For the last ten years the Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN) has been giving special recognition to Alaskan song writers by sponsoring the annual Song of the Year awards. This year two winners of the statewide competition are both from Kasilof. Shannon Darling was the awarded the best over all song of the year in the country category, and Kelsey Shield's entry was given the under 18 years of age song of the year award. Darling says she has been writing music since she was 13, but had never entered her work in a competition before, "I've been playing in Alaska for about 20 years with Vickie Tinker and Bonnie Nichols mostly and have led music in my church for some 13 years, but this actually was the first recording I've ever done. I was inspired to write the song a little over a year ago when my son left Alaska to head to Austin, Texas to turn the music world up side down with his band," said Darling. The lyric of the song is about a mother encouraging her son while her own heart is being pierced.
In winning the APRN Song of the Year award, Darling won some $5,000 in donated prizes and merchandise. Shannon is currently collaborating with Harlan Gamble on her first CD, which she hopes to release in the future. Darling's winning song can be heard by going to www.songoftheyear.org .
Skyview student, 17 year old Kelsey Shield's award winning song of the year is called "Until Then." Shields says she wrote the song about her boyfriend Jason, "I pretty much write a song when I'm feeling anything about anything and one day I was in a downer mood because I hadn't seen Jason in awhile so I wrote the song about how I was feeling. Then Shannon told me about the competition and this was one of my Mom's favorites so I recorded it on my computer and entered it," explained Shields. Kelsey also sings on her worship team at church and in the Skyview swing choir. "I didn't really think I had a chance to win, but Shannon had faith in me and thought it wasn't fair that I was entering the same time she was. It was very exciting when I got the call," laughed Kelsey. Shields plans on pursuing journalism as she continues her education, but says that music will always be a huge part of her life.
Both Song of the Year winners are not only from Kasilof, but also worked together on their recordings, "Kelsey sang back up on my recording, and at the concert when we performed our songs live, my daughter Katie sang with us and also sang back up on Kelsey's song, which made us doubly happy that we both won," said Darling.
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