After year one of going viral, Mat and Savanna Shaw had one major goal: do more in-person performances.
The Shaws, who grew in popularity at the start of the pandemic for their rendition of “The Prayer,” released a long string of covers on social media over the past year. And while they’re continuing to do so in 2021, they’re also embracing opportunities to sing live for people as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift.
“That’s the magic with live music, is that it really has a way of touching the soul that not really much else can,” Mat Shaw told the Deseret News last month. It just pierces our souls and breaks down our walls and defenses. We really look forward to performing this next year.”
For the daddy-daughter duo, that effort begins with a big concert at the Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City.
On May 21, the Shaws will make their Eccles Theater debut with a special concert that celebrates their new album “Stand By Me” — the duo’s third album in less than a year.
“This is a total dream come true for me,” Savanna Shaw, 16, recently said in an announcement to fans. “As you guys know, I’m a huge Broadway fan, and when Broadway comes to Utah, they perform at the Eccles Theater, so I feel like it’s going to be very surreal for me to be standing on that stage singing because I’ve always admired that theater and all of the performers that go there.”
But the concert will extend far beyond Utah.
Fans in the Beehive State and elsewhere also have the option to watch the Shaws’ performance via a livestream. Tickets for the livestream can be purchased at matandsavannamusic.com while those interested in attending in-person can order from live-at-the-eccles.com (call 801-355-2787 for groups larger than two).
The Shaws recently broke down the tracklist for the upcoming album, which is available for pre-order and officially comes out May 21. Here’s the significance of the 13 songs on “Stand By Me,” which were arranged by the Shaws’ friend and collaborator Stephen Nelson.
‘Something Just Like This’
The Shaws open their third album with The Chainsmokers/Coldplay song “Something Just Like This,” which they admitted isn’t a song they ever expected to cover. But they said Nelson’s high-energy arrangement, featuring strings and background vocals, was persuasive.
- “It’s like a celebration of being enough and having enough,” Mat Shaw said during a video announcement. “So often our brains are inundated with these messages like, ‘You need to look different, you need to act different, you need to love different.’ This is just a celebration of being OK with where you’re at and who you are, and that being enough. … And it is a rocking celebration.”
‘Stand By Me’/’My Girl’
Savanna Shaw, who considers herself to be somewhat of an old-soul, said this mashup of 1960s classics was one of the songs she was most excited about releasing. Mat Shaw added that he couldn’t think of a “better father-daughter duet.”
‘You’ll Be In My Heart’
The Shaws have also tackled Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart,” which is featured in the Disney film “Tarzan.” For this rendition, they collaborated with Utah-based singer Madilyn Paige, who was a top-20 finalist on Season 6 of “The Voice.”
The Shaws released their cover of Hunter Hayes’ “Invisible” earlier this month, in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Mat Shaw said that all of the profits made from downloads of the song in April will go toward a charity to help raise autism awareness.
Savanna Shaw, who is a big Andrew Lloyd Webber fan, said she has loved “Pie Jesu” for years but was nervous to sing it for the album. The teenager said taking on the song helped her break even more out of her comfort zone and that it shows a different side of her voice.
The Shaws said John Denver has been the most requested artist from fans over the past year. Singing “Annie’s Song” was nostalgic for Mat Shaw, who grew up listening to Denver, one of his dad’s favorite artists.
“To me it’s a love song about love, and about how the emotion of love can truly fill up your senses completely,” Mat Shaw said. “It adds color to an otherwise gray world. It really does light you up.”
“For Good,” from the Broadway smash hit “Wicked,” is a meaningful song for Savanna Shaw since “Wicked” is the musical that ignited her passion for singing when she was 10 years old.
- “Just watching that musical, I feel like that’s when I kind of knew I wanted to be in the music industry,” the teenager said.
The Shaws recently released their rendition of “For Good” on their social media platforms.
Mat Shaw called the sacred hymn one of his “all-time favorite songs” — one that he’s been singing since he was a kid.
The Shaws released their cover of “Amazing Grace” last month, ahead of Easter. The arrangement features a gospel choir, singers Aitana Alapa and Mark Vaki — who are also based in Utah — and Nelson on piano.
“The song’s simple message is one of gratitude; gratitude for everything His amazing grace enables us to do and be and become,” the Shaws wrote on Facebook last month. “The song will invariably mean something different for everyone because we all have a unique and individual relationship with our Maker. What is beautiful about this song is the space it gives for all of us to contemplate on just how amazing His grace is in each of our lives.”
The Shaws said they initially weren’t planning on including Jack Johnson’s “Better Together” on the album, but Savanna Shaw said it soon became a “must-have” for her and that she fought for it be included.
“Homeward Bound,” a World War 1 era song, was Mat Shaw’s “must-have” for the new album. Mat Shaw said he used to sing “Homeward Bound” as a lullaby for his children.
“To me, when I sing ‘Homeward Bound,’ I envision a parent who sends their child off into the big scary world to gain some independence while still hoping that they come back to you someday, as their own independent person. It evolves into a new relationship, but you hope that they stay close.”
The Shaws’ rendition features cellist and recording artist Nicole Pinnell, who was a part of the recent concert film “Lamb of God.”
The new album features the Shaws’ second original song, called “Dear Fear.” Savanna Shaw described the song as being a letter to her anxiety and fear, and added that her mom, Brooke Shaw, even contributed to the songwriting process.
“The purpose of this song and the message that we really hope to portray is that you can be afraid and also be brave at the same time,” Brooke Shaw said during the video announcement. “Vulnerability is just part of progression in our lives, and Savanna really felt like she wanted to write a song about this because it’s been such a big part of her year. ... It’s learning that you don’t have to run from the things that scare you, it’s OK to allow them to exist inside of you while still just pressing on.”
‘You Will Be Found’
“You Will Be Found,” from the Broadway sensation “Dear Evan Hansen,” is another song request the Shaws have received a lot since going viral over a year ago.
“People have just been put through the wringer this past year, and there’s a lot of loneliness, anxiety, insecurity,” Mat Shaw said. “This song is just an anthem to say, ‘We’re here for you, if nothing else through our music. You’re not alone.’”
‘Keep Us Safe’
The final song on the album, “Keep Us Safe,” is a nod to “The Prayer” — the song that started it all for the Shaws. Country superstar Carrie Underwood helped write the song and performed it at “ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops” in 2014.
The Shaws said “Keep Us Safe” is likely a song not many people are familiar with as it can’t be found on most streaming platforms.
For the Shaws, the common thread across all of the songs on the album is a message of hope — which has been their main focus ever since performing “The Prayer” from their kitchen table more than a year ago.
“To affect people positively through our music — we wouldn’t have had this opportunity had we not gone viral a year ago,” Mat Shaw recently told the Deseret News. “I think it’s so fun that we have people who are interested in hearing us sing, because it allows us the opportunity to go into the studio and to create these new arrangements and to write our own music and share our feelings with the world.”