Song Shack accelerates vocal career for Canny and Schoenberger



Simon Schoenberger (11) poses in one of The Song Shack’s rehearsal spaces. Equipped with drums, guitar and other instruments, these rooms serve as havens for creative thinking and production.

Noah Canny (12) emerges from The Song Shack into the backyard area to showcase his talent. Inspired by artists like Harry Styles, Joji and FINNEAS, Canny embraces their influences both musically and fashionably. (THE SONG SHACK//USED WITH PERMISSION)

Cold. Small. Rickety. To many, a shack implies a place of discomfort, but to Noah Canny (12) and Simon Schoenberger (11), The Song Shack has served as an origin of personal growth, connection and professional opportunity. As a local hub for young musicians to receive songwriting and vocal guidance, The Song Shack, started by Missy Shackelford, has played a pivotal role in Canny and Schoenberger’s development as vocalists.

A familial environment is a staple of The Song Shack, and providing a microcosm for artists to thrive requires an atmosphere open to everybody.

“You have to be accepting of any person’s values and anything like that,” Canny said. “We’re a very tight community, and we want to be loving all around, and Missy is very serious about that.” 

While a primary value of The Song Shack is creative liberty, scheduling vocal lessons and times to use rehearsal spaces has proved a valuable time management tool for those that attend. For Schoenberger, the structure has enabled him to maintain focus in music even while attending school and handling other responsibilities.

“Having lessons every week and times to go carves out a time that forces me to work on the music and forces me to work on the song writing when normally I would put it off,” Schoenberger said. “Having a time where it forces me to be around music makes me want to work on it.” 

Compared to other formal vocal studios, The Song Shack aims to be personalized to encourage individual growth. Artists like Canny are given more liberty over the content of their vocal lessons, which he cites as a key attribute to his success at The Song Shack. Moreover, peer mentors contribute to development in songwriting and vocal ability, allowing all participants to gain perspective and insight from each other.

“It feels like there’s a lot more freedom, like if I was to have vocal lessons somewhere else it would be like, ‘Get here at a certain time’ and ‘We’re going to go over all of this,’ but [with] this, it’s like freedom,” Canny said. “She actually cares about you as a person, so if you’re feeling tired you won’t push as hard and it’s like doing what you want to do.”

Though Canny has only been involved with the Song Shack for about six months, he has already observed a swell in his performance and songwriting abilities. Canny has finished one song, with all original lyrics and melody. In the future, he hopes to continue expressing his emotions and experiences through music and pursue record deals after high school.

“Right now, I’m in a good place so all my songs are going to sound happy, and I have this really cool girlfriend, so they’re all gonna sound nice,” Canny said. “But, I did start a lot of songs in the past when I was in my sad place, so I wrote a lot about that. It’s all like what I’m feeling at the moment.”

While some good days seem to generate ideas for lyrics almost subconsciously, writer’s block remains a challenge for aspiring artists. Schoenberger explains that while the motivation is often there, a lack of creative energy or ideas can be an obstacle, even in an environment as stimulating as The Song Shack.

“There’s days where it’s like, ‘Man, I really want to write’ and you sit there and you’re like, ‘I can’t write,’” Schoenberger said. “Like I [want to] do it, but I don’t have the energy or creative capacity to make it happen.”

Despite some difficult days, The Song Shack remains a haven for Canny and Schoenberger as creative vocalists. Through vocal lessons, rehearsal spaces and a sense of community, The Song Shack has bloomed as a local resource for young people in Memphis seeking a place to enhance and polish their existing talents.

“I have gotten a lot more secure in writing songs … it helped a lot learning what the creative process is for that,” Schoenberger said. “It’s helped me get better at projecting and being more confident on stage, my performance. It’s always exciting [to go there].”