I’m with the band

John Mancini Band Shangri-la

You know those people who seem to have endless creative talent? The ones who seem to dabble in everything and do it really well?

I like to surround myself with those people in hopes that their talent will rub off on me. John is one such person. If you’ve been reading long enough, you know that my boyfriend is a musician and writer. And this musician/writer boyfriend of mine is always working on something, it seems. This week, John released his fourth album, and he did all of the songwriting, guitar & vocals, countless other instruments, and editing himself. He also enlisted the talents of a few others, and I got to be one of them.

I have always loved to sing. It’s a fun thing to do whether you do it well or not. (Though I imagine the better you are at singing, the more fun it is.) In high school, I sang and played guitar with friends in talent shows and open mic nights—always envisioning myself as a guitar goddess rockstar lady and ending up forgetting to breathe and not knowing what to do with my hands, but making it through each performance well enough. Still, I had this weird mental block when it came to singing in front of other people, especially in more intimate settings. It was one thing to do it in front of the whole school when the stage lights were blinding and I couldn’t see the audience. But in an intimate group of friends? Terrifying. To me, it was the most vulnerable way you could possibly expose yourself, and that scared the shit out of me. Because of that, I’ve always made an obnoxious point of singing really badly, really loudly. Ask my sisters. It’s my favorite way to torture them. (4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” is my go-to tune.)

Despite not singing a whole lot (at least well) around others, John knew I had a real voice in me. And the gorgeous songs he’d written for his latest release, Shangri-la, were in need of some female harmonies, according to him. Would I sing with him? Well, I’d always secretly wanted to. Of course I would.

Shangri-la consists of 8 songs that span several of John’s songwriting years, the title track being the oldest (and one of my favorites). It’s a concept album, meaning there’s an overarching theme, and listening straight through from beginning to end is recommended for the full experience. It’s a nod to a lot of the more traditional songwriters of the past, much of the instrumentation reminding me of Tom Waits and the vocals, Bob Dylan. (Yes, I just compared my boyfriend to Bob Dylan.) Band members from earlier albums make appearances on Shangri-la, including founding JMB member Tom Haller on drums, and Jessie Firey (of the JMB side project, Ancient Americans) singing lead female vocal on “The End of All Things.” A couple of John’s talented musician friends also make guest appearances, and the lady harmonies/vocals you hear on tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 are yours truly. The coolest part of recording? Getting over myself and just having fun doing it, like you’re supposed to.

So here’s hoping more of John’s talent rubs off on me, but I can say for sure I’ve got the music bug. I miss playing guitar. I want to learn piano. And damnit, I want to sing! I may not have Beyoncé’s range (oh, Bey), but I’ve got a good tone and an ear for harmonies. The confidence part is coming slowly but surely.

If you want to check out the album, it’s available on iTunes, and the hard copy—featuring my photography as the cover art—is available at CDBaby. (Anyone else still jamming out to CDs like me?) I recommend checking out the other albums while you’re at it. Sun King is pure musical genius. If you can spare a “like,” follow John Mancini Band on Facebook for updates. Witty Title Here AND John Mancini Band are going west. And we’ll be writing and singing about it along the way.

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  1. Girl, we are practically the same person sometimes. I have no problem singing on a stage, but singing for a few people (or even one person/significant other!) is SO SCARY to me. I sang all through high school in talent shows and all-state choirs, but stopped after that because I lost ALL of my confidence in my voice. I can’t wait to listen to this album!

    Is it weird that I’m even more excited for you to get to LA now, so that maybe we can just use each other as crutches for things like this and overcome them together? haha one night we can go incognito and sing some karaoke. I think I’d be fearless if I was wearing a wig and glasses 😛


    • YES PLEASE. Maybe it’s the alcohol, the lowered expectations, or a combination of both, but karaoke does not scare me like “real” singing does. I will totally go with you, and we will overcome this mental block together. I call 4 Non Blondes!

  2. Dude, you’re a rock star! Awesome.

  3. You are a fountain of wit, talent, and loove!

  4. Oh my God. I’m listening to the album now, and y’all sound so amazing together! I’m totally buying this album!!! Sorry, I’m totally fan-girling right now.

    • OMG thank you for fan-girling! You will love the full album. Maybe I’m biased, but it’s pretty awesome. Thank you, thank you! 😀

  5. How cool! AHHHHH!!!

    I’m a singer like you, where I don’t really do it seriously in front of people or anything, but I enjoy it. For some reason, I can harmonize REALLY well, but singing on my own is much more difficult!! But whoa, dream come true being on an album! Girl, I can see your halo!

  6. So much of this resonated with me…

    While I know I have a decent singing voice locked up somewhere inside of me, it’s incredibly difficult to coax it to come out these days.

    When I was late elementary and middle school age, I was involved in chorus, I was frequently picked for solos, I was involved with a musical theater group… and then when I got to high school, everything just sort of fell apart… what all happened is a long story, but the short of it was by the end of my freshman year of high school, my confidence had vanished and I could barely squeak out a note without feeling terrified and I’ve never really recovered….

    There are very few people that are able to put me at ease enough to be able to sing… I hold out hope that maybe one day I’ll find people that I can work through my fears with.

    • This seems to be such a common phenomenon. Why do we grow up and get scared? It kinda sucks. So many times I’ve had the urge to belt out and sing but stop myself, because if I’m not perfect (and I’m not), it would just be humiliating. I’m working on it slowly – this was a major step. Hopefully you can do the same. 🙂

  7. Grr! I just wrote out a nice comment for you… Where the hell did it go!?


  8. ah! my boyfriend is an artist and musician, so I’m quite familiar with this boat you’re in 🙂 will check out the album! cheers to him on the completion of such a huge project. OMG – when A gets into the mastering stage, it’s all bets off here and I just don’t see him for like a month. ha!

    • Thanks, lady! Yeah, all the perfecting leading up to the mastering is insane. It’s so hard when you’ve heard the same songs/tracks literally THOUSANDS of times and you’re trying to be critical about volume levels. Don’t know how they do it!

  9. There, that worked. Anyway, as I was saying…
    Cassie, you are one of those talented, creative people, can’t you see? Your photography, your writing… And now you’re featured (in more ways than one) on a released CD? C’mon girl!
    My husband is one of those people. He’s an amazing drummer, super musical, creative, smart and just good at everything he does. I can’t think of anything that I can say I’m really good at… Cleaning, cooking? Honestly, that’s not enough for me.
    G did buy me a guitar a couple of years ago. I couldn’t put it down for a good year, and I love singing (to myself)… But something really discouraged me recently and I can’t seem to get back into it!
    Anyway, I’ve been a stranger to the Blogging world but it’s good to be back… Seems I have a lot of catching up to do! 🙂

    • You are too sweet. Thank you, miss Rachel. 🙂 I hope to see more of you in the blogging world AND you should totally pick up the guitar again. I’ve been wanting to as well, except my fingernails are super long and pretty, and that makes it kind of hard. Whacked priorities? Possibly.


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