Performance, Art and Small Business. That’s what I do.
Seizing opportunity and not waiting for things to drop in my lap is how I live my life. It’s why after graduating from college, I moved to Memphis, TN and worked as an entertainer, actor and singer playing music in clubs on Beale Street. It’s why I auditioned for NBC’s The Voice and went to Los Angeles, CA, to be on TV’s most popular reality show. It’s also why I decided to move back to the Piedmont to start my own media business. And now, it’s why I’m running for Virginia State Delegate here in District 18.
I know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur in this area. Young people leave and rarely come back. We need to keep our talent here by expanding opportunity. I am one of the few younger people in this region who came back to run a business. It’s a primary reason why I decided to run for political office. Today’s disruptive economy and accelerating uncertainties demands young people develop the ability to see opportunities among the fog and have the courage to act. It is a skill set employers are looking for and communities need. Thinking deeper, learning faster and collaborating better is how we can make the Piedmont a home of opportunity for all.
I have been in the music business during the most tumultuous times ever for that industry. Technology and changing distribution systems have completely displaced a generation of creative professionals. Learning to pivot, bounce back, fail, try new things are all essential skills necessary to live today.
Returning to Virginia, I founded the Shields Brothers, a rock harmony singing duo with my younger brother, Rory. We started playing locally in the Charlottesville, Warrenton and Culpeper areas, eventually getting selected by Ceelo Green as Finalists on NBC’s the Voice, Season 2. From there we raised funds on Kickstarter from our fans to produce music and videos. Spending time in Los Angeles on a variety of acting and music projects, we ended up singing backup for 80s Poison star, Bret Michaels. Along the way, we built a significant YouTube and podcasting presence, garnering over 1.2 million views and 150,000 downloads on our Who Stole What podcast.
My Virginia roots go deep. I can trace my lineage back to Richmond 1838. Presently, I live on my family’s (small) horse farm in Rixeyville, Virginia.