WMN To Release “Lost” Shawn Camp Album

These days he’s a successful and respected Nashville singer/songwriter, but back in the early ‘90s, Shawn Camp was a promising, up-and-comer on the mainstream country scene. He had some early success with his self-titled 1993 debut, which garnered attention with singles “Fallin’ Never Felt So Good,” and “Confessin’ My Love,” so it was expected that his second album might be the breakthrough.

One problem: “The label said it didn’t sound like the latest hit,” Camp says. “They wanted me to change everything. Told me to take all the fiddles and dobros off and put electric guitars on. I got crossways and never did it.”

That would be the end of the story if current WMN President John Esposito hadn’t happened into an impromptu guitar pull with Camp at last year’s Leadership Music opening retreat. Reportedly, the label head was “mesmerized by Shawn’s singing and finger-picking.”

Esposito opened the label’s vaults, and took a listen to Camp’s unreleased sophomore effort.

“This stuff is magic,” Esposito says of first hearing the album. “There’s this sly, underlying sexiness to Shawn’s songwriting that I dig. I was trained to sign people who are magnificent and then to allow them show their magnificence. It shouldn’t be about trying to change what they do.”

On Sept. 28, Reprise Records will release Camp’s long lost album, now titled 1994. That same day, the label will also re-release his long out-of-print eponymous debut album.

“This is an unchanged snapshot of that moment 16 years ago,” Camp says. “At least it’s getting out there for the folks to hear. It’s kind of a shock, but I’m awfully thrilled.”

Camp’s impact on country music has been significant. While 1994 (produced by Emory Gordy, Jr.) remained shelved and Camp left Reprise Records, his songs were recorded by other artists including Garth Brooks (“Two Pina Coladas”), George Strait (“River of Love”), Josh Turner (“Would You Go With Me”) and Brooks & Dunn (“How Long Gone”). Today, Camp co-writes with Americana songwriting legends including Guy Clark (“Sis Draper,” “Magnolia Wind”) and Jim Lauderdale (“Forever Ain’t No Trouble Now”).

“Shawn sings, plays and writes up there in the fine, rarified air where very few can breathe,” says Clark. “It’s a joy to behold.” Echoes legendary producer and songwriter Cowboy Jack Clement: “I have always thought Shawn should be a star. He’s got the talent, the voice and the looks to do it.”

Independently, Camp released four critically-acclaimed CDs: 2001’s Lucky Silver Dollar, Live At The Station Inn in 2004, Fireball in 2006 and The Bluegrass Elvises with Billy Burnette in 2007. He is also a member of The World Famous Headliners, a band he formed with fellow songwriters Al Anderson and Pat McLaughlin.

Camp will be appearing with Clark tonight at 11:00 PM at the Station Inn. The show is part of this week’s Americana Music Festival. On Saturday (9/11) he’ll make a full-band appearance at the Mercy Lounge.

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