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Q+A with Eva Holbrook of SHEL

What makes a good musician?
I think it has a lot to do with character. It’s those traits that are easy to identify–like endurance, diligence and perseverance.  It takes so much work to perfect your craft and, I think, it makes some nearly insane.  But that insanity just means that they’re really into their art. I mean, insanity isn’t a good quality to have when relating to people, but the best artists are nearly there.  The ones that rise above can strike a balance between that passion and relating to people, creating and finding joy in their art, and finding a huge amount of joy in bringing it to other people.

Do you remember the first song you wrote?
The first song I wrote was horrible, so I don’t really remember it. When I think about the first songs I wrote, when I was fourteen, they were all bad.  I didn’t give up though—I loved it.  But I do remember the first few good songs I started writing when I was 16.  I can distinguish between the early work and those breakthrough times.  I guess I knew it was something different when I felt the joy of bringing art to people that really liked and enjoyed it with me.  I had never felt true joy at that caliber until I felt the joy of others listening to my music.

What’s the least exotic place you’ve played? 
Actually in Denver. Some small diner. I can’t remember the name, but we played in the basement of some converted apartment building/restaurant. They promised us a packed house, and I was 14 at the time so I was very excited.  The ended up overcharging us for food that made me sick, and only three people were there, and I think one left during the performance.  I was throwing up between songs.  Definitely the worst show, and the least exotic moment I can remember.

What instrument do you wish you could play?
Uilleann Pipes

You’re on the road with three sisters all the time. How would you describe the experience in seven words?
Joyful. Challenging. Amazing. Adventurous. Always strange. Magical.

If you weren’t a musician, you’d be…
A farmer. A small-scale poly-culture farmer.  Hannah and Liza would open up a restaurant that I would provide food for and my Sarah would be making films.

Why do you think people listen to SHEL?
Our uniqueness. Similar to the reasons why you enjoy a particular person.  If that person is true to themselves and living passionately, it can be disarming in the best kind of way.  My hope, or what I’ve heard from fans, is that people are inspired by SHEL because we’re living it that way—staying true to ourselves, living passionately, doing what we love.

Eva (holding mandolin above) is a member of SHEL along with three of her sisters—Sarah, Hannah, and Liza.  They are Colorado natives (of Ft. Collins) and will be playing at TEDxMileHighWomen. 

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