How Shawn Mendes Inspired Me To Pick Up The Guitar

I'm 27 and in a successful radio career and a 19-year-old pop star inspired me to play music.

July 24, 2018

Ron Elkman/USA TODAY NETWORK

So it's safe to say I've gone from "I like that Stitches song" to "HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEW SHAWN MENDES ALBUM?!" 

I have officially joined the Mendes Army. I have always liked his music and thought he would be a successful artist, but watching him talk so passionately about guitar and music has really inspired me. 

So, I did what anyone would do. I went out and bought a guitar, booked a vocal coach, and started learning guitar chords.

I am by no means aiming to be a super famous singer, (I wouldn't mind that) but I'd love to have the ability to write songs and sing at coffee shops here and there or even maybe one of our own events here at the radio station. I really just want to say I learned how to do something that I've wanted to do for years.

Truth be told, I was chasing a bit of a singing career right out of high school. Summer of 2008, I along with my friend Courtney and my brother Todd drove from Ocala to Orlando where we auditioned for American Idol at the old Amway Arena. 

We didn't make it past the first round, (although Courtney did get to sing 2 songs to everyone else's 1 so she was definitely in contention) but I honestly left there feeling defeated. I felt like I wasn't a good singer, that I wasn't able to make it and so I pushed music to the back burner. 

Or so it seemed. You see, despite all of that, I kept a radio career. I consume music and play music for an audience that wants it on a daily basis. I've been in radio for over 10 years, so clearly, music is a passion. 

I'm constantly interviewing artists and attending shows where I say, "I can do that."

So why haven't I done it? What am I waiting for?

Fast forward to 2018 and a Candian singer named Shawn Mendes releases his 3rd studio album. The lead single "In My Blood" become my anthem and then I hear the rest of the songs on this album and realize, "Holy crap! This guy is LEGIT." 

So I start studying him. I watch every interview he's done. I watch videos of him performing and solely focus on his guitar playing. I can do that! I can learn guitar, write my own music, and perform at the Billboard Music Awards. 

Sure Jan. Sure. 

I watched an interview where Shawn was asked when he knew he wanted to be a singer, and he said that at 11 he wanted to be an actor, and then at 13 he got his first guitar and started singing. He posted videos on YouTube and eventually Vine and then the rest just took off. 

Shortly after, he signed a record deal, put out his debut single, "Life Of The Party" and the rest was history.

This kid (ok, fine he's 19)... this MAN is living proof that if you want something bad enough, you'll dedicate yourself to it and not take no for an answer. 

So to bring things back full circle, I never really gave up on music. I just found a different outlet in which to enjoy music. Now though, I'm ready to get back on the horse as they say and see if at 27, I can do what I set out to do at 19. 

Practicing guitar every night is painful. My hand hurts. I get frustrated when my fingers slip and the chord sounds wonky, and I get tired by 9pm. But my new motto (I stole from the Orlando Pride's marketing campaign...) "NO EXCUSES." 

So no more excuses. I have a vocal coach. I practice my guitar every day and I'm writing and reading daily as well. 

Whether or not I become the next John Mayer or simply just another dude who can play guitar is set to be seen, but at the end of the day, I'm doing this for me.