Like the rest of us, country music singer Chevel Shepherd hadn’t planned on the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing springtime quarantine.
The Farmington teenager – and Season 15 winner of television’s “The Voice”singing competition – found that when everything began shutting down in March because of the virus, a year’s worth of projects she had planned were postponed.
Those plans included playing a drive-in concert this weekend in Albuquerque, but the show was canceled because of safety concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Initially, Shepherd said, the idea of quarantine sounded kind of relaxing.
“I think that at first, like two weeks, I was like, ‘OK, I’m getting a little break during the quarantine and it’s going to be nice,” she said. “And then it carried on and I started hating it because I wanted to go out and perform and sing in front of people. But I understand why they did it to keep everybody safe, but I had a lot planned this year.”
When the coronavirus first started to become a thing in the Four Corners, the Shepherd family was celebrating Chevel’s father’s birthday in Florida. When the pandemic really started taking off, the family packed up to head home to Farmington.
They found they had to make a few pit stops for essentials on the way back to New Mexico.
“We ended up leaving – I was supposed to be filming a movie and they canceled that because of coronavirus, and so my family and I left Florida early and started heading back,” she said. “On our way back, we were like, ‘We don’t have any toilet paper at home and everyone’s taking all the toilet paper at the stores!’ So we had to stop in different states and find some. Once we got home, that’s when everything shut down.”
Shepherd said that she actually got a lot of work done during the shutdown – she and her band performed a virtual concert and she filmed a video for her song “The Letter,” (try to watch it without getting a lump in your throat), which is a single off her upcoming album.
When Shepherd won “The Voice” – a singing competition where contestants are chosen by judges from a “blind” audition and then get to train with one of the judges (in Shepherd’s case, it was singer Kelly Clarkson) – it was 2018 and she was a 16-year-old high school junior. As she gets older and works at her craft, she said her music continues to evolve.
“Every time I practice, I think my band and I get better together,” she said. “So, of course, music changes as the years and days go by. But, my music, the style ... I haven’t changed because I love that; I love the classic country music. But as an artist, growing and getting better every day, yes, I do grow.”
Shepherd’s love for the classic-style of country comes through in her songs – her vintage sound is almost a genre all its own within country music.
“I’m wanting to bring the classic sound and style – I’m wanting to incorporate that in my own version,” she said. “The Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker sound – I love that music and I’m trying to incorporate that within my own style and bring back that classic sound.”
Despite the postponements and cancellations, Shepherd isn’t taking it easy: Her new album will be released soon and she is working on a Christmas album as well.
And still having a blast while she’s at it: “Oh, it’s so much fun. I enjoy it.”