Waters has been a singer and rhythm guitarist since she was 11 years old, but she always preferred covering other artists or playing music written for her. “I learned way back when I was a little kid, but I just never had never tried to write my own music," Waters says. "About two years ago, I just decided to start putting things on paper."
Now Waters is preparing to release her second studio album, the first with her own music. With the new album Drive
, Waters has had the chance to establish herself as an artist. “I wrote all of the songs on this record, with a co-writer on one song, so all of the music has a real taste of me and the genres that I like,” Waters says. “And each of the songs has its own little story.”
The song “Need to Rest” is one track off the new record with a story behind it worth telling. A few years ago, Waters and her husband traveled on a sailboat, and it was just the two of them running the boat night and day.
“When I woke up after one of his shifts, he told me this story about a little bird that landed on the boat and was tired, so she couldn’t fly away,” says Waters. “And she struggled a second, then just rested a few minutes on our deck — just sat there until she was ready to go.” The bird’s simple break struck Waters and she wrote “Need to Rest” to remind herself that it’s okay to just take a breather sometimes.
The new record’s namesake was inspired by an article that Waters read on a friend’s Facebook page. The article spoke of a man who died of cancer without fulfilling his lifelong dream of a cross-country road trip, but passed his car on to his son, who eventually took his father’s trip.
“It’s a seize-the-moment song. Like if there’s something you want to do, just drive — just do it,” says Waters. “It’s also a metaphor for my music career, because there was a spot in the middle of my life when I stepped away from it. Then two or three years ago, I just realized, 'This is what I’m mean to do, and I need to just do it.'”
As Waters prepares to share a bill with Loretta Lynn this week, we’d say she’s on the right track. “The Loretta show is a very big deal, and it’s quite an honor to be able to do, so we’ve been working really hard to prepare,” Waters says, as she attempts to tone down the excitement in her voice. The show will take place Aug. 22 at the Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, with the doors opening at 4 p.m. Local singer/songwriter Ronnie Johnson will open at 6 p.m. before Waters takes the stage at 7:15 p.m. Lynn goes on at 8:30 p.m.
Shelly Waters moved from the Louisiana Gulf Coast to Charleston about eight years ago when her husband’s work brought the pair here. Now the singer/songwriter is a regular fixture on the Chucktown music scene, and she's even landed a spot opening for Loretta Lynn at Boone Hall Plantation this Friday. Though Waters formerly had a swamp-pop kind of sound, Waters’ music now falls more in the country or Americana genre .