Music has been touted as a universal language for centuries, but in reality, the whole world does not see it that way. Keenan Shotwell is one of the few artists who approach music with the sole goal of connecting with everyone at a time without trying to appeal to or impress a specific audience.
The Memphis native started his music journey with Jackson Studios in the early ’90s, graduated from Whitehaven High School in 1993, and attended the University of Memphis. He mastered the organ and piano as a young adult in college and has spent the last two decades etching his name in gold in the music industry. He won the Verizon Wireless How Sweet The Sound twice and has orchestrated and played for The Herbie Hancock Tribute, A Night with JoeSample, and the MLK50 Tribute. He has also performed on the same stage with many national artists such as Melba Moore, DeDe Bridgewater, and Kurt Whalum, Karen Clark-Sheard, Cyrus Chestnut, Ray Parker Jr, and others.
Keenan Shotwell’s mastery of organ and piano has played a significant role in his career trajectory and has propped him up for some of the biggest projects. He performed on piano for the 2010 film “The Grace Card” and is a seasoned film producer under his entertainment company, Walk Well Production. Keenan Shotwell’s brand is based on decategorizing genres and making sure music gets heard irrespective of the classification. “In my opinion, music is music regardless of the style of music. I believe the lyrics create the content that reaches the heartstrings of a person’s life,” he said.
Drawing influence and inspiration from many iconic musicians like Derrick Jackson, Ralph Lofton and Quincy Jones, whose ”Back on the Block” had a fusion of African drums, jazz, hip-hop, pop, and R&B, Keenan Shotwell revels in the beauty of lyricism and hopes musicians can see lyrics as what makes music what it is. His goal is to break down stereotypes about music genres. “For example, hip-hop was considered to be a tool for violence for a long time, but Quincy Jones dispelled that notion. I feel the same charge and want to create a vehicle that many can relate to regardless of the beat,” he said.
Despite being a firm believer in the Christian faith, Keenan Shotwell believes the message can be passed in different ways without limits. He does not see himself as a gospel, jazz, hip-hop, pop, R&B, or country music artist. Instead, he sees himself as a diligent artist bridging the gaps and creating feel-good music for everyone. He wants to connect with everyone experiencing highs and lows in life and get them to hear his message. “I have a heart for those that are doing life with no purpose. I feel that my music will bring a sense of hope to a dying world. Everything is so political right now, which is disappointing. I want the homeless person to have the same self-respect as those in the White House,” Keenan said.
Over the next few years, he hopes to leverage his success and impact into building fine art schools worldwide. His goal is to create a platform for anyone to succeed by developing a truly open, accessible and creative environment for everyone interested in music to learn and create music. Empowering the world and making a difference in it are his primary missions. With his story, he hopes to influence and motivate young people to focus on becoming their best selves. “I want them to feel the realness in my core values and know that they can hold true to those values and transcend the music arena,” he said.