Shelby Starner

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Shelby Starner
Shelby Starner.jpg
Background information
Birth nameShelby E. Starner
Born(1984-01-03)January 3, 1984
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 2003(2003-06-22) (aged 19)
Bartonsville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresPop
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, piano
Years active1997–2002
LabelsWarner Bros. Records

Shelby E. Starner (January 3, 1984 – June 23, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter and musician. She was born in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and resided in Bartonsville. Starner first gained recognition in 1997 when her demo recordings caught the attention of executives at Warner Bros. Records who subsequently offered her a record deal. Her official debut single, "Don't Let Them" (1999), received a positive reception upon its release. She released her debut studio album, From in the Shadows (1999), later that same year but it was not commercially successful.

In 2000, Starner worked with members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for her second album that was never released. Unhappy with Warner Bros. Records, Starner ended her contract and began searching for another company. During this time, she moved home to be with her family when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

On June 22, 2003, Starner died suddenly at her home due to complications from bulimia nervosa. Attempts to revive her at the Pocono Medical Center were unsuccessful.

Early life[edit]

Starner was born January 3, 1984[1] in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to Katherine Hass and Ray J. Starner. She had a stepmother, Susan LaRose and a stepfather, Allen Benn in addition to her little sister, Emily P. Benn and stepbrother Willie LaRose.[2] Starner resided in Bartonsville.[3] She began writing poetry and songs at the age of 11.[4]

Career[edit]

1996–1998: Career beginnings[edit]

When Starner turned 11 years old, her father bought her time in a recording studio. She was initially embarrassed but later enjoyed the experience.[5] At 12 years of age, she wrote her first song she deemed "acceptable" called "Straight A Student." In it, she sang about a popular 17-year-old friend who died when he was drunk driving.[4] In 1996, as a Christmas present, her father bought three hours of time at the studio[4] where she later recorded four demos of her original songs.[5] A lawyer and friend of family gave the demo to executives at Warner Bros. Records. In December 1997, 13-year-old Starner signed her first record deal.[5][4] It consisted of a six-album contract worth more than $5 million.[6] Her press representative was Liz Rosenberg, the then Senior Vice President of Publicity at Warner.[4] She enrolled in a home school program for her freshman year of high school.[7]

1999: From in the Shadows[edit]

Starner recorded a music video for her first single, "Don't Let Them."[4] She released her debut album From in the Shadows, in 1999, through Warner Bros. Records. It was met with positive acclaim but was not commercially successful.[3] It was produced by Craig Street and featured 13 songs.[8] Starner's song on the lack of trust and loyalty in a relationship entitled "You," was featured in commercials for Dawson's Creek.[4] Starner received coverage from Billboard, Newsweek, and USA Today and appeared on Entertainment Tonight.[4][9] Newsweek praised Starner as a "pop prodigy."[10] In February 1999, Billboard announced that Starner would go on a small concert tour through the US in mid-spring and that Monterey Peninsula Artists would be the booking agency.[9] In April 1999, Starner began a mini-concert tour through the Far East and Australia, after which, a full US tour was planned.[11] In Australia, she appeared on an episode of Hey Hey It's Saturday with host Larry Emdur.[12]

2000: Second album and hiatus[edit]

In 2000, Starner began work on her second album with members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She wanted to move into rock and roll but she did not release the album and chose instead to exit from her contract with Warner Bros. Starner's mother commented that "Warner Brothers wasn't creative enough to find a niche for her...She was a little mellow and thought of things a little too deeply compared to kids her age that listened to the radio." Starner and her family were initially intending on finding another company to start over until her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Starner did not want to leave her little sister and family after her mother's diagnosis. During this time, Starner was interested in Doctors without borders.[13] Starner planned on enrolling at the University of Pittsburgh in August 2003[3] to study Latin-American studies and writing. She aspired to write a published essay on bulimia.[13]

Starner worked at the Everybody's Cafe on Main Street in Stroubsburg during the months leading to her death.[3]

Artistry[edit]

Music critic Tom Moon praised her debut album From in the Shadows, stating that it contained "...powerfully revelatory songs, with lyrics that alternate between the scribbled journal entries of a tetchy teenager and the thoughtful, disarming observations of an adult."[8][14] A USA Today article stated "folky debut album 'From the Shadows' got good notices last year (1999), but made little commercial headway."[13] Starner's pop-folk voice has been compared to Jewel. According to Daily Mail journalist Adrian Thrills, her piano playing and angsty lyrics are similar to Tori Amos.[15] In January 1999, Jonathan Bernstein, a film critic of Spin, wrote that Shelby Starner and Britney Spears "make up the front line of the next assault of girl-teen prodigies."[16] Record producer, Jim Scott, stated that "Out of all the young artists I've worked with, she was the most spectacular: a great great artist."[17] Starner expressed that Janis Joplin was her role model.[16]

Health and death[edit]

Starner entered a treatment hospital for bulimia. Shelby continued treatment over the next two years.[18] According to her mother, Starner learned how to hide her symptoms by reading websites promoting bulimia and anorexia nervosa as "lifestyles."[19] Starner's body gave in to the detriments of her long bout with bulimia and due to electrolyte imbalances that caused brain swelling, stroke, and seizure, she died in her home on June 22, 2003. Attempts to revive her at the Pocono Medical Center were unsuccessful. She was 19 years old.[13][18]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Shelby E. Starner (1984-2003) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  2. ^ "Shelby E. Starner". The Morning Call. Allentown, Pennsylvania. June 24, 2003. p. 18. Archived from the original on May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c d Amerman, Kevin (June 29, 2003). "Psychological problem becomes physical when eating habits get out of hand". Pocono Record. Archived from the original on May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Frassinelli, Mike (April 10, 1999). "She's 15, She's A Hit, She's From The Poconos". The Morning Call. Archived from the original on May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c O'Brien, Lucy (March 1, 1999). "The real thing". the Guardian. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  6. ^ Birkbeck, Matt (2009). Deconstructing Sammy music, money, madness, and the mob. [New York]: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061982415. OCLC 937843081.
  7. ^ Stout, Alan K. (March 12, 1999). "15-year-old singer/composer Shelby Starner creates a buzz in music industry". Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. Archived from the original on May 6, 2018 – via HighBeam.
  8. ^ a b Moon, Tom (March 28, 1999). "Interesting structures support Starner's songs". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 86. Archived from the original on May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ a b Flick, Larry (February 13, 1999). WBs Starner Emerges. 111. Billboard. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ "New Faces of '99". Newsweek. January 25, 1999. Archived from the original on May 6, 2018 – via HighBeam.
  11. ^ Moon, Tom (March 28, 1999). "Age aside, an artist". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. F11. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Warneke, Ross (April 24, 1999). "Saturday TV". The Age. Australia. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ a b c d Amerman, Kevin (June 24, 2003). "Music prodigy loses life to eating disorder". Pocono Record. Archived from the original on May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  14. ^ "Shelby Starner". NPR.org. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  15. ^ Thrills, Adrian (April 9, 1999). "Now Girl Power Gets Serious". Daily Mail. London. Archived from the original on May 6, 2018 – via HighBeam.
  16. ^ a b Bernstein, Jonathan (January 1999). Little Darlings. 15. SPIN Media LLC. p. 38. ISSN 0886-3032.
  17. ^ Massey, Howard (2000). Behind the glass: top record producers tell how they craft the hits. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 90. ISBN 0879306149. OCLC 44573266.
  18. ^ a b Johnson, Margaret Wheeler (June 27, 2013). "Kathy Benn, Mother Who Lost Daughter To Bulimia, Petitions Google To Combat Thinspo". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on March 20, 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  19. ^ Prah, Pamela M. (February 2006). "Eating Disorders: Is societal pressure to be thin to blame?". CQ Researcher. CQ Press. 16 (6). ISSN 1942-5635. Archived from the original on May 5, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  20. ^ a b CMJ New Music Report. CMJ Network. April 12, 1999.