, it’s hard to say favorites,” Shane said when asked who he has most enjoyed working with. “It’s just a matter of people finding what you do interesting enough to pull you into their world and let you sort of influence them. It’s hard to say. Country music singers and musicians are all such down-to-earth, great people. They’re people you’d be friends with anyway. There’s just not a bad one in the bunch.”
Shane even lets his mom run in his star-studded circles. Just a few weeks ago she said she met Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Jake Owen.
“They’re just all great people,” she said. “They’re just like me and you.
It’s really exciting for Shane. And all of Nashville loves Shane. He is so loved and has so much support there.”
Adding to his growing repertoire, this Renaissance man of country music is now also in the process of opening a new Broadway musical.
Shane has co-written the music for “Hee Haw” the musical, loosely based on the famous television show. It’s a love story with familiar characters that Shane has been working on for over a year.
The first table reading was this past week and Shane hopes the show can be on the Broadway stage by 2015. Before he visited New York for that first reading, he told the Index he is so new to the process of Broadway productions that his trip would feel like “country comes to town.”
“It’s a super exciting process I have loved,” he said. “It’s a totally different part of my brain. It’s a completely family oriented show. I really have the best of hopes for the show. It could be great.”
With all that he has accomplished and continues to accomplish, Shane credits his upbringing in Mineral Wells as one of the main reasons for his success.
“A lot of people will say, ‘I can’t wait to go home and show all those people what I did,’” Shane said about the negative attitude some have about where they came from. “The truth is, I had so much support, I feel like the reason I ended up in Nashville is because everybody [in Mineral Wells] told me I could.
“Everybody always championed my music and would come and watch me play. Everybody believed in me, more than I believed in me a lot of times. I take that with me every day. That really is the greatest gift I could have gotten. I just feel so loved.”
But of all the people that influenced and encouraged Shane along the way in Mineral Wells, none was more important than his mother.
Like any son, Shane loves his mother dearly and said her knack for story-telling taught him a lot about writing country music. She is also the inspiration for many of Shane’s songs. For example, Shane said his award-nominated song “Merry Go ‘Round” contains many lines that his mother used to tell him. He said he gives her a lot of verbal credit.
“I guess she’s probably wondering when she’s gonna get paid,” he said as he laughed.
“Mama’s Broken Heart” is the song that pulls content from Margaret Terry the most, though. For those who haven’t heard Miranda Lambert sing it, the song tells the story of a mother telling her daughter to pull it together and not act up in public after a tough break-up. Needless to say, the daughter doesn’t take that advice too well.
Shane laughed when he explained his own mother’s place in the song.
“She’s the momma,” he said. “I don’t know if she’ll like everybody knowing that, but it’s true. I say that on stage a lot. She’s the momma and I have a sister and their relationship was definitely the inspiration for that song.”
Thanks to his mother’s influence and the support of his hometown,
Shane is achieving is his dream every day. Conventional wisdom would say he has “made it,” but that’s not the label Shane likes to put on his success. To him, it’s much simpler.
“I’m happy, that’s the thing,” he said. “I’m getting to make a living doing music and I love what I do. To me, that is success.”
No matter what lies ahead of Shane for the rest of his career, it’s safe to say that Mineral Wells will be behind him, every step of the way.
Tune in to ABC on WFAA/Channel 8 to watch the CMAs, Nov. 6, and see the next chapter of Shane’s journey.