Ben Shaw is a Rhode Island based Americana/Folk singer and songwriter whose unique voice stretches over a wide range of music. His authentic, sincere performances feature heartfelt stories, infectious melodies, intricate lyrics, witty banter, and well-crafted songs that explore myriad faces of hope and heartache.
He has been a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition as well as received multiple nominations in Motif Magazine’s Music Awards for Best Singer/Songwriter, Best Americana Vocalist, and Best Album.
He has performed across the Northeast in clubs, coffee shops, bars, and art galleries as both a soloist and with a full backing band. In December 2022 he released his latest project, “Madeline”, a full length album and accompanying novella which is available for streaming and purchase on all platforms.
Ben Shaw loves to make music. The Rhode Island based musician is not only an Americana/Folk singer and songwriter, he is also a jazz saxophonist and 21st century classical composer. Through his deep appreciation for a range of influences and mediums, his prolific output includes recordings and works in various disciplines, collaborations with several locally and internationally renowned musicians, and a consistent schedule of performances across the Northeast with several ensembles. When asked why he works across such a diverse range, Shaw said he feels compelled to because “after spending so much time in the early years of my practice doubting and maligning everything I wrote or played, I’ve worked hard to get rid of the high expectations I put on myself. Now, without that burden, I feel free to try anything that comes to mind and to engage in my own creativity, all for the simple joy of making something new.”
Shaw grew up in Portsmouth, RI, a small island town that wasn’t home to much else besides suburban neighborhoods sprawling across former potato fields. With no flourishing arts scene and no musicians in his family, the arts were far from his mind as a child. However, when he began to dig into his parents’ CD collection, the radio, and any other recorded music he could get hands on, his fascination with music began to blossom. He would listen with eager ears, drawn to the melodies and lyrical phrases of singer/songwriters, the sprawling orchestration of pop production, and the rhythms of jazz. During the late weeks of summer he would sit on his parents’ porch and hear the sounds of the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals dancing up the Narragansett Bay, listening to the joyful noise and dreaming about how to be part of the world it came from.
In middle school Shaw began to pursue music through learning clarinet, moving on to saxophone soon after. He played in every available school ensemble and started several bands of his own with which he would compose and perform. After high school he went to the University of Rhode Island to study jazz and classical composition, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Composition in 2011. Upon leaving he began to work full-time as a landscaper in Newport to help supplement his income so he could focus on honing his original voice and has ceaselessly continued to pursue a life in music.
Aside from music he is a contributing writer to Motif Magazine, where he covers Rhode Island’s evolving jazz scene. He is also an active poet and writer of short-stories, among many other pursuits.
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