Father and daughter Mat and Savanna Shaw began singing duets together from their kitchen table at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. After they posted their first song on social media, the pair were shocked by the response they received.
Ten months later, they have recorded two albums and gained international attention, making two appearances on the “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” receiving a write-up in The New York Times, and performing at their first arena concert. Today, Mat and Savanna join the show to share about their journey of success and how it has impacted their relationship as father and daughter.
We also cover these stories:
- America surpasses 18 million coronavirus cases.
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar receives the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., rails against the latest $2.3 trillion congressional spending bill.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
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Virginia Allen: I am so thrilled to be joined by recording artists and father and daughter duet Mat and Savanna Shaw. Guys, welcome to the show.
Mat Shaw: Thank you so much.
Savanna Shaw: Thank you.
Mat Shaw: It’s great to be here. And it’s fun to hear you call us recording artists.
Savanna Shaw: We’ve never been called that before.
Allen: Well, you record music.
Mat Shaw: That’s just funny. We’re still new to this, Virginia, so it’s kind of fun to hear that.
Allen: Well, let’s go all the way back to this spring. We spoke in March and I wrote a brief Daily Signal story about you all. As COVID was setting in, you decided to start recording music together. You both have amazing voices and you sat down at your dining room table and you started making music.
So take us back to the spring. Why did you guys decide, “OK, we’re going to start recording. We’re going to start putting songs on YouTube”?
Savanna Shaw: Well, it wasn’t really a choice at first. It kind of just happened. I wanted to record a video and post it for some friends I wanted to keep in touch with, and I didn’t want to do it by myself. I was too scared. So I had my dad come in and sing it with me.
Mat Shaw: Well, she did not have social media at all. So this was her starting an Instagram account to share music with her friends. So this was her first experience on social media. And your very first post was—
Savanna Shaw: “The Prayer.” Yeah.
Mat Shaw: “The Prayer” that we sang together.
Savanna Shaw: And after that started getting views, we just decided that we liked it and we like singing together and doing videos. So we just kept on posting. We’ve been doing it ever since. It’s been really awesome.
Allen: Well, it’s working out pretty well for you all. That very first video that you posted, “The Prayer,” I think it now has over 8 million views on YouTube. I mean, it’s just been incredible to see how you all have gone from zero to 60 in just a few months.
Was there a certain moment when you began to think, “OK, wait a second. I think maybe we should take our music from just our dining room and using our closet as a recording studio,” to, “I think there might be more here and we should maybe pursue this in a bigger way”?
Mat Shaw: Yeah. I mean, it’s coming [in] stages for us, I think, because I remember … I sent Savanna a screenshot of my phone when we were at 3,000 views and my mind was blown. People were sharing the video and they were enjoying it. Now … it’s got quite a lot more views than that.
But the reason I think we wanted to take that a little further into an album, two albums now, we just got so much positive feedback from people who, during a very difficult time, they seem to listen to the music and their heavy hearts were lifted.
And the feedback we got was really remarkable. It made a big difference in a lot of people’s lives. And maybe it was just because it’s a father and a daughter and it reminds us about our relationships and those we love the most during a time where maybe we’re not able to be with them. I think it struck a chord.
But we just thought it felt like a heavy responsibility, kind of, to use our music in a positive way, to really help a world that was struggling at the time.
So that’s why we wanted to do that, is share hope, spread joy through our music from a simple dad and a daughter. And that’s where it kind of led to, is making those albums, if that makes sense.
Allen: Yeah. Oh, that’s so beautiful. And it’s so powerful, just like you say, that picture of family doing something together in this season. And so many of us have had the blessing of just being reminded in this season when we are at home of the value of family and the importance of kind of getting back to what really matters.
But Mat, you referenced that you have two albums out right now. You started with one single, “Summer Out There,” then you released another single. You came out with your first album, “Picture This,” over the fall, and now you’ve just released a Christmas album.
So I want to take a minute to let our audience hear just a clip of your beautiful song, your rendition of the song “Hallelujah.” So let’s take a moment to listen to that song off of your album “Picture This.”
Allen: I could just listen to that all day long. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I spent a lot of the weekend listening to your music, specifically your Christmas album. It’s a great time for the Christmas album. So tell me about the response that you received from [your] first album, “Picture This.” You all got pretty high on some charts, didn’t you?
Savanna Shaw: Yeah.
Mat Shaw: Yeah, we did.
Savanna Shaw: That was pretty crazy to just see our names on a chart. We still can’t really process what that means. It’s just so crazy. But yeah, we were—what were we, dad?
Mat Shaw: Well, we were hoping to get onto the classical and classical crossover chart for iTunes because you get a little bit more visibility there. And so when we checked that first day, you’ll remember we were No. 1 on the iTunes classical crossover chart, which we couldn’t believe. And then we had a friend text us later that they were like, “Oh, it looks like you’re No. 10 or something on the crossover chart.”
Savanna Shaw: “Congrats … “
Mat Shaw: “Congrats.” … So I looked it up and we weren’t even on the chart anymore at all. And so I was like, “Oh, well, we had a fun ride. That was cool while it lasted.”
But the reason is because somehow iTunes switched us to the pop charts. And I looked at the pop chart. We were No. 1 on the pop chart. And that one really blew my mind. Because we’re just a simple dad and daughter from who-knows-where, Utah.
Savanna Shaw: It was crazy to be up there with like Ariana Grande—she just came out with a new single or something—and tons of other really amazing artists.
Mat Shaw: We made it on the Billboards. We were their No. 1 emerging artists on the Billboard chart. We didn’t know what to expect. And so to see all that and the positive feedback is just incredible.
We were selling physical CDs and we weren’t even sure people had CD players anymore, but we’ve sold tens of thousands of physical CDs. And so the response has just been remarkable and it’s encouraging to see that we can make uplifting, inspiring music and have people actually enjoy it.
Savanna Shaw: It’s really fun because we package all the CDs at our house. So we physically get to see every CD that goes out and people’s names and all the different places they live.
Mat Shaw: Where they go.
Savanna Shaw: And yeah, it’s really fun to just connect with people that way.
Allen: That is so fun. Yeah. I remember seeing on your Instagram, your living room just covered in boxes and packages. It’s like a whole family affair to get all those CDs out, which I love.
Mat Shaw: It was. It was. So we decided to ship it ourselves. And originally my wife, she’s like, “It’d be cool if we could hand write their names and addresses on the shipping labels,” because we honestly did not expect to sell very many. And then when they came in and they were thousands—I mean, we sold out.
We ordered 10,000 CDs thinking that would take us a year to get through, but we sold out on release day. And we were in big trouble because we had to ship all of those from our living room. But the whole family pitched in. …
Savanna Shaw: Yeah, my brother, Easton, pulled an all night or one night just packaging CDs.
Mat Shaw: He was a rock star.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah.
Mat Shaw: He was so amazing. But we got them out and yeah, we learned some lessons for the Christmas CD.
Allen: Yeah. Yeah. Order more.
So what has this experience been like from your family? I mean, to go from just living your lives, kind of normally, to all of a sudden you’re in the limelight?
You all have done two different interviews on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” You’ve done tons of other interviews on various outlets. How has it affected your family to all of a sudden be getting all of this attention?
Savanna Shaw: Well, my family is all really supportive. If we’re going to do music, we decided that it had to be a family commitment. So we always talk with our family, our whole family, even down to my 6-year-old sister, just to see how they feel about things.
So [we] definitely … all work together to do this music. It’s not just us. They’re even there at the recording studio and everything. So I feel like it’s actually brought our family closer because we have a way to kind of serve together, which has been a really cool experience for all of us.
Mat Shaw: Yeah. I mean, there are some hard times because we are busy. And so as a father, I don’t have as much free time as I did before in just kind of hanging out and playing with the kids. But we try to make, like she said, the things that we’re doing meaningful, and we try to make it a together family affair so everyone can feel involved.
The kids have earned some spending money. We pay them for packaging envelopes and stuff. So they’ve had some fun with that. But yeah, I mean, it is still kind of funny. We get recognized as we go out …
Savanna Shaw: Our family will be like grocery shopping or something and people will want pictures and it’s really funny.
Mat Shaw: But we love it. I think that’s so cool. And people are so kind. And honestly, they have been so kind to our entire family. Yeah, we feel very humbled and grateful to be in this position. Yeah.
Allen: Yeah. Yeah. It’s so healthy, I think, the approach that you all have taken to this. And you all did make the decisive decision that you were going to approach recording music in a really unique way and essentially make the fans your recording label.
Can you talk a little bit about that decision and why you decided to make the fans your recording label and really to be crowdfunded?
Mat Shaw: Yeah. So when we started this, we talked to some other artists and friends of ours and we got some really good advice. So when you sign with a label, they kind of control the music. And for a lot of people, it’s a great way to go. But for us, we wanted to be so careful about the message and the image and the branding.
My daughter was 15 at the time and I just wanted to make sure that we could do the things that we wanted to do and that we found was important.
We have friends who would try to go sing for a charity and their label would say, “No, we can’t do that.” We just never wanted to have to be in that position.
And so we have, we call it our Shaw Fam. It’s theshawfam.com. Our fans can go on there and they can support us and have a say in our music. And it’s been so fun. So our fans have helped us decide cover art, which songs we do.
Savanna Shaw: Which videos. We’ll record two different …
Mat Shaw: —versions or something.
Savanna Shaw: And they get to decide. And it’s really helpful to get their opinions.
Mat Shaw: Yeah. Because that’s who the music is for, but it’s like this really cool focus group that we get of our super fans and the feedback is so cool.
Savanna Shaw: And we’re friends with a lot of them. They’re from all around the world, but we are able to message each other and we do these Q&As every month where we get to talk to each other. So we’ve actually become pretty close with a lot of them, which has been super cool and really fun.
Mat Shaw: And we love it. Yeah.
Allen: Yeah. That’s so unique. I absolutely love that. I love the approach you all have taken.
Mat, I want to ask you, as a dad, how are you sort of navigating like, “OK, how do we kind of balance that? OK, we’re growing and we’re pursuing this awesome thing,” but at the same time, you want to have those boundaries and keep family first and foremost? So how have you been navigating that as a father?
Mat Shaw: It is a work in progress. I haven’t figured it out yet if I’m being totally honest. There was a lot that … we didn’t know when we started. And so as we’re learning this music world and what it requires, we adjust and learn as we go. And so balance is really important to us.
We haven’t figured it out quite yet. I still have my day job. I run a real estate company. And so there are a lot of things going on. But yeah, it’s something that we’re trying to be very intentional about, but we haven’t mastered yet. We’re still working on it.
Allen: That’s a very healthy and honest response. Yeah. Certainly a journey and just very uncharted territory that you all have entered into quickly. But from my perspective, you’re doing an amazing job and it’s really precious just to watch the two of you, as a father and daughter, just making this beautiful music together.
And you recently had the opportunity to share your music on a big stage in front of a live, socially-distanced audience and also in front of many people who were tuning in online. Can you tell me a little bit about how that whole concert experience came to be?
Savanna Shaw: Well, we had two concerts. We had a virtual one that was our own, and then we had one with a couple of other artists at an arena. Both of those were really different, but also really amazing experiences because I feel like it really helped us grow as people and as performers.
Just to perform in front of people and to feed off of that response live is a completely different experience. And it was so fun. It’s so different than sitting at your kitchen table with a camera in front of you because you’re actually singing for real people live. So, yeah.
Mat Shaw: I mean, our first concert, concert was virtual, but it was cool. We had a screen in front of us so we could see comments live during our concert and we can kind of interact with the fans that way.
But that was so fun to do a whole hour-plus-long concert of just our music with just us and the other musicians on stage. It was terrifying, but so exciting and so fun to do. And it was a total high at the end of that concert.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah.
Mat Shaw: I couldn’t sleep.
Savanna Shaw: We did it. We made it.
Mat Shaw: But then the arena concert was … something else. That was amazing. That was the first time we tried these things that they call in-ears. If you’ve seen artists on stage and they have the big things in their ears, it was the first time we tried it. So there [were] a lot of firsts for that arena show.
The in-ears were a different experience. You couldn’t hear the audience as well with those in, but it’s still cool because you could see their faces and you can feel their energy and I love that.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah. I really enjoyed that.
Mat Shaw: But we were on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” backstage like 20 minutes before we walked on stage.
Allen: So wild. Big day.
Mat Shaw: It was crazy. Yeah. And Nelly was there, the rapper.
Mat Shaw: So we were getting some last-minute advice from them before we went onstage.
Savanna Shaw: It was really fun.
Mat Shaw: I mean, sometimes we just look at each other, we’re like, “Who even are we?”
Savanna Shaw: Honestly.
Mat Shaw: It’s so crazy.
Allen: And Savanna, for that concert, you were the only female on stage, correct?
Savanna Shaw: Yeah. Yeah. I was the only girl on stage, which was so intimidating, if I’m being honest, because I knew that my voice would …
Mat Shaw: —carry.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah, it would carry because it’s high. Yeah. So that was definitely really scary.
Mat Shaw: But you killed it. She did so amazing. You wouldn’t know it from watching the concert. Savanna just looked like she belonged.
Savanna Shaw: Thank you.
Mat Shaw: Just with her confidence and it was so fun to see. She killed it.
Savanna Shaw: Thank you.
Allen: It takes a lot of courage to stand on a stage full of, yeah, all these male tenor voices and say, “OK, I’m going to do this.”
Mat Shaw: Yeah. Yeah.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah. They all just like have those really strong voices. I don’t know. I just felt so kind of small on stage with my voice and everything, but it was fun. It really was.
Mat Shaw: Yeah. You did an amazing job.
Allen: Yeah. So cool. Well, The New York Times just did an awesome write-up about you guys, which was included in their story “20 Albums That Put a New Spin on the Holidays.” And they wrote about your recent Christmas album.
They say, “Their rendition of ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ is poignant and elegantly spacious, almost nervy in its conviction. And ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ has an unlikely echo of Extreme’s ‘More Than Words.’ Throughout, Savanna sings with airy sweep and Mat booms like a drill sergeant. On ‘Thankful,’ father and daughter harmonize into billowy bliss.”
Wow. That’s quite the write-up from The New York Times. So let’s take a minute to listen to just a clip of your rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?” off of your latest album, “Merry Little Christmas.”
Allen: That song is so absolutely gorgeous. The New York Times, their comments were also, they discussed a little bit just about the innocence of your music, which I’m so glad that they brought that up because there is just this beautiful, really, class to the music that you all select and that you sing together.
So how do you all go about choosing the songs that you’re going to sing together?
Savanna Shaw: Well, our arranger and piano guy, Stephen, who is a wizard, I don’t know how he does what he does, but he helps us choose all of the songs.
So if he has an idea, he’ll kind of brainstorm with it and play with it and just see if it fits. And that’s how we did a lot of our songs for the past two albums. Some of them we choose.
Mat Shaw: We would get together usually and have the initial brainstorm session. And to us, it’s important that the song really resonates with us, it has a message that we want to convey.
And so some of them have a deeper meaning. Some of them are just for fun and just music that we love. And so we’ll kind of go through a bunch of those different ideas.
Our goal is to record more songs than we’ll put on the album and we can kind of pick. So originally our Christmas album was just going to be a little LP or whatever they call—EP, LP. I still don’t know what those mean. But a shorter album, like four songs. But we just loved the songs. …
Savanna Shaw: So we went back and did more.
Mat Shaw: We did all seven on the Christmas album. But yeah, it’s just kind of what resonates with us is kind of how we choose the songs.
Allen: Yeah. And it definitely seems to resonate with so many others, people all over America, all over the world. And I think part of that, of what people love about your music, is the connection that you all just naturally have as a father and daughter.
One of my favorite things watching your videos, I don’t know if this is intentional or if you all just naturally do this, but when you turn and smile at one another, it’s the sweetest thing. Like, “Oh.” It’s just so precious to see the two of you making music together.
So how has this process affected your relationship as father and daughter?
Mat Shaw: It’s been good for us. We definitely spend a whole lot more time together than we did before.
Savanna Shaw: I feel like we’ve learned a lot more about each other. And I feel like we’ve been able to gain a better friendship and relationship, I think. Yeah. We do have some disagreements sometimes because both of us have opinions on the music because we both care so much. …
Mat Shaw: But I’m usually right.
Virginia Allen: Of course. Yeah. Yeah.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah.
Mat Shaw: This is what I love though, … we’re headed into this industry where people, if you’re not careful, will try to mold you into the image that they want. And so I love that Savanna has a voice and opinion, and I love that we can butt heads on that sometimes, and she can argue her point and why she feels that way. And then I can tell her why I’m right. …
Savanna Shaw: I also feel like it’s gotten us closer because we both feel more comfortable sharing how we feel and our opinions. So I think it’s definitely been a good thing in the end.
Allen: Yeah. No, that’s so beautiful. It’s so good just to see that working process now, essentially, in a way, as colleagues. You’re having to figure out, “OK, we’re making this thing together. How do we make it something that we’re both really proud of and really excited to share with the fans?”
Mat Shaw: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s been fun. We’re business partners.
Allen: So what is next for you all? You’ve released two singles, you’ve released two albums. What’s next for 2021?
Savanna Shaw: We hope to release a couple more albums. We want to do one normal or two. We don’t really know yet. And then we would love to do more Christmas music. So we’re just kind of taking it as we go.
Mat Shaw: We’d love to do shows.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah. We want to do shows.
Mat Shaw: Hopefully 2021 looks a little different than 2020, because connecting with our fans in person would be really special for us to be able to go out and sing for fans where they are.
Savanna Shaw: We’d love to travel a little bit and meet some people from around the world. That would be really cool.
Mat Shaw: Yeah. But if that can’t happen or doesn’t happen, we just love … I think my favorite part of all this is just in the creating of the music. That is so fun.
Savanna Shaw: It is really magical.
Mat Shaw: Like when we get a song and we start working with it and we were working our parts and to go into the studio, which we had never been in a real studio before we started any of this, and the process is so fun. It’s a lot of work, but you get it back and you can hear the end result and it’s just magical. And I love the music creation process.
And so we’re just excited to make some more music next year. It’s kind of the way the world is right now is we’ll just take it as it comes. But we’d love to put out some more music albums and hopefully performances.
Allen: Yeah. Well, we’re excited to look out for those. And so our audience, I know they can find your music on YouTube, Spotify. They can order your albums. But tell us how can we follow you on social media? And then if we want to be a part of actually supporting your music, how can we do that?
Mat Shaw: Yeah. So, on social media, if you just look for Mat and Savanna.
Now, we’ve made it really difficult because my name is spelled with one T. And so I was never able to buy a souvenir as a kid with my name on it. And so I said, “Savanna, it’s only fair that we spell Savanna without an H at the end.” So it’s Mat and Savanna. Mat with one T, Savanna with no H, on all the social media platforms. Right? I think we’re on all of them.
Savanna Shaw: Yeah. I think so. There’s MatandSavannamusic.com. And you can go there to get all the music, order a CD, whatever you want. …
Mat Shaw: The Shaw Fam. TheShawFam.com. So you can go there and look into how you can support our music and actually take part in the process of making music with us. And that’s fun.
We do a lot of behind the scenes and live question and answer chats that we do monthly just to check in with everybody and let them know what’s happening and what’s coming up. And so it’s fun. Yeah. TheShawFam.com.
Allen: Awesome. Guys, thank you both so much. Just a joy having you on the show. And I’m so excited just to keep following you all, following your music and your work, and hopefully have you back on again soon with new updates. Thank you so much for your time today.
Mat Shaw: Oh, thank you. And we would love it anytime, you just let us know.
Allen: Thank you so much.
Mat Shaw: You bet.