A friend in Ireland persuaded Shannon Kincaid to buy a copy of Riverdance in 1996, before it became a Broadway sensation. The friend promised that the show would “take the world by storm.” What Kincaid didn’t realize is how it would take her world by storm. Her 8-year-old son was mesmerized by the video, and Kincaid quickly found him a dance instructor. Today her 17-year-old son is the 12th-ranked Irish dancer in the world and acts as Kincaid’s muse in her vast repertoire of Irish dance paintings, which developed as he developed. But her work isn’t limited to visual art. She recently crossed over genres into the musical realm and garnered Grammy nods for her album, Fools.
Q. Where do you go to find your inspiration?
I have a special access into that world, like Edgar Degas did into the ballet. He was back in the dressing rooms, in the wings and in the music pit. We have a dance studio here at our house, and my son’s friends practice over here. I’m the mom who drives a lot, so I go everywhere they go to have that access.
Q. What medium do you use?
I use oils and pastels predominantly. I do a few sketches in watercolor because they move so fast that it’s virtually impossible to capture it. The watercolor makes it fluid.
Q. What motivated you to transition from visual art to performance art?
I’ve been a singer for a very long time. I sung in the Grand Ole Opry in the late ’80s, and my dubious distinction is that I was the opening act for Ricky Nelson when he was coming to Dallas to sing on New Year’s Eve 1985 and his plane crashed. So I called the only producer I knew in town — Phil York, a three-time Grammy winner — and started working on my own bona fide album. That October , he called me to say that all of the Grammy contenders had been posted, and I was one of them in three categories: best pop album, best pop song and best female vocalist. He told me, “You are next in line to Alicia Keys and just down from Norah Jones.” I was blown away.
Q. Would you compare your music to any popular artists?
It’s kind-of a soft rock, but a couple of the songs have country overtones. I think the people I’m most often compared to are Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac and Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics.
Q. Do your two artistic worlds collide at any point?
Yes. I named my record label “Painted Records,” and the front and back of my album have my artwork on them — one is a painting of me and one is a drawing of me. I definitely want to have them collide more as more opportunities present themselves.
Q. What’s next?
We’re on the cusp of trying to really get the record out there and get it rolling. You’d think somebody who had gotten the attention of the Grammys would garner a little interest. I don’t say that facetiously; I say that hopefully.
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