By Sadie Fowler
What’s in a name? If you’re Shi’Ann Jones, 15, of Bowling Green, Kentucky — the answer is … a lot. Shi’Ann is a name associated with talent, singing, success, and many other things. Perhaps most appropriate, the name Shi’Ann Jones means, both literally and figuratively, endurance.
Shi’Ann Jones flew on the fast-track to stardom last year when she landed a spot on The Voice television show’s Top 10 finals. Now, she’s working hard to live out her dream while maintaining the balance of being a normal student and teen. Thankfully, her family, including mom Marilyn and dad Ricky, have fully embraced their daughter’s success from day one and have been vital in helping her pursue her passions while staying grounded.
“The meaning of her name is endurance,” her dad said, explaining how Shi’Ann received her name as a baby. “Before I even knew her mom was pregnant I woke up in the middle of a night after having a dream. God told me I was going to have a daughter and her name was going to be Shi’Ann.”
Shi’Ann’s father shares a passion for singing and is the one who initially noticed his daughter’s God-given talent when she was a toddler. She’d run around the house making interesting noises; not crying, but showing signs that would foreshadow the big voice she had within.
Ricky mentioned this to Marilyn who initially resisted Dad’s desire to encourage a possible pursuit in the music world.
“I could hear ripples in her voice and I approached my wife and she said, ‘Baby, leave her alone,’” he laughed, as the family reminisced. “I took her under my wing, though, and taught her the laws of music … We’d sing until two or three in the morning some nights.”
Ricky continued working with his daughter and regularly checked back with Marilyn, reminding her of Shi’Ann’s raw talent. Eventually, she gave him her blessing.
“I said, well, OK, if she really wants to do this,” Marilyn laughed.
Shi’Ann was about seven then and from there, Ricky took her to every event he could (he is also a singer), taught her the National Anthem and entered her in singing contests. Turns out, she attracted attention early on, winning a major contest in Clarksville that garnered her early support as well as confidence.
Prior to last year’s season on The Voice, Shi’Ann sent in a video for the show’s SnapChat competition and received an almost immediate response. Evidently, Alicia Keys had seen her SnapChat feed and wanted to hear more.
Shi’Ann was then invited to a private and then executive audition for the show, both in Los Angeles, and moved on to the blind auditions where her coach became Jennifer Hudson.
“When we got the call (inviting her to L.A.) we were like, ‘Shi’Ann! Shi’Ann!’” her mom recalled with excitement. “They (the show) immediately went into business and wanted to know things like who and how many would be coming … it was surreal.”
The life-changing experience provided opportunity and a platform in which Shi’Ann could learn and experience fame in a short time. Shi’Ann soaked in all she could from the judges, describing Blake Shelton as being fun and Adam Levine as being cool.
“Jennifer (Hudson) was amazing,” Shi’Ann said. “She was always singing, off and on, at all random times … She’d say, ‘You’re going to make it far in this business if you keep pushing.’”
Shi’Ann said, even on a huge stage, her nerves go away as soon as she begins singing. Her favorite performance on The Voice was when she performed Maria Carey’s “Vision of Love.” The judges touted her as having a huge voice far beyond her years. During the blind auditions, judges were shocked when they turned around and saw she was so young.
“When I’m singing, I feel like I’m in a different world,” she said, calling Beyoncé her personal idol. “If I were giving advice to other kids I’d tell them if they have a dream, don’t stop for nobody. If you want to pursue your dream don’t let anyone — not your parents, your friends or anyone else — change that. Everything will work out if you have faith.”
Balance is something hard for anyone to maintain, especially a busy and active student. Throw Shi’Ann’s dose of fame and a schedule that now includes a lot of weekend gigs all over the country … balance definitely becomes a challenge.
Her parents, both very involved with oversight regarding Shi’Ann’s career and scheduling, are protective of their daughter. When things seem to get overwhelming for Shi’Ann, Ricky says she tends to withdraw and utilize her creative outlet of song writing.
“When she first went back to school I think it was hard for her,” he explained. “She was gone from June until January … When she came back from The Voice she was like a celebrity. Everyone wanted to be her friend and socialize. Some just wanted to say they were with her, to be a part of the fame. It wasn’t all good or all bad, but she’d come to us for advice and we’d guide her as best we could.”
The family, which includes another nine children besides Shi’Ann, finds strength in God and prays every day before leaving home.
“We trust God and believe,” Ricky said. “We trust him with whatever endeavors he brings our way. We know God has us on a mission and we just want to spread His love.”
What’s next? Shi’Ann is excited to be performing in several events across the country, but she’s most proud of a project she’s working on that will be dedicated to the victims of recent school shootings. She’s written a song — the words of the songs came to her in her own dreams — called “Strong” that will be recorded in their honor.