Songbird, Amy Yarborough

10 June 2017: Mason Mill Park, Atlanta, Georgia.

Amy Lynn Yarborough first picked up a guitar at age five when she started strumming cords her father taught her on an old acoustic he had stashed in the basement closet. She showed enough promise for her parents to purchase a smaller version for her next birthday. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, she excelled in band and chorus at Chamblee High School and by her senior year, was writing songs and performing in talent shows in her church and local coffee shops. She quickly gained a reputation for being an energetic and uplifting performer.

Interested in a career in the music industry, she enrolled at DeKalb Technical Institute in the early-90s to study sound engineering and, on evenings and weekends, began touring as a performing singer-songwriter throughout North Georgia and surrounding states. While at DeKalb Tech, she befriended a classmate, Claire Belmonte. When Amy was ready to record her first CD, she called on Claire to work the board for her.

One afternoon, Claire and Amy are hanging out in the studio where Claire works, reviewing tracks for Amy’s second album. She takes out her notebook.

“Let me show you something, Claire. Just to get your opinion.”

“Sure.”

She opens the notebook to a page and hands it to Claire, who reads:

“Lone on the road another year.
Don't look back
no time to cry.
Tell the tales
they wish to hear.
Play the pleasing music once again.

“Tear your heart out
make them feel.
They own you now, you know.
They put you in
your guilded cage
and they possess the key.

“Primp your feathers
now's the time.
Tortured songbird,
prisoner of the road.
Break the silence
give the pleasure.

“It all begins again tomorrow.”

“Kind of dark for you,” Claire says. “New direction, perhaps.”

“I don’t know,” Amy says. “That’s my experimental notebook. It’s full of songs like this. I love them but it’s not the image I’m known for portraying.”

“So, create another image.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’ve done two CDs. We could do a third.”

“Are you serious? I just have lyrics. No music.”

“You’re a musician.”

“It’s not my genre.”

“Then have some fun with it. Trust me, Amy, you can pull off rocker chick.”

“Says the Phoenix.”

“See? I know a thing or two about repackaging myself.”

“So, what. Different look; different clothes?”

“Yeah, sure. Why not? The truth would never have to leave this room.”

“Let’s say I try this. Then what?”

“You get it out of your system and continue to focus on what you want to do.”

“So, where would I start?”

“First, you’ll need a name. Something completely different.”

“Something like Shayna Banks?”

“That rolled off your tongue rather easily.”

“Banks is my grandmother’s family name.”

“And Shayna?”

“It’s a name I adopted when I was a kid. For when I didn’t feel like being Amy Lynn.”

Claire nods. “I like it.”

“Okay. I’m not committing to anything, but I will try to come up with a tune to go with this one, then we’ll see.”

Once she immerses herself into the project, Amy finds it much easier than she anticipated. Every few days, she meets with Claire to finish mixing her second album and to lay down tracks for her side project. Amy plays lead guitar, keyboards, and bass, while Claire adds in tracks from a drum machine. Within a month, Amy has two albums completed, one acoustic, the other electric.

Shayna Banks is born.

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